Young British adventurer Ash Dykes, aged 28, has finished his 4,000 mile trek along the length of the Yangtze River in China.
When he was 24, Ash traversed the 1,500-mile length of Mongolia, with 18 stone survival trailer, solo and unsupported, in just 78 days. Then at 26 trekked 1,600-mile through Madagascar, summiting the eight highest mountains along the way. He contracted deadliest strain of Malaria, was held up at gun point, avoided bandits, crossed crocodile-infested waters on self-built rafts and hacked his way through near-impenetrable jungle.
Now at 28, he has walked the length of the Yangtze River – the third longest in the world - where he was followed for two days by a pack of wolves and walked at 5,100m altitude in temperatures dropping to -20°C.
On 12 August 2019, Ash completed his year-long, 4,000-mile expedition along the Yangtze River in China – he is the first person ever to walk its length. For the final kilometre, he was accompanied by the British Consulate General in Shanghai, Chris Wood, who he has partnered with for the East China launch of the country’s ‘Green is GREAT’ campaign, which promotes environmental sustainability by shining the spotlight on marine plastic, renewable energy and green finance.
It is one of several important conservation projects Ash has supported along the way, alongside initiatives for World Wildlife Foundation, Water-To-Go, Yibin Fishery Protection and Green Development Foundation.
Commenting on his momentous achievement, Ash 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.”
Chris Wood, British Consul General in Shanghai said: “We’re excited to welcome Ash to Shanghai for the climax of his incredible, year-long Mission Yangtze. We’re delighted to be partnering with Ash on the East China launch of Green is GREAT - looking at how we can all work together to tackle challenges around environmental sustainability. The issue of plastic waste is a hugely important one, and the end of Ash’s journey provides an opportunity to raise awareness of how each of us can make a difference to helping the planet.”
Ash has overcome many difficult and extreme physical and mental challenges to achieve this third world first. At the very beginning, the source of the Yangtze River (at 5,100m almost the same height as Mount Everest base camp) was difficult to reach and four of his team left the expedition before it even began due to altitude sickness and the very real possibility of bear and wolf attacks. It wasn’t long after they left that Ash was followed for two days by a pack of wolves, which had killed someone only 24 hours previously.
In addition, Ash faced extreme weather conditions and at the start of his trek, he tackled blizzards and temperatures as low as -20°C while at the end of his journey he endured extreme heat of up to 45°C.
Ash explained: “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. I’ve shared my journeys with millions around the world, with the message ‘if I can, then you can too’. We must enjoy this world we live in, but also highlight issues, showcase the positives and most importantly, protect it."
“Throughout my journey, I’ve been able to take note of the amount of plastics and pollution that I’ve seen from source to sea. The good news is that I’ve also 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.
“Having had huge support from the Chinese media and people, this has not only been one of my most ambitious journeys, but also most enjoyable. It’s been amazing to be able to share the whole journey on my social media, including Instagram and Facebook, as one of the most interactive world firsts.”