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Ex-paratrooper walking UK coastline for Armed Forces charity has 'never felt so at home' in Sutherland

By Niall Harkiss

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Russell Chittenden first embarked on his ambitious plan to walk around the coastline of the United Kingdom six months ago.

Having set off from Land’s End in Cornwall last July, the intrepid rambler now finds himself in the North Highlands almost half-way through his challenge, making his way up the east coast of the NC500.

Russell Chittenden has been walking the coastline of the United Kingdom to raise funds for SSAFA - the Armed Forces charity.
Russell Chittenden has been walking the coastline of the United Kingdom to raise funds for SSAFA - the Armed Forces charity.


Since the turn of the year, the man from Aylesbury has made stops in Tain, Inver, Edderton, Bonar Bridge and Spinningdale on his way north to John o' Groats.

As he passed through Golspie last Saturday, former British Army paratrooper Russell said on social media: "I'm a long way from home, the home I had given up in May 2023 to walk the coastline. However, home seems to be everywhere now. I’ve never felt so at home, even in the bleak Scottish winter. It’s almost like this is the back garden I grew up in, on Nottingham University.

"Who knows when I’ll be home home, but for now I’m content being surrounded by the Highlands on one side, and the roaring ocean, the other."

Having "struggled to find a place in the world" since leaving the Army, Russell set out to raise funds for the SSAFA - the Armed Forces charity and to raise awareness of mental health issues in the forces.

The charity is one close to Russell's heart, as he explained when he launched his campaign: “Nothing was going right. I was really missing my work mates from the Army. You build up such a bond and then when you leave there’s nothing like that.

"I’d got into the habit of drinking quite a lot with my mates when we were serving, and when I left, I didn’t have that group of people around me, so I carried on alone, which was a big mistake.”

It was after speaking with his brother that he said he needed to "take a long walk and figure stuff out".

And he did just that. It was then that he took inspiration from fellow serviceman, Christian Lewis, who completed a six-year round-the-UK coastline walk between 2017 and 2023, raising over £500,000 for the Armed Forces charity.

But in a twist, he decided to tackle the route his own way – anticlockwise.

He is currently accepting donations via JustGiving and has so far raised over £20,000 of his £50,000 target for the SSAFA.

Chronicling his journey using social media, he has been sharing the various stages of his adventures by providing regular updates and photographs on Facebook.

On more than one occasion, he has been met with kindness on his travels, having been helped out with ferry tickets, free food and hot dinners on rainy days.

Russell's travels can be followed on his quirkily-named Facebook page, Russ walks the UK Anticlockwise.

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