AN explorer and expedition leader who takes groups into exotic locations is close to completing a personal challenge to show how the great outdoors can help with mental health struggles.

Matthew Kettlewell, from Askrigg, Wensleydale, is a freelance leader of expeditions in jungle and mountain locations, but has taken time out of his busy schedule to complete the 874 miles from Land’s End to John o’ Groats on a recumbent trike.

Mr Kettlewell said he was posting pictures of his journey on social media and wanted to show how getting outside can help your mental health.

He said: “I am using a recumbent trike because I was offered one and wanted the challenge.

“I set off on March 31 and gave myself until April 20 to complete it but I am currently ahead of schedule and hope to be in John o’Groats by Sunday or Monday."

Mr Kettlewell said he had a few scary moments when drivers had not noticed the trike which is low to the ground.

"He said: "I am taking more B roads than A roads because otherwise it would be a bit too stressful. I do have a florescent flag attached to the back of my bike but there have been occasions when drivers have not seen me until they are right behind me.

"It has meant that I have been able to make stops when there is something interesting to see. I saw an aquaduct near Preston when I was going along the canal, and took a slight detour into Wales."

He said: "I am doing it completely by myself, carrying everything I need with me to camp. I have cycled through all weathers so far – sunshine, heavy rain, hail and snow.

"I have had to stay in a hotel one night when I’d got soaking wet and needed to dry out, and I spent one night at home on my way through Wensleydale so I could wash and dry my clothes.”

Mr Kettlewell said he was covering more than 100 miles a day on his route from Cornwall, to Preston via Wales, and across to Edinburgh then north to John o’Groats.

He said: “I have suffered with my mental health in the past and I found that a great way of dealing with it is to get outside, getting social, and doing exercise.

"Getting out in the sunlight and being active is a great tonic.

“I grew up near Askrigg and still live there now although I’m not there very often with all the travelling – it can be isolating so it is important to get outside.

"I have been posting on social media about my adventures."

Mr Kettlewell has travelled extensively across the world, and gives tours of South East Asia, Central America and has worked in Africa.

He trained in bush craft and survival skills in order to take groups out to remote locations.

This year he will be taking tour to Everest Base Camp and Kilimanjaro for the first time.

He said: “The trips are intense but I get a lot of satisfaction out of it, especially when it young people and you see them grow throughout the trip.

“The climbing trips are something new for me. I have been to altitude before but you never know how it is going to affect you, some people get really ill with it.”