Man started family and spent COVID lockdown on remote island during six-year charity walk along UK coastline

A former paratrooper has completed a six-year walk along the UK coastline after spell of depression prompted him to “make a change”.

Chris Lewis’s 19,000-mile trek came to an end on Saturday at the same spot where it all started on Llangennith beach in Swansea on 1 August 2017.

His journey has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for the charity SSAFA, which provides practical and financial support to the armed forces.

Chris Lewis with his dog, Jet

Image: Chris Lewis with his dog, Jet, on Llangennith beach

Mr Lewis told Sky News he felt “proud” to have embarked on the walk, which saw him spend the COVID lockdown on an uninhabited Scottish island.

“I was ex-forces, ex-parachute regiment, and after this I became a single parent and somewhere along the line of that 10 years I started to slip into some depression, anxiety and essentially to sum it up I’d had a bit of a wobble,” he said.

“It was quite a serious one so I knew that I had to make a change and once my daughter flew the nest and she decided to go to Bournemouth to go to college, a couple of days later I stood at Rhossili and knew that I needed to make a big change and I needed to just get away to try and press the reset button.

“So I just had this epiphany that said ‘Chris, go and walk the UK coast’ and this really warm, excited feeling came into me, something I hadn’t felt for a long time and I’ve never looked back after that moment. Two days later I left.”

Chris Lewis was living on an uninhabited Scottish island during lockdown

Image: Chris spent lockdown living on an uninhabited Scottish island

His “amazing” followers and supporters – who are in their thousands – followed the journey right to its end which marks a personal milestone for him.

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“I think for me this finish is all about, and this is for anybody out there who’s struggling, if you’re having a bad time then the first part of it is just to go and make that change and just stick with it,” he said.

“So for me the finish line is all about having made a personal change, and it’s very rare that I will ever say this, but how proud I am for having done that myself and it’s worked.”

His life has undeniably changed a lot in six years, having met his beloved canine companion Jet and the “love of his life”, Kate, with whom he now shares a son, Magnus.

“One of the greatest things about an adventure and certainly one as unplanned as this is you just don’t know what’s around the corner,” he said.

“If I’d have walked this line on my own I’d have been happy, but to be walking it with the most amazing little adventure family and also my daughter Caitlin, how proud I am of her and how proud she is of us, I couldn’t have dreamed this up.”

Chris Lewis at Land's End during his hike around the UK coastline

Chris Lewis has written a book - Finding Hildasay

Image: Chris with his book, Finding Hildasay

But a 19,000-mile journey isn’t enough to satisfy Chris and Kate’s “itchy feet” and they already have their sights set on the next adventure.

“I’ve got a second book to write so we’re certainly going to do that over a couple of months, but I think in between those couple of months we’ll still do some micro-adventures but we have absolutely no intentions of settling down anywhere,” he said.

Which coastline is next on the agenda? “All of them,” he jokes.

“We’ve always talked about Norway, Iceland and some of the Scandinavian countries.

“There’s just so much…it’s all about the adventure and life experience for us and that’s how we want to bring our boy up. Very exciting times, this is just the beginning now.”

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