Hiker Chris Howard, who is aiming to circuit the very edge of Britain’s coast, has vowed to return once Covid-19 pandemic restrictions allow.
"The Coast Walker (opens in new tab)" is 4000 miles into an estimated 11-000-mile hike after setting off on July 26 from Heacham beach in King’s Lynn.
He reached Aberystwyth in Wales just before Christmas when Covid-19 restrictions meant he had to return home to Cambridge.
Now the 35-year-old dad and builder, who is doing the hike to raise money for BBC Children In Need (opens in new tab) (you can donate at his JustGiving page (opens in new tab)), is patiently waiting to be able to set off again.
He plans to rejoin the walk in Wales and then progress to Scotland. He is also keen to have people walk with him on the long journey.
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Hiking for charity – and self discovery
Chris said he is hiking to raise money for a very worthy cause. He added: "When I do anything it also has to have a meaningful connection of self-discovery, so I’m really learning about who I am.”
The journey so far had taken Chris 150 days. He hiked from from Norfolk, south along the east coast to north Kent, then along the south coast to Land’s End. From there, he hiked up the north side of Cornwall and made it to Aberystwyth in north-west Wales.
He stays as close to the sea as he can, often walking on beaches and timing his walk each day with the tide to allow him to be on the sand and in the surf itself. Otherwise, he walks on a cliff path closest to the edge of the coast.
He estimates the full distance will be 11,000 miles although it will depend on tide times, weather variations and diversions inland due to erosion.
He had hoped the trip would take him around a year. He said: “That’s has now changed due to the Covid situation but I hope I can go as quickly as I can and not delay the end date too much.
“I’ll be leaving again as soon as the restrictions are lifted. The annoying thing is I’m actually more isolated out there and pretty much self-sufficient than when in lockdown at home.”
Chris owns a building company and during the first lockdown he realised he was able to leave his employees to continue working.
He said: “During lockdown, I stepped away from the business a bit to help with home-schooling my children. My wife also works for the company and along with the help of everyone else in the office and on site, she’s running the company while I walk the coast.
“I dial in when needed but basically they’re all supporting me and working very hard. It’s a risk I’ve taken, but I have full trust and confidence in the whole team.”
Chris admits he misses his kids while he completes his coast walk. He said: “We have seven-year-old twins and a four-year-old, all girls, and I miss them immensely but they’re my strength. Every step I take, I know I’m getting closer to seeing them again.
“Also, I want to inspire them and others to always push their limits and help others.”
Hiking for charity
Chris has raised more than £20,000 for Childen in Need already and has a new goal of £40,000. He said: “The pandemic situation is hard for so many but it’s very hard for children, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds or abusive homes in the UK.
“Those children need a voice and someone that won’t forget about them at a time like this. Children In Need is exactly that in my opinion and they do so much for so many in every corner of the UK.”
Follow him on social media @ChrisTheCoastWalker (opens in new tab).
Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, who is better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favourite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing, both downhill and back country. Her target for 2021 is to finish the final nine summits in her first round of all 282 Munros, the Scottish mountains of more than 3,000ft high. Aside from being outdoors, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy the great outdoors, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors (opens in new tab).
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