I caught up with Around Britain walker Christian Nock as he hiked the west coast of Scotland
Christian Nock has been walking around Britainâ€™s coast for close on 550 days. He embarked on his epic 6,500-mile hike from Blackpool on August 8, 2012, and he has been walking non-stop since.
I caught up with him just before New Year at Tarbet, on the west coast of Scotland, and again this week as he walked through the seaside town of Helensburgh in Argyll & Bute.
Following Christianâ€™s anti-clockwise around Britain walk has become something of an addiction for his 5,000 friends on Facebook. Additionally, he is followed on Facebook by 27,500 people. Regular updates by the walker himself (often dozens of times each day) show how he is faring and who he has met along the way.
His amazing on-line diary also reveals the great many views of ever-changing scenery and places that he has visited.
Christian, 39, is walking what he believes to be the “most accurate and extreme coast of Britain”.Â He keeps as close to the shoreline as much as possible and where there are islands that can be reached by a bridge, he also completes a circuit of these.
The former serviceman has taken only one ferry during the entire on-foot trip and every night he sleeps rough.
His journey is the equivalent of walking from John Oâ€™ Groats to Lands End seven and a half times.
Why walk the coast of Britain?
Christian started his mammoth walk at a low point in his life. He said: “Iâ€™d lost my business and didnâ€™t feel like I had anything. I felt depressed and suicidal at times.
“Then I watched a TV programme of a Forces member who had lost both his legs in a parachute accident. There he was, getting on with his life again. He was being supported by the charity, Help for Heroes.
“I also watched the programme Coast during the same period. It was all these things that came together in my mind and I knew what my next step would be: To walk Around Britain and raise money for Help for Heroes.”
Christian reckons that the first day of the walk was the hardest but as the days and miles have gone by he has settled into a daily routine that he says is “on the whole extremely satisfying and uplifting”.
During the walk he hoped to raise Â£10,000. The Help for Heroes total now stands at almost Â£123,000.
From the outset, Christian has slept rough outdoors, or in strangersâ€™ sheds and garages. He carries what food he can (“usually porridge and pasta”) in his 30kg rucksack as he walks.
He has suffered seven colds, one bout of flu and now has a permanently sore ankle (an old injury”), right hip and lower back (“because of all the walking”).
On average, Christian has walked around 12 to 13 miles each day. His longest day has been 31 miles. His shortest has been just a few miles (when hampered by weather or illness). He has worn out 13 pairs of boots so far.
The epic walker is raising funds for Help for Heroes. He is also raising awareness for the many people who are homeless in the UK. According to the Christian, a third of the UKâ€™s homeless people are former members of the Forces.
The tough west coast of Scotland
Before Christmas, Christianâ€™s walk saw him on the arduous in-and-out-in-and-out Scottish coastline. The energetic, but weary sounding, hiker, said: “There have been highs and lows during the entire walk and I have sometimes wondered if this walk would kill me but I am still walking.
“I have loved many parts of the coastline and cursed some sections, too, because of awful weather or treacherous paths, but on the whole the walk is proving to be amazing.
“It is the scenery and the people that make it so special. There are places I never knew existed and I have seen so many unexpected sights. I have met many, many people who have shown me nothing but kindness. This trip has rekindled my faith in human kindness.”
However, the many peninsulas and headlands of the Scottish west coast were set to test Christian.
He says: “It was soul destroying on many days when I was walking the many peninsulas and sea lochs. I would literally see my route ahead of me, but across several kilometres of a sea loch.
“I just had to keep walking in a zig-zag fashion and it was hard going both physically and mentally.”
This week he sounded in far higher spirits. He says: “Crossing the Erskine Bridge has really helped mentally. I have also been able to reduce my rucksack by 10kgs because I am in more populated areas and so I do not need so many provisions.
“The rest of the walk feels, to me, like it’s simply southwards now and I can see the end in sight.
“I always knew that when I got to this point Iâ€™d feel so much better. It feels like a straightforward walk back home.”
Christian has set a finish date of “before March 11”. This is the date of his 40th birthday and he says: “I have promised myself I will wake up in my own bed on my 40th birthday.”