Occasionally we come across stories of people who inspire and leave you wanting to know more and to follow their journey.
Last week I discovered a guy on a mission to walk the coast of the UK and raise funds for RNLI, who after a suggestion from a fan has now decided to extend his walk to include the coastline of the island of Ireland. Alex Ellis-Roswell arrives in Belfast to begin his extended journey next week.
What inspired your initial UK coastal walk?
In short, an unhappiness with the way my life was at the time and the death of my Father over Christmas 2013. I had one of those moments in the year following where I knew I had to change everything about my environment and put something positive in to the world. Having such good memories of spending time on our little boat on the Medway River with Dad and the RNLI being a charity our family had always supported- I decided to start walking round the coast to raise money and awareness for RNLI Lifeboats – a charity that operates lifeboats around the entire coast of Britain and Ireland, saves hundreds of lives every year and receives no government funding.
When you arrive in Belfast are you going to stay a while and enjoy the city?
Absolutely- I’ve never visited Belfast or Northern Ireland and so I’m really looking forward to having the opportunity to explore some of this, I’m told, beautiful city- especially some of it’s rich maritime history. And of course I’m lucky enough to be revisiting Belfast in about a year’s time once I’ve completed the 2500 mile walk around the Northern Irish and Republic of Ireland’s coast before heading back to Stranraer on the ferry.
I always walk clockwise. It would feel wrong to travel in the direction French people drive around roundabouts!
Walking the coast of UK then Ireland is a big mental and physical challenge. How do you prepare for it?
Surprisingly to some, I did almost no planning. I found some people had walked around the coast of Britain before and some had walked around the coast of Ireland- so I knew it was possible. Apart from that, I had no experience of long distance walking. The first time I ever put up a tent was the night before I started. I thought Birmingham was on the coast. There have been a lot of lessons learnt along the way…
In terms of the mental challenge, I simply never appreciated how much of a challenge that aspect of walking for three years would be. When I get blisters, I can use blister plasters. When my knees ache, I have knee supports. When it rains, I have a raincoat. But it’s not so simple to deal with the mind.
I’ve got people on Twitter kindly offering me places to stay when I get to Essex in about 6000 miles walking time away, and I’ve got no idea where I’m staying in about two night’s time. It’s a sea of uncertainty and ups and downs where I can be waking up in my Vango tent on Monday morning and falling asleep in a double bed on Tuesday night. I’m always blown away by stranger’s kindness when I’m offered somewhere to stay in their home- I’ve been incredibly lucky.
What have been the highlights of your journey so far?
I’ve found every single day has its own highs and lows. Waking up usually, but not always, somewhere beautiful to a sunrise can be the best start to the day ever. Having the opportunity to enter temporarily into so many different people’s lives has been one of the aspects of this walk I’ve enjoyed the most. It’s not true what you hear on the news – people really are very nice indeed. Lows are usually weather related, a day of rain is a pain, but when I’m stuck in the rain for more than a couple of days, it grinds you down. Everything being wet– tent, socks and all.
It’s an awesome walk, have you had a lot of support from followers to keep you motivated?
I don’t think I could have got this far without the support from every single amazing person on Facebook and Twitter who is a part of this journey with me. They’re my support team and I owe so much to them.
When I set off from Kent on 3rd August 2014 on this walk, I set the target to £10,000. So far, no more than a third of the way through now we’ve raised over £7000 for RNLI Lifeboats- a huge amount that is already being used by the charity across Britain and Ireland to help save lives at sea.
How can we follow your journey?
And you can help support RNLI Lifeboats by donating here: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/longwalkround
If you can help out in any way that would be amazing, I’m sure he’s always on the lookout for a comfy bed along the coast, somewhere to wash and refresh, clothes washed or new clothing. If you can help, why not get in touch!! Or else, you might just want to donate to the awesome RNLI.