After 352 days, Ash Dykes is now the first person to walk the length of the Yangtze River in Recorded History
It’s official, Ash Dykes has now completed his greatest challenge to date! Ash’s 4000-mile long trek over 352 days has finally come to its conclusion as Ash reached the Pacific Ocean in Shanghai on 12th August. Mission Yangtze is now complete!
Spreading awareness of Mission Yangtze
Ash is now back in the UK and has been on various news channels and programs for interviews about his amazing achievement. So far, he has been on BBC News, ITV News, The One Show, Sky News and Good Morning Britain with even more to come!
Check out this fantastic interview on Sky News Sunrise where he mentions how using his Water-to-Go bottle helped him save around 1400 single-use plastic bottles (3:18)
Mission Yangtze has thrown up a variety of challenges for Ash Dykes
The Welsh adventurer started his journey just under one year ago in August of 2018. Ash has previously achieved two other world firsts being the first person to walk across Mongolia solo as well as a 1,600-mile trek across Madagascar via its eight highest peaks. However, this 4,000 mile trek is a massive step up from anything he’s done before.
Along the journey, Ash has faced a wide range of challenges and environments along the way. Starting in the Chinese Mountains at the source of the Yangtze, Ash faced an altitude of over 5000 metres. This posed potentially fatal challenges such as altitude sickness, sub-zero temperatures and dangerous mountain paths.
Ash would then have to face threats from China’s rural Wildlife. He would have to navigate his way around bears and wolf packs during the treck, with Ash finding bear footprints just centimetres from his tent on some mornings. He also had to manage a pack of hungry wolves following him for long periods of his journey.
As he came out of rural China, Ash would face a completely new environment as he started to travel through some of China’s biggest cities. Temperatures would be the complete reverse to the sub-zero nights he faced at the beginning of his journey going higher and higher as he progressed. Ash eventually acheived his goal in Shanghai following an incredible almost year-long expedition in which he had to be prepared for anything. During a recent BBC Radio 4 interview, Ash described China as ‘a little bit of every country in one’, following his journey along the Yangtze.
Water-to-Go on Mission Yangtze
One challenge that Ash would face throughout the entirety of his 4000 miles is how he would get access to clean safe drinking water. With the sheer volume of walking a physical activity Ash would be doing, making sure can stay hydrated wherever he is would be crucial to his mission. He would also need to avoid any waterborne illnesses, which alone in China’s rural environments could be potentially fatal.
Thankfully Ash was equipped with his Water-to-Go filter bottle. The Water-to-Go filter bottle is able to filter 99.99% of contaminants from any non-salt water source. This meant that no matter where Ash was he could always rely on water from the Yangtze river or puddles, lakes and even bad tap water to stay hydrated. Ash’s Water-to-Go bottle has now accompanied him on all three of his World firsts.
“Big shout out to Water-to-Go. With their water filtration system built into their water bottles, this gave me access to fresh drinking water, any place, anytime, anywhere and also helped me to protect the environment by stopping me from using around 1,400 single use plastic bottles, which cause harm to the environment, during the 352 days.”
We’d like to give Ash a huge congratulations on his incredible achievement from everyone at Water-to-Go!
UK adventurer and Water-to-Go ambassador, Ash Dykes, is getting ever closer to the end of his latest mission. He is only a few days away from becoming the first person to walk the length of the Yangtze River.
He passed the 3000-mile mark of Mission Yangtze and his continuing his excellent progress along the Yangtze and through China. He is covering around 30 miles a day despite everything that the Yangtze has thrown at him. This part of the mission has been an important time to interact with followers, media outlets and people along the way to raise awareness about what he is set to achieve.
During his whole expedition but more recently, Ash has been making time to interact with people along the way, giving interviews or speeches in order to share all aspects of the journey so far.
He has been presenting to children at a primary school, all full of energy and eager to meet Ash in person after they have heard about his extraordinary journey. Ash loves sharing stories about the mission so far and tries to help with advice whenever he can. Whether that is facing challenges and rising against the struggle, or understanding just how amazing our planet is.
Back in March, Ash was featured on the cover story of China Daily documenting his journey with more and more media gaining interest.
Cecille Elbeleidi, British Consul General in Chongqing, called Dykes “an excellent example of UK’s dynamic and adventurous spirit.” “I’m particularly pleased that, along with his expedition, he has been actively promoting environment conservation, reduced use of plastics and wildlife protection,” she told China Daily.
In April, Ash was invited by the ‘China Adventure Association’ for a live interview as well as Chongqing Radio, Chongqing TV, Youth Daily and Discover Chongqing. Ash loved it and is totally excited about the interactivity of his mission so far.
Ash’s status and popularity has been ever-growing in China as more people hear about his latest and previous missions, as well as interacting with his posts on social media.
He has also been presenting, doing various appearances, book signing events, leading a two day trip up a local mountain for Kailas, doing school talks, attending a charity event for disadvantaged children and taking on many interviews and meetings.
This is a great opportunity for Ash to promote his mission, inspire the next generation and provide knowledge from his other adventures. They have all been very well attended and Ash has been overwhelmed by the support and interest in Mission Yangtze, in China particularly.
Ash got approached by the ‘WUJI’ brand that flew him First Class to Shanghai for a ‘fast’ photo shoot for GQ magazine together with Chinese action movie and martial art star 向佐 Jacky Heung. WUJI is a cobranded clothing range between Adidas and international Movie Star Jet Li. WUJI wanted two social influencers, one from the east and one from the west, to come together and show off the beauty of this martial art.
Ash’s background is mainly Muay Thai, but he is always eager to learn more and put on a show. Jacky, with his 10+ years of experience, guided Ash through some basic Kung-Fu moves and certainly got Ash looking sharp for the photos.
There was a recent Adidas Photo Exhibition in Shanghai, followed by the official launch. With Adidas, GQ, Jacky Heung and Ash Dykes sharing across their social media platforms, this generated a reach of tens of millions across China. You can read more about it here.
This is just one example of how Ash’s reputation is growing in China and how word is quickly spreading about his epic mission.
But it hasn’t all been easy as we explained in our previous blogs on Mission Yangtze. He has come through irrepressible weather, threat of dangerous animals and bouts of illness, but now he is facing the challenge of very difficult terrain.
These pictures capture the terrain that he is now covering and are the reason why by at the end of this mission, he would have done over 4,000 miles. Sometimes it’s not physically possible to follow the river by its bank and often he has been forced to either trek on the nearest mountainous ridge – or within the valley on the opposite side to the ridges.
Being able to adapt and understanding your surroundings, is the key to survival.
Ash has had to draw upon his skills and instinct to adapt to his surroundings. He has had to make decisions right from the very beginning that haven’t been the easiest to make but have ensured that he has reached this point in the expedition to minimise threats the safety, health and wellbeing of himself and his team.
He has had to remain focussed on the job in hand and ensure that he kept up the great progress on the expedition, regardless of the other aspects surrounding Mission Yangtze. It hasn’t been easy by any means but has been able to rely on his strict training regime and intense preparation he made in advance of embarking on this latest challenge.
I’ve always taken my training seriously and actually realised my passion for fitness long before exploration. What keeps me motivated is trying to picture the toughest scenarios I’ll face when out in the wild and often – the toughest has come true, where I’ve relied on my training to survive. Whether that’s crossing the most terrifying landslides, hacking through the densest and most demanding jungles or fighting and hanging on in there during a bout with malaria. Mindset is a whole different ball game but never be mistaken – with how important training and fitness is. I don’t come with a military mind, I come self taught, I’ve learnt from people I’ve met and I’ve learnt through making mistakes, falling and standing back up again with no brotherhood support, just my very own mind and body.
The longer routes, however, have been sort of a blessing in disguise as he has been able to take in more of the spectacular sights and atmosphere of China. If he was to stick to walking everyday, he would miss out on the true adventure, which is integrating and learning from the locals that he meets.
Throughout his journey, the people of China have been incredibly warm, welcoming and actually a huge part of the expedition itself, makes this country feel like a second home for him.
There have been several moments or problems that have threatened the mission, even before Ash had it all planned, it seems:
Many had warned me before, that it was impossible to walk the Yangtze from the source to the sea
Because the first section on the plateau (at an average of over 4,500 meters above sea level) and the barely inhabited mountain areas are very dangerous to cross, it was recommended that he shouldn’t even attempt the mission. But Ash carried on with preparations, regardless, and has got through the hardest part of the mission; even if it did take its toll on his team.
In order to cross the plateau and mountains in good weather, the journey was planned to start in summer, but because of delays in preparations, Dykes arrived in Qinghai in late August as the days were becoming shorter and colder. Unwilling to wait for another year, he decided to press on. He would be the first to say it was difficult but his determination and motivation to succeed helped him through.
Mission Yangtze is not only a human feat and world first, it’s a mission to showcase the true beauty and wonders of China, (and) highlight the environment and positive work being done to protect it
Ash managed to spend a day with the 赠客网Zenker Network, who work with disadvantaged children. He shared stories with the children, showing them the impossible is possible, to stay focussed on your dream, follow your heart and the importance of enjoying yet protecting this planet we live on.
This was followed by litter picking along the Yangtze River bank. It is great to see the young people taking care of the planet and the environment. As Ash states – “it’s the future generation that will really help turn around the destruction we’ve caused to this planet 🌏”
Ash has also sought to make this expedition one of the most interactive. This wasn’t just about social media posts, it has been about making appearances and truly getting involved in the local areas and big cities that he has passed through.
Ash loves sharing stories about the mission so far but also of previous expeditions.
The next step has been allowing people to physically join and share the journey, so he can showcase furthermore, the beauty and diversity of this massive country and highlight all the positive things being done to protect the natural environment.
This is all going to be featured in his documentary series that he is working on with a television production company in China. The country is so vast and here are still so many hidden treasures to discover.
Whilst there have been many changes of many aspects during the mission, one thing that has remained the same and with Ash throughout is his trusted Water-to-Go bottle.
Water-to-Go is my number one item on all expeditions
He recently reflected how Water-to-Go has kept him safe over a number years and helped him to complete his other world-first expedition in Mongolia and Madagascar. He has hiked through the Gobi-Desert solo and unsupported, hacked through dense jungle and survived sub-zero temperatures.
He highlighted – “Through all of this, I’ve never had to worry about water, as long as there is a water source near by, this bottle makes it instantly drinkable.
I’ve even scooped up mud puddle water in Madagascar and was able to drink it straight away due to the 3 in 1 built in water filtration technology.”
It is fantastic to hear that during his two world-first records and currently on his third – Ash has not needed to buy plastic bottles. This sets a great precedent to the people following him and all the people that he has met along the way. We are proud to sponsor him and to be a part of his journey.
It has been a huge mission that many said was not possible, but Ash has overcome everything that he has faced so far and is on the brink of history. As Ash enters the final weeks of his expedition, make sure you read all about it and realize how big an achievement this will be.
Clean Safe Drinking Water on Ash Dykes’ Three World First Expeditions
British adventurer Ash Dykes has achieved some incredible feats, from hiking solo through the scorching Gobi desert to surviving sub-zero temperatures in China’s mountains. In this time Ash has achieved two awe-inspiring world first records. In 2014, he became the first person ever recorded to walk across Mongolia completely solo and unsupported, covering an astonishing distance of over 1,500 miles in 78 days. He trekked over the Altai Mountains, through the Gobi Desert and the Mongolian Steppe, all whilst pulling a wheeled trailer weighing 120kg, carrying everything needed to survive.
He then later became the first person in history to walk the entire length of Madagascar’s interior, whilst summiting the island’s eight highest Mountains in the process. Ash is now hoping to become the first person to walk the length of the Yangtze River this year which is set to be an enormous 4,000-mile trek.
However, travelling to remote locations like these means Ash is constantly facing the life-threatening problem of how he can get access to essential clean safe drinking water. In these dangerous conditions drinking dirty water can have disastrous and potentially fatal consequences. Drinking contaminated dirty water can lead to many serious diseases such as Cholera, Typhoid and Dysentery. Additionally, as Ash is in some of the world’s most remote areas, lack of access to medical facilities means these diseases could lead to serious consequences. This is a genuinely life-threatening challenge that Ash is forced to face on every one of his challenges.
Thankfully, Ash has been accompanied by his ‘number one item’, his Water-to-Go filter bottle, on each of his amazing world first missions. Ash has been able to drink from any and every non-salt water source he has come across during his expeditions: ‘Through all of this, I’ve never had to worry about water, as long as there is a water source nearby, this bottle makes it instantly drinkable’. ‘I’ve even scooped up mud puddle water in Madagascar and was able to drink it straight away due to the 3 in 1 built-in water filtration technology’. This means Ash has been able to safely and effectively stay hydrated on his astounding challenges, which in places with high temperatures like the Gobi desert and Madagascar has been critical to his world firsts.
Ash is continuing to make great progress on his current mission to trek the entire length of China’s Yangtze River. He has already passed the half-way mark and is encountering a new side of the Yangtze as he goes from very rural to more urban parts of this amazing river. Whilst the many changes in scenery, people and food; there is one thing that remains the same on his expedition – his Water-to-Go bottle.
Water-to-Go is marking World Malaria Day 2019 along with our partners Malaria No More UK. To find out about our partnership click here.
‘Zero malaria starts with me’
The World Health Organisation has joined with the RBM Partnership to End Malaria. This year the focus is on the ‘zero malaria starts with me’ campaign which is a programme aiming to keep malaria high on political agendas, mobilize additional resources, and empower communities to take ownership of malaria prevention and care.
World Malaria Day 2019 will be hosted in the city of Paris, with WHO and RBM partnership working alongside the French Government and the city of Paris. There will be a range of events organised across the city centre, recognising the importance of fighting against malaria, and the need to step up the fight against this preventable and treatable disease.
The 2018 WHO Malaria Report highlights that funding for prevention efforts have stalled and in fact malaria cases are back on the rise. Whilst significant progress has been made in the past 10 years, until malaria is completely irradicated it will remain a threat to hundreds of millions, primarily in Africa’s poorer countries.
Water-to-Go and Malaria No More UK
We’re excited about celebrating World Malaria Day 2019 with our partners Malaria No More UK. As part of our partnership, we are selling a limited edition branded bottle (as pictured below). With each bottle sold you will be donating £8 to Malaria No More UK and will be aiding their mission to end malaria once and for all, plus you can get yourself a fantastic bottle in the process! To get yourself a bottle click here.
Ash Dykes and Malaria No More UK
Water-to-Go and Malaria No More UK ambassador Ash Dykes has been using his branded bottle during his world first expedition along the Yangtze river. Ash is currently just over half way on his attempt to become the first person to walk the entire 4000-mile length of the Yangtze River.
Ash became an ambassador for Malaria No More UK following his trek across the length of Madagascar. During another of his world firsts, Ash contracted malaria and thankfully survived, stating that he ‘wouldn’t wish [his] experience on anyone, it was truly horrific’.
Malaria No More UK on World Malaria Day 2019
Malaria No More and Malaria Must Die have now launched their new campaign, the world’s first voice petition to end malaria. ‘The Power of the Voice’ campaign aims to get people to call on their leaders to end malaria. You can join Beckham’s call and help end malaria once and for all. To add your voice to the petition visit Malaria Must Die’s website by clicking here.
Water-to-Go ambassador, Ash Dykes, is continuing to make great progress on his current mission to trek the entire length of China’s Yangtze River. He has already passed the half-way mark and is encountering a new side of the Yangtze as he goes from very rural to more urban parts of this amazing river.
We wanted to get the thoughts of Ash after getting to the half-way point in his expedition and his observations so far. In particular, we were interested to hear about the food, the people and his observations of the Yangtze in general. It is clear that there has been a good, a bad and an ugly side of Mission Yangtze.
A lot of people in the UK and the western world are into their Chinese takeaways and have asked Ash whether or not the typical Chinese takeaway meals, are the same as the actual dishes in China. The quick answer would be “no, not really”. In China, it’s better, healthier and there is so much more choice, with the dishes being different in each province.
One of the first places Ash visited was Quinhai, a province in West China, which is one of if not the most wildest parts of Asia in general. There are a lot of locals still living the nomadic way of life, herding their yak and moving from place to place. There are a lot of mongols that Ash has come across, living with their families in nomadic tents and yurts. Up here at 4000 to 5000 metres above sea-level, they experience very extreme conditions. It is very wild and isolated. The temperature is below 0 most of the time, and in Winter it hits -30 degrees Celsius or more
So their food is very heavy and stodgy with a lot of calories to keep them energised. Qinghai Province (west China) which has more of a Tibetan food influence, is made up mainly of fats, proteins and dairy products. It’s heavy and stodgy food that is well needed for those kinds of environments, where there are harsh temperatures and it is at altitude. Ash had a lot of Yak meat, yoghurt, bread, milk, butter and tsampa (roasted flour, usually barley flour and sometimes also wheat flour. It is usually mixed with the salty Tibetan butter tea and great to actually carry with you on long hikes).
When Ash’s journey started to drop in altitude and he ventured into the Sichuan province, the food started to dramatically change. The climate was warmer, there were more plantations and vegetation, the food was far more diverse and a lot tastier, with herbs and spices added to the mix. Sichuan is famous for its spicy hotpots (originally from Chongqing) and the food here does have a kick.
Breaking into Yunnan, they have everything here with so many great dishes. They have all the vegetables, all the meats; and produce loads of meals, suited for all types of eaters. This has been Ash’s favourite cuisine of #MissionYangtze so far.
If you have been following Ash on social media, it is clear that there is an awful lot to experience and witness along the Yangtze river, much of which hasn’t been explored before. The Yangtze is officially the third longest river in the world. In fact, it is only a tad shorter than the Amazon or the Nile – only a couple of days extra walking to make up the difference according to Ash.
People assume that, because of the sheer size of it, the Yangtze is very heavily polluted but to say that, you would be very much mistaken. It perhaps is at the end of it and Ash will observe this at the end of his expedition. Ash has walked over 2000 miles so far and the river has been brown at times. But this is mainly because of the heavy storms they experience there; washing down dirt and clay off mountains in the water and turning it that colour. At the moment, Ash is happy to report that it is blue and very fresh, clean, clear.
“This is another shock. I thought I’d find polluted water – but the 2,000 miles of what I’ve done so far, has been quite fresh. It’s blue and there’s lots of wildlife. Now I’ve hit the halfway point and I’m starting to go north-east, towards Shanghai, I will start seeing a different river. I don’t look forward to seeing that. I took a last look at the Yangtze in all its health, nice and blue.”
So there is a lot of good work being done that Ash has seen and been told about by the locals. There is a lot of protection for aquatic life and endangered wildlife in particular. Ash only learned a few weeks ago that there is there is still the wild dolphin along with the Yangtze alligator that still habits there; that was originally written off as being extinct.
Ash has walked through the main Yangtze provinces of Yunan, Sichuan and Qinghai so far. Each province has its own different people, dialects, feuds, plantations and vegetation. Ash has experienced a different way of life in each of these provinces which has only furthered his knowledge of the Yangtze and China as a whole. But one thing has remained the same – the people and their manner. Wherever Ash has been, the locals have been so friendly and hospitable. He has been welcomed into the community and has been offered a place to stay and eat wherever he has been. The people always try their best to accommodate.
However, it hasn’t always been easy when the people have tried to show their kindness. This ‘kindness’ has often ended up with Ash being detained and questioned by the police! Ash has gone to such wild places that they don’t know what to do so they just end up calling the police. The police have often rocked up at 2/3 am – not to cause harm but to question him as they are worried for his safety. Ash is aware that they might not have seen a westerner before and this has been part of the confusion. The policed have taken him in but always let him go eventually. Ash has just taken it in his stride and accepted that it has just a part of mission.
Constantly being stopped by the police 😆🤦🏼♂️🤷🏼♂️
They’re really not used to seeing westerners here, must move faster 🏃♂️💨 pic.twitter.com/ut5PRwqzJ9
One of the main aspects of Ash’s expedition was to experience the people and the different cultures along the Yangtze. Ash has been surprised at the sheer number of communities and people that live along and depend on the Yangtze. There are at least 111 cities along the Yangtze, that Ash is aware of, that have a population higher than New Zealand which is staggering. With it being so long at 4000 miles, the Yangtze caters for everyone so you find a diverse range of people that live along there.
The first half of his journey has taken him through China’s ‘wild west’, exposing him to the elements and vistas of jaw-dropping beauty. Now he’s preparing to tackle the urbanised east, where human development dominates and cities are interspersed with paddy fields.
“The first half [of this trip] was always anticipated to be the most difficult. It’s sensitive being so close to Tibet and it’s so remote and wild. The terrain was tricky, temperatures dropped below minus 20C, there were snow blizzards and there was a threat from bears and wolves.”
The mission got off to a fairly rocky start – complications with permits, visas and his support team have pushed the challenge back by a few weeks. “On the way up the mountain I lost my videographers through a combination of altitude sickness and the extreme cold,” says Dykes. “Then, my local guide was doubled over and I checked on him, his nose was bleeding and he was struggling for breath. He’s a local Tibetan, who lives in a village at about 3,500 metres [11,500 feet] [above sea level], but even he had to turn back.” This was a big wake-up call for Ash and everyone following the expedition to realise the sheer danger and harsh conditions that is encompassed with this mission.
Despite this, Ash has carried on like the true Welsh warrior that he is and was delighted to reach the half-way mark after so many setbacks and difficulties. However, Ash will be facing a different set of challenges as he starts to travel through the more urban parts of the Yangtze. Ash still has another 2000 miles of adventuring through Chinese terrain where he will encounter fresh challenges and amazing experiences along the way. Ash is prepared for what is to come over the next several months.
“There will be different challenges – maybe snakes and spiders. I can’t go trampling on someone’s land so I’ll have to go around and that’s going to be more annoying and irritating than anything else. The river is a lot deeper, so the tributaries are wider and there’ll be more detours. The river is just under 4,000 miles but this will end up being more than a 4,000 mile trek.”
Whilst the many changes in scenery, people and food; there is one thing that remains the same on his journey that is always there – his Water-to-Go bottle. He has carried his trusted Water-to-Go for the duration of this mission and his 2 previous world firsts across Mongolia and Madagascar to keep him healthy and hydrated with safe clean drinking water.
There have been many points along this mission where he has been desperate for water and has simply filled his Water-to-Go bottle with water straight from the Yangtze itself and the 3-in-1 technology filter has allowed him to drink it straight away.
His Water-to-Go bottle has been an essential item on all of his travels to provide him with safe, drinking water wherever he is. Not only does it help him save money, but it also helps him to save weight and save the planet by not needing to purchase single-use plastic bottles that we find so often polluting our rivers and oceans.
A major part of Ash’s expedition is to travel responsibly and sustainably, and the Water-to-Go bottle allows him to do this. Ash has been explaining this to the people he meets on his journey and is trying to help them become more sustainable as a community. Water-to-Go is the ideal alternative to single-use plastic bottles and we are delighted that Ash is promoting this message on his biggest expedition yet.
Overall, Ash is pleased with how his expedition is going and everything that he is learning about the Yangtze. He is looking forward to the next chapter and will look to keep us all updated with his progress.
Keep track of Ash on his live tracker
So make sure you keep up with Ash on social media as he continues his expedition and experiences the beauties of the Yangtze and China in general.
UK adventurer and Water-to-Go ambassador, Ash Dykes, has reached the halfway point of his massive mission to trek the entire length of China’s Yangtze River. Despite everything that has been thrown at him, Ash has continued to make excellent progress and has already completed half of his third world-first and biggest mission to date.
Ash has walked 2000 miles along the river to reach this huge milestone, and along the way has faced all kinds of life-threatening dangers (landslides, bears and being tracked by a pack of wolves) as well as being held up 5 times by police/government officials.
Death-defying extreme athlete Ash Dykes reached safety at the halfway point of his mammoth world first expedition 9th January 2019, having faced immense threats to his safety whilst attempting to walk the entire length of China’s Yangtze River in just a year.
Having set off on 26th August 2018, Ash has battled the elements and overcome many obstacles to get to where he is now. There have been several times where Ash has feared for his life but has relied on his intense training regimes and wild instincts to get him through a tough first half of the expedition. Despite many tough moments, he has always had the confidence and reassurance to trust his to deliver clean, safe drinking water to keep him hydrated through his mission.
Attempting to complete this expedition and even getting to where he is now is no mean is no mean feat. The Yangtze is the longest river to flow through a single nation and stretches almost 4000 miles from west to east China, through eleven provinces, diverse ecosystems and multiple major cities including Chongqing and Shanghai.
It has taken Ash 136 days and 2000 miles of intense trekking across some of the world’s most dangerous and remote provinces to reach the halfway point in the small Chinese city of Panzhihua, having set off from the Yangtze River’s true, scientific source in the Tibetan Plateau on 26th August last year.
In one of the few remaining ‘firsts’ to be attempted by man, Ash and his team have faced huge challenges on this first half of the expedition, with eight out of nine of Ash’s teammates dropping out mid-mission due to injury, illness or fears for their safety.
The mission got off to a difficult start when Ash’s Tibetan guide suffered the serious effects of altitude sickness on the way to the source of the river and required urgent medical attention, delaying the expedition’s start date. Since then, bears travelling down the mountain to find food before hibernation have posed the greatest threat to Ash’s life; closely followed by wolves. Ash was tracked by a pack of wolves for two days straight not long after the trek began, and has faced the very real threat of aggressive wild yaks, cobras, and giant hornets along the way.
Other natural elements have also made this challenge particularly immense, with temperatures as low as -20 degrees celsius, snow blizzards, glacial river crossings, and landslides pushing Ash to his limit and, at times, forcing him to detour and lose precious days.
Although the most remote, dangerous and uncertain leg of the expedition is now behind Ash, the remainder of the trek will pose threats of different kinds. Rather than bears, wolves and wilderness, Ash will encounter heavily populated cities and some of the most polluted areas of any river in the world. The hot, rainy season means the river is more likely to flood, and as the river widens so do its tributaries, meaning crossings will be more difficult and could lead to further detours and delays.
Despite this, Ash remains positive. He said:
“Without a doubt, Mission Yangtze has been the biggest challenge I’ve undertaken to date. Physically I was as prepared as I could be, but mentally it’s hard to get ready for the harsh and remote landscapes, sub zero temperatures, and the difficulties these bring. I have trekked through some of the most breathtaking and unspoilt parts of the world, but I’ve never felt so vulnerable to the elements and predators as I have done over the past few months.”
“China is an unbelievably diverse country, with each province I’ve crossed bringing unique terrains, climates, wildlife and challenges. I was actually stopped on five occasions by the police, as government officials worried for my security and safety. Despite having to retrace 40 miles worth of the trek after being detained, we managed to push on with the backing of the Qinghai Government and CBCGDF, and really appreciate their concern.”
“Despite the challenges, I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the kindness and hospitality shown by the people I’ve encountered so far. I always say that the locals make or break an adventure, and so far the Chinese have been amazing. It’s been hugely rewarding living and integrating with locals, meeting schools and families, and learning about their lives and traditions.”
“The Yangtze has also been incredibly clean so far, as the Tibetan people will not so much as fish out of the river, let alone throw rubbish in it. I know the second half will be far more polluted, but it’s a common misconception that the entire Yangtze River is being destroyed by the effects of industrialisation. I’m really interested to see how China’s wild west compares with its more industrial and densely populated eastern region.”
“The expedition hasn’t been straightforward but it’s been an incredible experience so far, and I’m really looking forward to seeing and learning even more about this amazing country as I enter into the second half of the mission. Bring it on!”
We are delighted to hear that Ash has already completed half of his most ambitious expedition to date and is continuing to make excellent progress. We can’t wait to hear what happens on the rest of his mission and look forward to providing updates throughout. Make sure you keep up to date from Ash himself on his social media channels and pinpoint where he is along the Yangtze on his live tracker.
We are pleased to report that Water-to-Go ambassador, Ash Dykes, has now reached his second major milestone of along his world first journey. Ash is making excellent progress as he attempts to become the first person to walk the entire 4,000-mile length of the Yangtze river, a trek expected to take him an entire year to complete.
Ash says “it’s been a wild adventure and more extreme than I could have ever imagined”. This part of his Yangtze walk has certainly had its challenges for the UK adventurer but getting to the second bend in the Yangtze marks the end of another chapter as he continue to make great progress on his expedition.
#MissionYangtze so far
Ash has now completed 1,500 miles of his journey, currently residing just outside of Lijiang. He is ahead of schedule which is great to hear especially considering the difficulties he has faced along the way.
The journey started at the scientific source of the Yangtze at an altitude of 5,000 miles above sea level. Since then Ash reached his first major milestone on 3rd October, 550 miles into his journey. Ash resided in his first city of the expedition, Yushu, in the Qinghai province of western China.
So far Ash has overcome a number of challenges whilst travelling through rural China. Firstly, he has had to battle temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius whilst also facing tough terrain in the form of glaciers, mountain passages and cliff faces as well as encountering a number of snow blizzards. This is also had a huge impact on his team that is travelling with him meaning he they have had to take the necessary precautions on his expedition.
Ash explains, “Seven team members have already been taken off the expedition due to altitude sickness, injury or physically not being able to overcome the challenges that have presented themselves. The main thing is, they’re back home, safe and sound, with their families.”
On top of this, Ash has had to deal with the threat of bears and wolves, having found fresh bear prints outside his tent one morning. One technique the team uses whilst walking at night is to blow on whistles, making bears aware of their presence, in the hope they will then stay clear. It is at times like this that we all realise this is not a mission to be underestimated and Ash is fully aware of the challenges he has already faced and that are ahead of him.
What’s next for Ash on #MissionYangtze
Now at the river’s southmost point, the team will take a 90-degree turn continuing through Chongqing, Wuhan and Nanjing before coming to the end of the journey in Shanghai.
Ash will now move from western rural China and into eastern urbanised China. He will face new challenges going through major Chinese cities and hopes to inspire and educate as many people as possible on his way.
You can keep up to date with Ash’s story via his website or through his social media channels. People can even track Ash on his website and see where he is, within 5 metres of his actual location.
Mandarin Films (Ash’s China-based production team who are creating a documentary of this expedition), are soon to release one-minute teaser clips every week. This documentary coverage is heavily anticipated in the Chinese market and is expected to be popular in international markets too. You can view these on Ash’s YouTube channel soon after they are released.
Ash Dykes on Plastic Pollution in the Yangtze
During #MissionYangtze, Ash has been keeping a close eye on the environment in the remote areas of the Yangtze river. This is an important aspect of his expedition and his findings will be very useful to local authorities and environmental organisations. Ash has already been working with the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) as an ambassador since the start of his journey to promote and spread awareness of biodiversity throughout China.
“Protection of the environment is very close to my heart and I always push out the message that you must enjoy this planet we live on, but also protect it,” he says.
Ash says that he is “surprised with how well cared for the Yangtze River and the tributaries that flow into it actually are. I’ve not seen much plastic in the waterways up to now. It’s against the Tibetan culture to disrespect nature”.
It is great to hear this positive news from his findings and we hope to hear more of the same as he continue down the Yangtze. Water-to-Go has partnered with Ash and the team in China will join him at certain sections en route, to educate local communities on plastic pollution and provide water filtration bottles, which give them access to fresh drinking water. Ash aims to deliver presentations, talking about the beauty of China, his adventures and the importance of enjoying yet protecting the planet we live on.
Overall, Ash has been getting on very well in his expedition, despite a few ups and downs at the start, and has been starting to take in the beauty of the Yangtze and China in general.
“China has really proved to be more diverse and beautiful than I could have hoped for, but I’ve had to constantly stay alert and focussed. I’ve certainly been tested in many aspects but I’ve been able to overcome each challenge I’ve faced.”
Ash Dykes on his mission so far
Ash will continue his journey from Dali in the coming days following a short break. We will endeavour to keep you all updated of his progress and we wish Ash and all of his team the best for the remainder of their time along the Yangtze.
Water-to-Go ambassador, Ash Dykes, has reached the source of the Yangtze River in China meaning that #MissionYangtze is officially underway!
Ash has now started his world record-breaking adventure travelling 4,000 miles on foot along the length of China’s Yangtze River. Having made it to the source, Ash is excited about the expedition. In this first part of the expedition, he and his team expect to cover the 200 miles to the mountain village of Qumarleb over the next few weeks. This section of the expedition is some of the toughest, most dangerous terrain he will experience. Chance encounters with bears and wolves are to be expected, as is wild unpredictable weather with temperatures expected to go as low as -23 degrees.
The sheer length of the mission, with its isolation, difficult terrain, including treacherous v-shaped valleys and thick forests, variable climates and everyday dangers, makes this his most intense and challenging mission yet. After months of intensive fitness training both at his home gym in North Wales and in China, people around the globe will be able to follow the expedition and witness Ash pushing himself to his absolute limits as he covers the challenging terrain and interacts with some of the 400 million people who live alongside and depend on the Yangtze River to survive.
This year, the two-time world first record holder and British adventurer will attempt his greatest expedition yet, as he walks from the Yangtze’s source in the meltwaters of the Jianggendiru Glacier on the Tibetan Plateau to its delta near Shanghai, where it meets the East China Sea. The Yangtze is the longest river in the world to flow through a single country and its length has never been walked, until now.
Ash will once again be embarking on an expedition with his trusty Water-to-Go bottle as part of his essential kit. With Water-to-Go by his side every step of the way, Ash will be able to stay well hydrated and healthy throughout his journey. Water-to-Go will be his personal, portable water filtration system that will allow him to find safe, drinking water from any non-salt water source in the world.
Ash is not only a fantastic ambassador but a true inspiration to so many people by showing the importance of pushing your limits, dreaming big, having goals and staying persistent in achieving them.
This expedition and the wider implications are not to be underestimated. Not only is this Ash’s toughest mission but it could quite easily be considered as one of the biggest expeditions ever attempted. Ash has already had plenty of support from family, sponsors and some famous faces who are aware of this challenge.
Good luck and stay safe @AshDykes for your mission along the Yangtze river in China. It’s such an incredible country with unbelievable wilderness – and you will experience warmth from the people like you will never imagine! Respect to you buddy
Master the unknown, the unexpected, the failure and the fear that may live within you. Because when you master it, you’ll take ahold of it and once it’s in your grasp, there’s no way it can sneak upon you and try knocking you down. If you lose grasp of it and it comes for you, it won’t succeed, why? Because you’ll be ready #MissionYangtze #MissionPossible
This would be a revolutionary moment for Ash and the adventure world as he looks to push the boundaries of what is humanly possible. However, his expedition could have more far-reaching effects than that. Water-to-Go have been working with Ash since 2014 and have previously sponsored him his expeditions in Mongolia and Madagascar meaning he could access safe, clean drinking water from any non-salt water source. Ash is also an advocate of sustainable and responsible travel so Water-to-Go allows him to stand by these principles and help protect the planet from plastic pollution.
This has all perfectly coincided with Water-to-Go’s recent launch in China and the recent changes in the country as the Chinese government look to tackle the problem of plastic pollution and make the country ‘greener’. China recently issued restrictions on the amount of foreign trash it will accept for processing, banning the import of various scrap metal and chemical waste products. The ban on imported waste is “a symbolic measure for the creation of an ecological civilization in China,” under the leadership of President Xi Jinping.
The momentum behind Ash and this exhibition has been fantastic so we are sure there will be plenty of interest in the 26-year-old adventurer from Wales and the wider implications as he embarks on his toughest mission to date. The expedition is already being filmed by Mandarin Films, for a TV documentary series and weekly web video episodes will be distributed by some of the largest online and media channels across China and worldwide.
Ash promises it will be just as digitally entertaining as it will be intense. He’ll take on local rituals, compete in martial arts, try the weirdest foods, give back to the communities and encourage people to join him along the way.
Part of his mission is to provide communities with fresh drinking water and education on plastic pollution, and how to enjoy but protect the world we live in. As part of #MissionYangtze and thanks to the initiatives of Health & Happiness (Shanghai), official partners of Water-to-Go, Ash has made it his mission to donate a certain number of Water-to-Go bottles to communities in need of access to clean, safe water at key points along his expedition.
Although he is travelling around rural parts of China, you will be able to see exactly where he is along his route via his online tracker.
Ash expects to complete the world-record setting #MissionYangtze in August 2019 and he will also attempt to make it the most digitally engaging expedition in history. Ash will be using his satellite technology to post regular updates to social media and will go live again on YouTube as often as he can throughout the expedition so you can keep up to date with everything that is going on.
Ash is excited to share one of the greatest expeditions of the decade and inspire children and adults alike. Water-to-Go is privileged to be a part of Ash’s journey and we are looking forward to hearing more about his epic mission as he attempts to make history.
On 23rd June 2018, Water-to-Go hosted the official launch of Ash Dykes’ next expedition, Mission Yangtze, and the Mandarin version of his new book, Mission Possible, in Shanghai. The culmination of several months of gruelling preparation and planning had been leading up to this event for Ash so it was fantastic to be able to celebrate his journey up to this point and what the future aspirations are for this expedition and beyond.
The Water-to-Go ambassador is currently in China to promote and make final preparations for his upcoming expedition, to walk the length of the Yangtze River. It will be his toughest challenge yet – estimating to be 4000 miles and will take at least 1 year to complete. This will be Dykes’ third world first and preparations are in place for it to be considered as an official world record. Once again, Ash will be travelling with his trusted Water-to-Go bottle to stay safe and hydrated wherever he is.
Sustainable travel is an important aspect of Ash’s expeditions which is why the connection with Water-to-Go is so poignant. Water-to-Go is the perfect alternative to single-use plastic bottles and a sustainable solution to the damage caused by single-use plastic. Our unique filters will give you access to safe, clean drinking water from any non-salt water source free of any harmful contaminants meaning you can save money and the protect the planet by not needing to buy bottled water, making it the perfect travel companion.
This has all perfectly coincided with the recent changes in China as they look to tackle the problem of plastic pollution and make the country ‘greener’. China recently issued restrictions on the amount of foreign trash it will accept for processing, banning the import of various scrap metal and chemical waste products. The ban on imported waste is “a symbolic measure for the creation of an ecological civilization in China,” under the leadership of President Xi Jinping. The importance of tackling plastic pollution was one of the key messages British Prime Minister Theresa May delivered to President Xi Jinping during her visit to China back in February and it is now at the top of his agenda.
As a result of this, Ash and Dave Shanks, Founder and CEO of Water-to-Go, had the opportunity to meet John Edwards, the British Consul-General in Shanghai to discuss the wider impact of Ash’s next expedition. Ash’s mission along the Yangtze River is going to have far more reaching implications than first envisaged and could be a huge moment for the adventurer from Old Colwyn.
Water-to-Go distributor in China, Health & Happiness (Shanghai) Environment Technology Co., Ltd. have been working with Ash over the past month to aid his preparations and to build up support and awareness around this whole campaign. The momentum around Ash’s expedition from across the world, particularly in China, has been staggering with interest coming from leading businesses who are looking to get involved and promote sustainable practices, to outlets who want to get their products on a global platform.
Health and Happiness organised a special launch for Ash’s expedition in Shanghai, very fittingly, on a luxury cruise liner on the Yangtze River. Many guests including high profile dignitaries from China, global media and key individuals from around the world were invited to learn more about this venture with keynote speeches from Ash himself and the Water-to-Go team.
Water-to-Go Founder and CEO, Dave Shanks, flew out to China specifically for this event where he also spoke about this iconic moment for Ash and how his expedition aligns perfectly with Water-to-Go’s wider mission and goals.
The night was a celebration following all the training, preparation and hard work from Ash and his team so it was fantastic that we were able to give him a good send-off before he embarks for the source of the Yangtze River to start his mission next month.
Ash was also pleased to be able to officially release his book, Mission Possible, in China as it has just been translated into Mandarin. This book documents his journey up to this point including his 2 other world firsts – solo trekking the length of Mongolia and walking the entire length of Madagascar’s interior. He depended on his Water-to-Go bottle throughout these expeditions and now swears by his bottle to keep him healthy and hydrated wherever he goes.
In all, it was a very successful night and we were delighted to see so much enthusiasm around the mission and the reasons behind it.
Along the way, Ash is seeking to also give back to the local communities, promote positively and spread awareness on his expedition. Water-to-Go will join him at key sections along the Yangtze, to provide our filter bottles to communities, in order to reduce plastic and provide them with fresh, clean drinking water.
The night was also about bringing awareness to certain issues and raising money for specific charities. We were delighted to raise 1,000,000 renminbi at the event for several charities and organisations that we are supporting.
The sheer craze and excitement over the past few weeks as well as at this event from fans, sponsors and supporters would be enough to overwhelm anybody but Ash has managed and dealt with this all superbly. The commencement of this expedition has been months and months in the making so after all the intense and scrupulous preparation, it is great to see everything coming together so well. The 26 year old is set to make history and Water-to-Go are privileged to be a part of his journey.
Ash Dykes is an extreme athlete and adventurer who is embarking on his latest challenge. After conquering Mongolia and Madagascar, Ash has announced details of his forthcoming expedition which is something that has never been done before. Water-to-Go attended an exclusive event at Canary Wharf along with other sponsors and partners to hear the announcement.
On Wednesday 7th March 2018, Water-to-Go ambassador, Ash Dykes, launched his expedition to the world in style. The day saw a gathering of Ash’s team and sponsors at The Pagination in Canary Wharf, to celebrate the launch of the long-planned world first. It certainly went down as Ash’s greatest announcement to date; the expedition was the most talked about news throughout the UK on Wednesday, reaching hundreds of thousands of people within just 12 hours. The news was covered in the likes of the Independent, BBC News, Mail Online to name a few and his announcement video received well in excess of 100,000+ views.
“The support has been overwhelming and I’d like to personally and genuinely thank everyone for being behind me, team members, sponsors and the public – it’s been incredible and is only just the beginning.”
Ash Dykes is attempting to become the first person to walk the length of the Yangzte River.
This year, Ash will attempt his greatest expedition yet, as he walks from the Yangtze’s source in the melt waters of the Jianggendiru Glacier on the Tibetan Plateau to its delta near Shanghai, where it meets the East China Sea. This expedition is set to be his toughest yet; it will be over 4000 miles, an estimated 8 million steps, that will take at least a year to complete. This is definitely not for the faint-hearted. The Yangtze is the longest river in the world to flow through a single country. Its length has never been walked, until now.
The severity of this 6,437km challenge is not to be underestimated. Throughout Ash’s estimated 8 million step exploration, he will undoubtedly come across some of nature’s most intimidating experiences. From snakes to bears, wolves to Asian hornets – the isolating weather-ranging and isolating challenge will push all of Ash’s strengths to the limit.
Ash may be superhuman to most people but even he needs to stay hydrated and find safe drinking water whilst on his expedition. Whilst this may pose some problems to most people, this is something that Ash doesn’t need to worry about. The last thing he would want to do is add to the weight he is already carrying with bottled water not to mention also spending a lot of money on something that he can find for free.
With Water-to-Go by his side every step of the way, Ash will be able to stay well hydrated and healthy throughout his journey. Water-to-Go will be his personal, portable water filtration system that will allow him to find safe, drinking water from any non-salt water source in the world. The Water-to-Go bottle filters out well in excess of 99.9% of all microbiological contaminants in water that can make you ill. These include bacteria, viruses, parasites, lead, chlorine and water borne cysts. This means he can fill up from any non-saltwater source and still be able to drink healthy, safe water making it his ideal travel companion.
Ever since we started working with Ash back in 2014, he now swears by Water-to-Go for all of his expeditions to keep himself healthy and hydrated. That year, Ash became the first ever recorded person to walk across Mongolia solo and unsupported, covering a distance of over 1,500 miles in 78 days. He trekked over the Altai Mountains, through the Gobi Desert and the Mongolian Steppe, all whilst pulling a wheeled trailer weighing 120kg, carrying everything needed to survive. Whilst this was hard going mentally and physically, Ash was able to complete this incredible challenge and stay hydrated by filling up from local water sources without getting ill.
“I had been searching for some time, for a really good & effective water filter to take on my expedition across Mongolia, but I kept coming across water filters that needed to be pumped to purify the water (in a desert of 45 degrees C, this was the last thing I wanted to do).
My agent came across the Water-to-Go stand at an adventure festival and asked for a demo & how they worked. He was so impressed that he sent me a text straight after, in which I then went on the website, and found the perfect bottle to take out with me. I’ll be coming across all sorts of water sources in some extreme locations.
The fact that I could top the bottle up and drink it straight away was what hooked me the most, and it was an absolute must for me in such an environment, but even my latest trek in Scotland saw me topping it up constantly from lochs, rivers etc and the taste was perfect. The bottle really does deliver and I’m super impressed with it & can’t wait to use it on my latest expedition. Fantastic product, team & service, I highly recommend.”
His next amazing challenge was in 2016 when Ash achieved his second world record by becoming the first person to walk the entire length of Madagascar’s interior, whilst summiting its eight highest Mountains. An expedition of over 1,600 miles, taking 155 days to complete where he faced many challenges from being held up by the military, contracting the deadliest form of Malaria, crossing crocodile infested rivers amongst much more, and one that Bear Grylls wished him luck on.
His next expedition is just as mind-boggling and challenging as the others but with Water-to-Go by his side, we are sure that Ash will persevere to complete his toughest challenge to date.
Following our recent launch in China, this has been the perfect opportunity to help promote Ash’s incredible new venture to a whole new audience. We have appointed HH (Shanghai) Environment Technology Co Ltd. as our new partner and distributor for China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao as Water-to-Go continues to expand and enter new markets.
Sustainable travel is an important aspect of Ash’s expeditions which is why the connection with Water-to-Go is so poignant. We are only too aware of the effect that we have on the planet particularly when travelling and Water-to-Go is the perfect sustainable solution to the damage caused by single-use plastic. Water-to-Go are working with several organisations and partners such as Ash to help tackle this problem.
“Water-to-Go are delighted to be sponsoring Ash Dykes on his latest mission along the Yangtze River. Having worked with him since 2014 and sponsored him on his previous expeditions to Mongolia and Madagascar, we couldn’t wait to work with him again following the announcement of his next mind-boggling challenge. We know that in the toughest times of his previous expeditions, Water-to-Go has been with him every step of the way and has helped him through to the end. Ash is a fantastic ambassador for Water-to-Go we are grateful for the faith he has shown in the product and the business.
This announcement has coincided perfectly with our recent launch in China so it has been a pleasure to introduce Ash to our partners [Health and Happiness] in Shanghai. This has not only strengthened our partnership further but has been a great opportunity to promote both Ash’s next venture and our expansion into new global markets. We wish Ash all the best on his expedition and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
Dave Shanks, Water-to-Go CEO
Ash is not only a fantastic ambassador but a true inspiration to so many people by showing the importance of pushing your limits, dreaming big, having goals and staying persistent in achieving them.
Water-to-Go isn’t the only important bit of kit for his expedition. Ash will be able to stay constantly connected with this amazing Galaxy1 IsatPhone and Data Hard Drive from Navarino.
Ash will be venturing on this mission in the next few months and you can stay up to date with everything that goes on as he hopes to make it one of the most interactive expeditions ever as well.
Follow his journey on social media and on his website