Our Lives: The Long Walk Home

The remarkable story of one man and his walk round the coast of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, including all the offshore islands, a journey, he reckons, of almost 20,000 miles.

Four years ago, Christian Lewis started walking. He set off from Llangennith beach, close to his home in Swansea back in August 2017, with just £10 in his pocket. As an ex-paratrooper, he was well-equipped to take on this challenge, and his main purpose of doing the walk was to raise money for SSAFA, an armed forces charity, that had helped him through some turbulent times. It has turned into a journey of adventure and self-discovery.

As he travelled around the coastline of Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Christian took to social media to share his experiences and gained over 80,000 followers, all of whom feel a part of his journey. Many have kindly contributed food, water, accommodation and equipment to help him on each leg of the journey.

He felt he was unstoppable, but in March 2020, 12,000 miles from his home in Wales, Covid-19 hit, and the world came to a standstill. Chris found himself on the uninhabited island of Hildasay in Shetland, unable to move on because of lockdown. This was isolation on another level, with only his adopted dog Jet for company. Chris’s military skills certainly helped him survive in the wild, as he had to forage and hunt for his food, and his posts proved inspirational for a population struggling with the lockdown.

Chris’s journey became much more than a feat of physical endurance and surviving the elements – it helped him find inner peace and love. After Chris left the army and his daughter left for college, he suffered from depression. Through the kindness of strangers and by meeting people from all walks of life, Chris became happier and more content with himself. Then at the end of 2020, the most unexpected thing happened. After being a single man for ten years, he met Kate. They instantly hit it off, their relationship developed into love, and she has now joined Chris and Jet on their walk.

The second lockdown meant that Chis and Kate spent the coldest months of the year holed up in a homemade wooden shelter in a wood south of Aberdeen. But as spring comes and lockdown restrictions lift, they head down the spectacular east coast of Scotland and on to the streets of the capital city.

Although this walk has taken longer than anticipated, as he comes to the final year of his journey and he makes his long walk back home to Wales, so much has changed for Chris. He has met thousands of people who have inspired him, adopted a dog, found love, and most of all he is happy and determined to complete his extraordinary journey.