Charlotte and Daniel think it will take four years in total to finish their trek (Picture: Daniel McNeil/SWNS)
An army veteran who sold all his belongings to walk 16,000 miles along the entire UK coastline has found love along the way.
Daniel McNeil, 26, packed up his home in Dumfries, and sold everything before starting his long trek in March last year.
When he least expected it, Daniel found love. He met his girlfriend Charlotte Brooke, 25, along the way and the pair have spent the last year exploring Scotland.
The pair first met in Dunoon, Argyll and Bute, where Charlotte offered to show Daniel around.
Very quickly, an afternoon turned into four days and Charlotte decided to quit her job in a hotel last November to join Daniel on his expedition.
The couple are currently in Edinburgh and walk 15 miles a day and stay in a tent.
So far, they have completed 4,100 miles but said the entire trip will take them another two years to finish.
Daniel said: ‘I started thinking about the walk during lockdown, I just wanted to do something positive, so I sold all my items and gave my house back to the council.
Daniel and Charlotte together (Picture: Daniel McNeil/SWNS)
‘Two months in I met Charlotte in Dunoon. She sent me a message saying she could take me around the coastline there.
‘An afternoon turned into four days together and then she joined me in the summer to go around the isle of Coll, Skye and Iona.
‘Last November she decided to give up her job and spend the winter with me in Orkney. We walk about 15 miles a day but can do as much as 22 and as little as six – it just depends how we are feeling and what the weather is like.
‘We pack up around 9am and walk all day until 7pm. Sometimes we don’t know where we are going, other days we have a plan – we just go with the flow.’
Daniel on his journey along the coast (Picture: Daniel McNeil/SWNS)
While the pair camp most of the time, sometimes people will offer them accommodation too.
‘We are in Edinburgh now but will move down Newcastle way soon and spend Christmas and New Year in England,’ Daniel explained.
‘We are two years in and think it will take us about four years to complete.
‘We pick up odd jobs now and again to top up our funds for over the winter, but the kindness of people has helped a lot.
‘We have gifts of clothes, hotel stays, people offering us accommodation – the best part has been seeing the kindness of other people.’
Charlotte, originally from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, was living in Strachur, Argyll and Bute, when she met Daniel.
She said she went from being single to spending 24-hours a day with her new boyfriend. It is her first relationship but she thinks they are meant to be.
Army veteran Daniel is raising funds for SSAFA (Picture: Courtesy Daniel McNeil/SWNS)
‘Daniel was staying at a friend’s house in Dunoon and I just knew I needed to meet him,’ Charlotte said.
‘I didn’t know what he looked like or anything, it was an instinctive feeling.
‘I took him for a tour and what was meant to be an afternoon has turned into a relationship. I joined him for some islands over the summer and then last November I decided to quit my job and join him the whole way.
‘I would never have classed myself as a walker or a hiker before, it has been a lot to get used to. I dived straight in.
‘Meeting Daniel was not something I ever expected to happen. This is my first ever proper relationship so it’s unique. It’s not your typical “we met on Tinder” story.
The couple are loving the journey (Picture: Daniel McNeil/SWNS)
‘I went from being single to us being together 24/7 but I think we are meant to be.’
Daniel joined the army in 2012 but left five years later after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.
The couple now hope to raise £100,000 for veteran charity SSAFA and Women’s Aid.
‘I left the army in 2017 and it all just went downhill from there,’ Daniel said.
‘I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease so some days I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t get of bed – I was really struggling with anxiety and depression.
‘SSAFA were there to help me and give me that kindness I really needed, they lifted me up.
‘After that I completely turned my life around. I started mediating, going to the gym, and looking after my body.
‘We are hoping to raise £100,000, and so far we have about £10,600.’
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