A COUPLE are currently in Shetland on a challenge to walk around the UK coastline to raise money for charity.
Daniel McNeil and Charlotte Brook are raising cash for veterans’ charity SSAFA and domestic abuse group SafeLives respectively.
The pair actually met while Daniel was a couple of months into his walk – and Charlotte decided to leave her job and join him.
The couple arrived in Shetland on 11 May and so far have walked the east coast from Lerwick to Sumburgh Head.
They are currently in Fair Isle where they have immersed themselves in island life by helping out on a croft.
Daniel – who was previously in the army – said the walk across the UK and its islands will cover around 16,000 miles, and it could take around three years to complete.
It echoes the charity walk Chris Lewis took on in recent years, also for the SSAFA – in which he got stuck in Shetland when the Covid pandemic hit.
Daniel and Charlotte have given themselves three months to cover Shetland’s coastline.
“Shetland is so beautiful, the coastline is rugged and wild and that’s what we love,” Daniel said.
“The scenery is stunning but the most important thing about Shetland have been the people.
“It’s amazing that a stranger can help you in the act of kindness and generosity. We’ve had so much support, for example teas, coffee, water filled up, accommodation and food.
“It’s appreciated so much and were always grateful for the support we receive. It would be extremely difficult without it.”
One moment which will stick in the memories for the wrong reasons, however, is the boat trip to Fair Isle on the Good Shepherd in bumpy weather, with both vomiting – and in Charlotte’s case, a number of times.
“The boat to Fair Isle was definitely not a highlight – maybe getting off the boat and onto solid ground was,” Daniel said.
The walk so far has covered around 4,000 miles.
“I started in Dumfries and Galloway and started walking clockwise around the west coast,” Daniel said.
“I wasn’t intending to do the islands but after doing isle of Arran that’s when my love of island hopping began.”
Charlotte though has not been on the whole trip – she actually met Daniel while he was walking near her home on the west coast of Scotland.
In a twist of fate, and long story short – romance blossomed and the pair have since become an item, with Charlotte joining Daniel on the charity challenge.
“Dan was on a walk around the UK coastline and after a friend told me he was heading my way, I had a strong feeling that I needed to meet the guy and find out why,” she explained.
“So a message was sent and what was meant to be an afternoon of being his tour guide led to four days adventuring around Loch Fyne.
“After speaking every day and joining him for a few islands during the summer, I eventually left my job and life behind to join him on his epic challenge.
“At this point it was late November and we were heading off to tackle Orkney, so it was like jumping in at the deep end.”
As Charlotte is on the journey for the “long haul” she decided to set up her own fundraiser and Facebook page.
“I’ve chosen a charity with aims close to my heart and will be raising money for SafeLives – the national charity dedicated to ending domestic abuse for everyone and for good,” she said.
“It’s a topic that I’m very aware of and I feel it’s a hush hush topic that thrives off the silence and behind closed doors. So it needs to be talked about and the voices of survivors and those suffering need to heard and not silenced any more.”
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