21-year-old fundraiser, Alex Ellis-Roswell, is walking around the coast of Great Britain to raise money for the RNLI. He’s five months into his two year challenge, which will see him cover 6,500 miles. We caught up with the inspirational walker when he passed through Exmouth….
The challenge you’ve set yourself is immense Alex, what inspired you to set off on this journey of a lifetime?
Walking the coast of Britain was just one of the things on my bucket list, one of the things I knew I wanted to do at some point in my life. My Dad, after some years of suffering, passed away at Christmas and I suddenly felt I needed to change my environment and life –
make sense of certain things I suppose. That’s when I sold my business, gave my months notice to leave my home and set off. It all happened quite quickly.
Why have you chosen the RNLI as your benefitting charity?
RNLI has always been a charity I’ve supported. The thousands of volunteers who risk their lives and give up so much of their own time to save others in what is Britain’s most unforgiving environment, our sea, inspire me more than anybody else. As I get to each new lifeboat station along the coast, hearing their stories motivates me to keep going. These men and women are modern day, real life heroes.
Two years is a long time – what have you given up to do this?
Baths, pizza, a bed, reliable internet connection, duvets, warmth…
How is your journey panning out so far – what’s the support been like, where are you staying and who is feeding you?
I was incredibly lucky for the first two months of this walk. Hurricane Bertha in August aside, the weather was warm and dry. Then it got cold. And wet. And windy. But the more inhospitable nature gets, I find the more hospitable people get. Support and kindness I’ve received so far has blown me away. From strangers inviting me into their homes for a warm nights sleep, to messages of support on Facebook and Twitter. Even just a smile can lift my spirits for a good while in challenging conditions.
Wild camping sounds tough – how did you prepare yourself?
I had no experience of camping prior to this really. Maybe if I did, I wouldn’t have shown quite such enthusiasm at the start.
How have you found our neck of the woods? Have the people been friendly?
This is by far the most beautiful stretch of coast I’ve come across so far. There’s a really friendly and dedicated team of people at Exmouth RNLI. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to Kevin at The Ship in Dock Inn, Dartmouth. As well as being a volunteer crew member himself and running a lovely B&B with the best pizzas you’ll find in Dartmouth, he’s kindly put me up for 2 nights to save me from the rain.
You met up with Exmouth RNLI Coxswain, who helped you cross the Exe estuary on a Rigid Inflatable Boat, to pick up the coastal path at Dawlish Warren – how was that?
Steve is a really dedicated, kind man who took me across the Exe, saving me a good 10 mile trek inland to cross the bridge at Topsham.
What have the biggest highs and lows of your challenge been 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 obviously a big physical challenge – are we right in thinking it’s a huge mental challenge too?
If it weren’t for the natural beauty and human kindness I’m finding so much of, this walk would be far tougher. I’m trying to focus on just one section at a time- currently St Ives is the place on the horizon for me. If I look at a map of the entire UK for too long, that’s when I start to freak out at just how much ground is yet to cover.
Where can our readers follow your progress and find your sponsorship page?
I’d love to connect with anybody who may have the slightest interest in what I’m doing or who just want to see nice pictures of our coast.
I’m on Facebook: www.facebook.com/alexellisroswell and Twitter @ellisroswell
Support the vital work of RNLI Lifeboats by donating in support of Alex’s walk at: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/longwalkround