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The long-distance hiker is stranded all alone on a Scottish island



(CNN) – What if you are in the middle of an 8,700 mile hike for almost three years, have given up your home, run out of money – and then the coronavirus is stopping the world?

That was the dilemma that Christian Lewis faced when his efforts to cope with every twist on the British coast to raise money for charity suddenly derailed with the arrival of the pandemic.

Lewis from Swansea in South Wales started in summer 2017 with just $ 12 in his pocket. On the way, he took a companion – a dog named Jet – with him and arrived in the remote Scottish Shetland Islands in March when Britain was under restrictions.

He had no home and only a weak tent for protection in one of the northernmost and windswept parts of the country. He could have been in trouble.

Instead, thanks to the kindness of completely foreign people, he was in one of the best places in the world to survive the crisis ̵

1; a little house on a tiny island.

“It’s just great. I couldn’t be in a better place to lock,” says Lewis CNN of Hildasay Island. “There is nothing here but a few sheep and a number of birds.”

Hildasay, one of the Scalloway Islands, measures less than half a square mile and has been largely uninhabited since the late 19th century.

“I couldn’t be in a better place”

Pictures by Christian Lewis / Chris Walks in Great Britain

Christian Lewis and his companion Jet are currently stranded on the island of Hildasay off the coast of the Shetland Islands.

Courtesy of Christian Lewis / Chris Walks, Great Britain

Lewis receives water supplies from the local fisherman named Victor and food for food. He occasionally takes a boat trip to the Shetland mainland to get other supplies.

“It only takes about half an hour to get back to the mainland by small boat,” he says. “But this section of the sea is not the most beautiful, so we really have to choose our days to come back.”

Lewis started his journey in Llangennith Beach, Swansea on August 1, 2017, before heading up the west coast to Scotland. Then he made a quick trip to North Island to return a message in a bottle that had been thrown into the Irish Sea two decades ago and that he had found washed up on the Scottish coast.

There he decided to explore the coast of Northern Ireland before returning to Scotland, including the Shetland Archipelago, which is located 100 miles north of the mainland deep in the North Atlantic.

Lewis was nearing completion of the Shetland Islands with 300 islands and skerries, only 16 of which are inhabited, when he learned that he could not continue due to coronavirus restrictions.

While he managed to avoid running news about the pandemic on his travels, he had received various information from people he had met while walking.

Island life

Christian Lewis is stranded in Hildasay, off the Shetland coast

The couple received the keys to this house after the owners learned that they were camping on the uninhabited island.

Courtesy of Christian Lewis / Chris Walks, Great Britain

“I knew the lock would come,” he explains. “I had to make a real decision. I can’t go home because I don’t have a home to go to.

“So with the help of some Shetland colleagues who lent me a boat, I came to the island and started living on the land.

“I can go down now and I’ll have a whole plate full of shells if I want them, so I’m not worried there.”

Although he originally lived in a tent, Lewis later received the keys to an empty house after the news that he was camping on the remote island had been given to the owners who were happy to help.

“It has no electricity or gas,” he says. “It’s just very simple. But it’s not in the wind and it has a nice fire.

“We (he and Jet) will be here for the foreseeable future.”

Under the current restrictions, people in the UK are only allowed to leave their homes for important reasons, including: B. shopping for basic needs, doing one form of exercise a day, taking care of medical needs, or caring for or helping people in need of protection.

The UK government also advises staying “two feet away from people outside your home,” which Lewis doesn’t have to worry about when he’s a boat ride away from any human contact.

Forgiving the disappointment that his ambitious trek has been interrupted indefinitely, Lewis takes a laissez-fair stance on the matter and approaches the walk from the start.

He packed up and left Wales just a few days after deciding to take up the challenge after years of difficult times “since his return to civilian life” after leaving the British Army parachute regiment.

After becoming homeless, Lewis received help from the armed forces charity, Ssafa, but decided to take to the streets the second time he tried to lose his home and could not think of getting more help ask.

“I suffered a lot from anxiety and depression [in the past]”He explains.” I knew I really needed to change something, so it was really a split second decision. “

Just before he left, he launched a charity donation page and was just shy of a few thousand pounds to reach his goal of £ 100,000 at the time of writing.

“I had a lot of help from Ssafa, so doing something to help them was a breeze and we’ve been doing really well so far,” adds Lewis.

“I made the decision and was gone within a few days. I really didn’t think too much about it, and that’s probably why I did so well with my progress.”

“I started the trip alone, but I picked up Jet on the way [in Irvine, Scotland] and basically adopted her.

“She’s been with me for almost two years now. I don’t think there is a better dog out there.”

While Lewis mainly fishes and searches for food to survive, he is sometimes provided with food by well-wishers who read Chris Walks the UK on his Facebook page or his about the trip Twitter account.

Get stopped

Pictures by Christian Lewis / Chris Walks in Great Britain

Hildasay covers an area of ​​108 hectares and is 32 meters high at its highest point.

Courtesy of Christian Lewis / Chris Walks, Great Britain

“The more I went on the trip, the more people heard about it and they wanted to help us in different ways,” he says.

“People helped me and Jet eat and offered their services in every possible way.

“It’s really nice to see how friendly we are. I never expected it when I started – I thought I would live on insects for the next two years.”

Instead of insects, Lewis eats lots of stews, vegetables, and any shellfish or crab he can find.

“If I can, I’ll carry meat,” he adds. “People always ask me how heavy my backpack is. I have no idea, but it’s heavy.”

Although Lewis had roughly estimated that the challenge would take two years, it was a longer process than originally expected.

“It took me almost two years to do everything [Scottish] Islands because they work so sterile and hard, especially in winter, “he says.

“But Jet takes everything at her own expense. We have a rather unique relationship because we are never separate. She sleeps in my sleeping bag.”

But after running so long every day, Lewis is running out of steam, now he’s hiding on a desert island? Far from it.

“Although I don’t go for a walk on the coast or make progress, I don’t stop the trip,” he emphasizes.

“As soon as this [the coronavirus pandemic] is over and Britain has come out of the block. I will immediately return to where I stopped on the Shetland mainland coast and continue.

“It won’t be long before I’m back on the mainland and going to the east coast.”

Lewis remains active by facing new challenges as often as he can.

“I will still go,” he says. “Maybe I go around the island 15 times a day.”

He also completes a rocky-style exercise program that occasionally throws stones around to work on neglected body parts.

“Doing the same movement every day takes a toll,” he says. “I noticed that I was slowing down, so I did it [the training routine] this morning.”

Like many of us, Lewis found that he was forced to stay in custody for a while, which means that he was able to do some of the things he would normally never have done, z aside he was too busy walking.

And as he spends this blackout many miles from his hometown, Lewis is encouraged to see how people use their time in a time that is very difficult for much of the world.

Self insulation benefits

“I see a real change in things,” he says, of keeping up to date with developments in the UK through his social media feed.

“People make videos of them doing things with their families, they’re creative. I see more musicians out there.

“And I think the good side of it is that people actually get together. And that’s beautiful, isn’t it – it’s just lush.”

Of course, Lewis is well trained in self-isolation and confirms that disconnecting from the daily pressures of the modern world has completely changed his life.

“I think isolating yourself from such things can really help your sanity,” he adds.

“It certainly helped my life. It’s one thing to do it in the house, but I and Jet have been doing it for a long time.”

While his time in Scotland has proven to be exhausting, he enjoys it immensely and benefits greatly from the target’s access legislation, which makes it possible to camp almost anywhere.

“I put up my tent in some places that I have. Sometimes it really feels like there haven’t been many people in a very long time,” he says.

“There is something very spiritual about it. I learned a lot about myself when I was camping in the UK.

“It’s very epic, in many, many proportions.”

Although he admits that he misses his family, especially his daughter Caitlin, who left college when he started his trip, Lewis was never tempted to give up and go home.

“I get visits from my family from time to time and my daughter will visit me. That’s all I need,” he says.

At the moment Lewis has no choice but to stay in Hildasay and says he enjoys every minute of it, even though the winds are pretty brutal and it was dark around 3pm in the last winter weeks. Every day.

“I don’t know when I can continue the journey,” he admits. “I think it will take about a year and a half to finish, but who knows?

“So I’m going to sit on this island and learn more. And I’ll keep posting because I know it makes other people smile.”




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