Project Origin by Ambassador Dave Cornthwaite


In December 2014 KEEN Europe Ambassador Dave Cornthwaite plans on beginning a new adventure series called Project Origin. Using an easily transportable inflatable Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP), this project will take him to 6 continents during the next three to five years, completing twenty-five different SUP journeys, each a minimum of 100 miles in distance.

Dave will work with multiple reforestation organisations around the world to both raise funds allowing the planting of one million new trees, in addition to creating a documentary both sharing stories from each SUP adventure, as well as lessons of the importance of reforestation and why it is necessary.

With each journey taking between a few day and two weeks, this project will be an idea and inspiration bank for people hoping to complete their own adventures at the same time as dealing with limited holiday each year.

From solo expeditions to group journeys, Dave will be joined by a variety of inspiring, interesting people to spice up each episode.

Each journey will take place in a different place. From first-time circumnavigations of islands to Amazon tributaries, a Madagascan coastal journey to a Scandinavian archipelago, the variety and content promised by this project is incredibly exciting and designed to inspire.


  • Liaising with reforestation charities to raise awareness of climate change solutions and collect funds to plant 1,000,000 new trees (Target: £400,000).
  • Instil the importance of a global mindset while taking on adventures with a worthwhile legacy, using adventure to create a culture of education and positivity.
  • Project Origin as an inspiration to really FOLLOW YOUR FEET – Dave’s role is that of a door opener helping people making a step to an own micro-adventure.


Dave, what is the motivation behind all your adventures and journeys?

My motivations have changed a bit in the last few years, or rather, they’ve piled up! I started adventuring because it presented the most obvious means of escape from a life I wasn’t too happy with. It didn’t take too long before I was addicted to those feelings of nature, accomplishment, living simply (carrying everything I needed for months on my back or on a paddle board), keeping fit and healthy and, importantly, having a goal to aim for. It kept me focused and motivated.

The best thing to come from this weird and wonderful life is that I get to help others overcome the hurdles between the conception of an idea and their own first adventures. It took me ages to get to my first start line but over a decade I’ve worked out a few simple rules, and it’s definitely an extra motivation seeing other people heading out on their own life-changing paths.

With Project Origin you start a new adventure series now. What do you want to accomplish with it?

Since 2006 I’ve been slowly ticking off the first eleven legs of Expedition1000, a homegrown project with each journey non-motorised and a minimum of 1000 miles in distance. Although this is super ambitious and without doubt the core of my personal adventure, I’ve been thinking for some time about finding a series of smaller adventures that can fit in between my day job (the 1000 mile journeys!) at the same time as having a wider impact.

So, Project Origin is the result of this. There are three parts to it: Planting one million trees. Actively helping hundreds of people each year to #Begin their own journeys (with each one of these committing to raise £500 minimum towards the tree planting). And my own series of twenty five SUP journeys, each with a 7.5kg inflatable board that I can carry anywhere, each just over 100 miles, and each taking less than two weeks. It’s a really powerful, exciting project, attainable no matter how busy we are, and with a massive impact both environmentally and on a community basis.

What does FOLLOW YOUR FEET mean to you? 

I think it’s a simple, positive message. And it ties in with heart and gut and head. You know when you have an idea, a spark that sets off some kind of awesome chemistry deep inside, and ignoring that idea is practically impossible. It shouldn’t be ignored, there are only so many times in life when we’re fired up with passion to go and do something new. If your feet want to walk or run, let them!

Why do you want to inspire others to begin and to follow their feet?

Going on an adventure (big or small), especially a self-powered one, offers so many personal development benefits. You realise you’re capable of way more than you thought possible before you gave yourself the chance to overcome challenges. It is possible to be happy when surrounded by barely anything. Sucking in fresh air and feeling sweat and sun on your face is a surefire prescription for sustainable contentment and the fire behind that is to have a big goal to aim for. It keeps the brain ticking and the feet moving. I can only speak for myself, but I’m a better individual and friend because of adventure than I ever could have been in my previous life.

FOLLOW YOUR FEET sounds so simple. What is it actually that holds us back starting an adventure? How can people get rid of these concerns and turn them into something positive?

It’s not easy setting off into the unknown (even if the unknown is just an idea or a new habit). The biggest hurdles are money, fear and the noise and expectation of people around you, which can easily hold you back. So here’s my answer to each one:

Money: adventures don’t have to be expensive. Over half of my multi-month 1000+ mile journeys have cost less than £1000.

Fear: it’s always way more scary planning a trip and overthinking all the dangerous things that can happen, than actually facing those things in the middle of an adventure. Fear is always greatest at a distance.

Noise and expectations: This is YOUR life, nobody else’s. 99% of the time when someone is telling you you shouldn’t do something they’re talking to themselves because THEY wouldn’t do it. But don’t let their fears hold YOU back.

I set up #Begin so I can bunk people over these hurdles, which can seem huge but are mostly just in our minds. It’s amazing what a bit of encouragement can do to keep you running and finally after years of adventures I think I know what I’m talking about. At the very least it’s worth giving that first adventure of yours a go, you never know what might happen next.

Get inspired to FOLLOW YOUR FEET & help planting 1 Million trees!