Ex-soldier leaves uninhabited Scottish island after 89-day isolation

Chris Lewis was left stranded on the island after the lockdown prematurely ended his fundraising challenge.

An ex-British soldier has left the previously uninhabited island where he had been living since the start of the UK lockdown in March.

Chris Lewis, from Swansea, had walked 12,000 miles of the UK coastline for charity after starting in Wales back in 2017.

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The 39-year-old had originally been camping on mainland Shetland when restrictions came into force on March 23, but owners of a former shepherd’s hut on Hildasay offered it to him when they learned he was stranded.

An ex-British soldier has left the previously uninhabited island where he had been living since the start of the UK lockdown in March.

Chris lived in the hut on the deserted Hildasay with his dog, Jet, without running water, heating, or electricity.

The former paratrooper said living alone on the 108-hectare island had been “the happiest I’ve ever been”.

On leaving the island, Chris explained that a boat regularly delivered fresh water and coal for him, and said he survived by collecting driftwood, foraging and fishing for food.

He said he also made sure he had a large supply of dog food for Jet.

He returned to mainland Shetland on Friday, thanking locals for the “outstanding” love they had shown him.

"As we left the pier, I sat at the back of the boat not really able to say much!" he wrote on Facebook. "I was sad and excited at the same time!! What an adventure the last three months have been living on our own island in lockdown! I will never forget it!

"I feel I left a part of me behind when I left and I look forward to my return in years to come."

"It's amazing how people simply just want to be kind and help whatever way they can. It's incredibly good for the soul."

He said that Shetland residents had been leaving money behind the counter at the local shop to provide supplies for him.

He added: "Leaving Hildasay means more than just leaving the island to me. I know that very soon it will be the end of our island adventure before I return to the mainland.

"Heading down the east coast is going to completely change my walk, it will offer a completely new set of challenges for Jet and I compared to what we have been walking."

Chris has raised more than £98,000 for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity that previously helped Mr Lewis when he became homeless.

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