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A man walking the coastline of mainland Britain to raise money for BBC Children In Need said the highlight of his time in Kintyre was meeting Rhunahaorine Primary School’s pupils.
Chris Howard set off from Heacham in Norfolk on July 26, giving himself a year to complete the 11,000-mile trek in aid of disadvantaged children and young people.
Over the last two weeks, he made his way south from Tarbert to the Mull of Kintyre before returning back up the peninsula’s west coast where he was greeted by Rhunhaorine’s pupils outside their school last Thursday.
‘On Wednesday, we heard that Chris was at Bellochantuy first thing in the morning and we hoped he would be going past us around lunchtime,’ explained Catriona Brown, the school’s headteacher.
‘The children painted banners and made posters which we displayed at our entrance – and there was also a chair with a banana and biscuit for him!
‘We looked out all day but thought we had missed him.’
During his mammoth journey, Chris walks up to 30 miles a day, foraging for food and carrying with him everything required to survive, including a lightweight cooking system and ‘bivvy’ bag to sleep in.
However, he gratefully accepts any offers of hospitality – from a hot meal or groceries to a spare bed or safe place to pitch his tent – that he receives along the way.
After an appeal in last week’s Courier, Chris received several offers of support in Kintyre, including meals at the Glen Bar and Restaurant in Carradale and The Royal Hotel in Campbeltown, overnight stays with a family in Muasdale and in a caravan at Point Sands Holiday Park, and groceries and supplies from Muasdale Stores and the owners of Point Sands.
On Wednesday evening, Mrs Brown learned that Chris was staying with the family in Muasdale and would actually be passing Rhunahaorine at around lunchtime the following day.
‘On Thursday I was more prepared and had copied the article from the Courier for the children to read and had a map of Britain at the ready,’ said Mrs Brown, ‘and we put the banners back out.
‘When Chris arrived around midday, all the children went outside and he showed us where he started from on the map, as well as his route.’
Pupil Emme said he must be ‘really tired’ and someone else said he must have very sore feet!
‘The children said Chris didn’t look anything like his photo in the Courier but I explained that was because his beard had grown so much on his walk!’ added Mrs Brown.
The school’s staff and pupils gathered around the posters and banners to cheer for Chris as he continued on his way.
‘I received so much kindness and thoughtful help in Kintyre,’ Chris told the Courier, ‘but the highlight was meeting the children at the school.’
Chris, who left behind his wife and children to take on his charity challenge, added: ‘I miss my family more than ever when I meet children but it’s so uplifting to visit schools and I hope to go to more as I continue my journey.
‘Thank you to everyone who helped me while I was in Kintyre, including the Courier.’
Chris is now heading for Oban and then Fort William, where he will climb Ben Nevis before continuing north.
Donations can be made via his website at www.thecoastwalker.com which links to his JustGiving page.
People can also keep up-to-date with Chris’s progress via his social media accounts: Facebook and Instagram – @christhecoastwalker; Twitter – @thecoastwalker and YouTube – Chris The Coast Walker.