‘Inspiring’ fundraiser Russ nears John O’Groats despite snow and freezing temperatures

Buckinghamshire-based Russ Chittenden is has set a blistering pace since stepping off from Land’s End in August 2023 on an anti-clockwise fundraising walk around the UK coastline.

The former Para, who lives in Aylesbury, is on a journey for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity that helped him. He has already clocked up hundreds of miles and has recently passed Dornoch and Golspie, and has John O’Groats in his sights.

His story is not an uncommon one. Leaving behind the camaraderie of Forces’ life – especially in such a tight-knit regiment as the Paras – can result in a void, and habits where once your muckers looked out for each other can become problematic if continued.

As Russ says:

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.”

But in what Russ has described as his “darkest hour”, he looked for help, which he found in the form of SSAFA, the UK’s oldest tri-service charity.

Russ joked to his brother about needing to:

“…take a long walk to sort things out”, and, by chance, this coincided with seeing a post on Instagram from fellow former Para Chris Lewis, who walked the UK coastline for SSAFA.

That was it,” he added. “I knew what I needed to do. I’d pick up the fundraising baton for SSAFA from when Chris stopped. I decided to walk the other way around Britain so that Chris’s up-hills will be my downhills. We’ll have looked at the same coast, but from different perspectives. A bit like life, really.”

His dash around the UK coastline is so quick that the best way to keep up with his progress is on his Facebook page Russ walks the UK anticlockwise, while to help him smash his £50,000 target, go to

Public support for Russ has been immense – and needed. Walking over Christmas and New Year, through rain and cold – the current air temperature is around -4 °C with a “feels like” temperature of -10 °C as well as snow – takes a certain kind of devotion, especially on your own.

Well-wishers on his Just Giving page have left messages of support such as:

An inspiring treat to meet you on Embo Beach today, Russ

Incredible effort, Russ! A great cause


Good luck on your challenge. As a SSAFA volunteer, many thanks for supporting this worthy cause”.

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