Homeless paratrooper who set out on charity walk of the entire UK coastline with just £10 in his pocket reveals how he found happiness by befriending a stray dog
- Former British paratrooper Chris Lewis, 40, ‘struggled’ after leaving the military
- Found himself homeless after leaving 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment in 2004
- In August 2017 he set out to walk entire UK coastline for military charity SSAFA
- During trek of remote Scottish islands met stray Jet who he has since adopted
A paratrooper who was left homeless after leaving the military has revealed how he found happiness after adopting the stray dog he met while trekking remote Scottish islands.
Former British paratrooper Chris Lewis, 40, found himself ‘struggling’ with money after leaving the army in 2004, and was left living on the streets before seeking help from military charity SSAFA.
In August 2017, single dad Chris set off from Beach Hill car park in Swansea, with £10 in his pocket, to walk the entire coastline in the UK, in a bid to raise funds for the charity that helped rebuild his life.
Appearing on This Morning today, Chris told how his journey was transformed after stumbling across Stray dog Jet on the west coast of Scotland, with the pair sticking together ever since.
Former British paratrooper Chris Lewis, 40, set off from Beach Hill car park in Swansea to walk the entire coastline in the UK in 2017
Chris told how his journey was transformed after stumbling across Stray dog Jet on the west coast of Scotland nine months into his trek
‘Life after leaving the regiment, as with many soldiers who leave, yeah I struggled,’ said Chris. I found it really difficult. I wasn’t very good with money.
‘I decided to walk the coastline, for two reasons, one was personal. I wanted to get away from where I was at the time and I felt there was more I wanted to do. I had been helped out by a charity called SSAFA.’
Chris, who served with the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment, decided to embark on the fundraising mission with ‘a tenner and two days’ worth of rations’, and has relied on his military skills and the goodwill of the public to survive.
‘I adopted Jet on the west coast of Scotland’, said Chris. ‘It was just pure chance. I think I’d done about nine months on my own. I just happened to be on my own, in my mind I was in a good place.
Chris started his epic journey in Swansea in August 2017 and is currently in Scotland, working his way back down towards the east coast of England (pictured: his quest so far)
Chris found himself ‘struggling’ with money after leaving the army in 2004, and was left living on the streets before seeking help from military charity SSAFA
‘I was going up to the islands and what better company to have and Jet and I have a really unique relationship.
‘She sleeps in my sleeping bag, we know each other so well. I know when she’s had enough and isn’t enjoying this section of walking and I’ll stop and camp up, we know each other well like that. ‘
When the first lockdown hit in March 2020, two years into Chris’ journey, he ended up camping out on an uninhabited island in Shetland, where he had an ‘amazing’ time with his beloved pet.
Chris spent three months living in a former shepherd’s hut on Hildasay before continuing his expedition in June last year.
When the first lockdown hit in March 2020, two years into Chris’ journey, he ended up camping out on an uninhabited island in Shetland
The former paratrooper also met his long term partner Kate Barron (middle) while on the road, having now walked over 13,000km together
The former paratrooper also met his long term partner Kate Barron while on the road, having now walked over 13,000km together, and she says it was Jet that attracted her to her Chris.
She said: ‘When I met Chris, obviously he was in a tent, I didn’t know anything about him. But just to see a dog, I guess look at him in the way she did, I trusted him immediately. She’s so devoted to him the relationship is so incredibly special’.
When asked what the best thing about his trip has been, Chris said: ‘Without sounding cheesy, meeting Jet was the real first thing that happened and meeting Kate as well.
‘Finishing the islands was massive. It’s going to be about a month and a half before we reach the English border and nine months to a year before we get back to Swansea where we started.’