Hello! I’m Chris Howard, or Chris the coast walker, 37-year-old dad of 3 daughters and British adventurer.
I have just walked 11,100 miles around the coast of Britain (including the 3 national summits) and completed a half marathon in Cambridge at the end for good measure. I set out at the end of the first lockdown from Heacham in Norfolk and headed south until I got back to Norfolk, I then walked the length of the river Ouse to my hometown of Cambridge where I clocked 11087 miles but the 87 annoyed me so I ran the Cambridge Half Marathon the following day to round it up to 11100.
I wanted to do something to raise money for children in the UK. I couldn’t help but think how lucky my own children were during lockdown and so wanted to help those less fortunate. It’s not something I’ve always wanted to do particularly but I like to push myself and have adventures to raise money for good causes. Interestingly I decided to do it then looked on the ‘BBC Children in Need’ website and it said “reaching children in every corner 0f the UK” which fit perfectly with the walk!
Me and the family
I started at what we thought was the end of the pandemic but then it continued, I walked through a very strange and unfamiliar time in our history. People were very disconnected but then they were also craving hope and good news stories, so I got lots of different reactions but mainly ones of kindness. I wanted to complete a marathon a day carrying everything I needed to survive which was about 25 kilos or the weight of one of my daughters. It got tough when rolling lockdowns and rising Covid numbers were still shaking things up. In Wales, I got locked down for 4 months or so and that change was hard having adapted to being on the road. It was a surreal experience with the world just stopping. There were days in Scotland when I was completely isolated and alone in dangerous storms without hope of rescue, one of which I got hyperthermia, fell off a cliff and ended up in a peat bog with a dead sheep. I met lots of amazing characters from all walks of life and it fascinated me seeing how people live so differently all over the UK. The hardest day was probably in Cape Wrath where I had a whiteout storm and nearly froze, I lost visibility and became disoriented with no phone signal or possibility of rescue I had to walk 18 miles over rough ground, wet through already I had to jump into a river and swim across to get to safety, I had trench foot and I was alone. But for the bad bits, there’s always good stuff and I always think; everything is temporary so it will get better.
I guess the one thing I couldn’t have been without is my water filter, I used it everywhere – from hot dry days on the Essex coast to the wilds of Scotland. It was a lifesaver literally. Without it I could easily have died of dehydration or waterborne disease… that and my BAM Baselayers obviously, they literally made every day better.
At the end and crossing the line in Cambridge, I felt massively overwhelmed in all honesty, it was bizarre. Like I’d become so used to being alone and isolated in the middle of nowhere that suddenly I saw hundreds of people all cheering and clapping with balloons and a band and big Pudsey bear teddies and my children and their school friends. I saw so many faces I knew but felt bad for not speaking to them all because I was just so surprised and sort of shocked by it all. Obviously, I was proud to have finally completed and achieved it, but it was a strange feeling of just being totally overwhelmed.
In terms of celebration, I didn’t do much as I’d decided to run the Cambridge Half Marathon the next day to round up the 11087 miles to 11100 miles! I had a few beers and a curry with family and friends at home then an early night in my own bed for the first time in what felt like forever. I struggled to sleep in the bed, and I still struggle now even after a month of being home…
I learnt that more often than not people are kind and curious first. That really was life-affirming for me. I learned that I’m still capable of surviving alone in difficult situations. Above all I learnt the importance of remaining humble and being able to understand that once you reach a level of fulfilment or achievement, you’re able to give…
I’ve been doing lots of interviews, podcasts, and radio alongside writing Blogs and articles for magazines. At the same time, I’m writing a book about the walk which hopefully will get some interest. I’m also now following up walking the coast of Britain by rowing the coast of Britain in this year’s GB row challenge race. I know, I’m mad… but hopefully people will continue to follow my adventures and keep supporting me. Especially as this is my chance to give back in a big way to the environment I’ve fallen in love with so much. The data we’ll be collecting for Portsmouth University’s marine conservation department is a world first and will hopefully inform how we as humans treat our seas and even approach our daily lives…
The best way to help and find out more is to visit my website Thecoastwalker.com where you can get in touch, read latest news, and even support my endeavours. Or you can also get me on most social channels except TikTok – I don’t know what that is!