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British explorer becomes ‘first person to walk length of Yangtze River’

During the course of the trek Ash Dykes said he tried to raise awareness of conservation projects.

The expedition took a year to complete (Ash Dykes/PA)
The expedition took a year to complete (Ash Dykes/PA)

By Tom Horton, PA

A British explorer has claimed to be the first person to complete a 4,000-mile (6,437km) expedition on foot along the length of China’s Yangtze River.

Ash Dykes, 28, from Old Colwyn in North Wales, finished the year-long expedition on Monday.

During the course of his journey he said he experienced altitudes of 17,060ft (5,100m), blizzards, and temperatures as low as minus 20C (minus 4F).

Mr Dykes said: “It’s an unreal feeling to cross the finish line.

“It took two years to plan and one year to execute, so it’ll take a while to sink in.

“But it’s such a special moment – history is created.”

View this post on Instagram

First photo taken almost one year ago. Second photo, taken yesterday. Same journey, a year apart. I’m still here, grinding away after almost 4,000 miles, walking west to east China, the entire length of the Yangtze River. 💥 I’ve stayed persistent, focussed and not forgotten the dream. The pain, struggle and hardships, nobody will ever know and the lessons, wonders and experiences, will never truly be fully explained. 💥 But come Saturday 10th of August, when I finally cross that finish line, achieving my third world first record after 350 days. I hope it provides some motivation or inspiration that whatever dream or vision YOU have, through discipline, persistence and that dogged never back down attitude - it is all possible to achieve, regardless of the obstacles. Five days left! Let’s get it 💪🏽🤩 #missionyangtze

A post shared by Ash Dykes (@ash_dykes) on

Members of a team who were walking with Mr Dykes dropped out before the expedition had even begun because the source of the Yangtze River was so difficult to reach and there was a risk of being attacked by wolves and bears, he said.

He claimed that in the early stages of the journey he was followed for two days by a pack of wolves which had recently killed someone.

Later on in the journey he met up with other walkers who accompanied him on his expedition.

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The journey was around 4,000 miles long (Ash Dykes/PA)

Mr Dykes added: “This has been more than a personal achievement; it is unlocking human potential and showcasing that, in a world where every corner of the planet is occupied by people, there are still things that haven’t been done.

“It has also been far from just a challenging journey, as it’s been a cultural one too.”

Mr Dykes has used the expedition to highlight conservation projects by organisations including the World Wildlife Fund and the Green Development Fund and he recorded the amount of plastic and pollution he saw along the way.

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Ash was accompanied by a team of explorers on the expedition (Ash Dykes/PA)

He said: “The good news is that I’ve seen a huge increase in knowledge and understanding within the communities, towns and cities along the way.

“People are aware of the damage being caused to their water sources and are now actively changing their ways for the better – it’s inspiring to see.”

Commercial sponsors including sunglasses and camera manufacturers contributed towards the cost of the trip.

In 2014, Mr Dykes became the first recorded person to walk across Mongolia from west to east in an unsupported solo expedition which took 78 days.

He also became the first recorded person to traverse the length of inland Madagascar, trekking 1,600 miles (2,575km) over eight mountains in 155 days in 2016.

PA

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