TAVISTOCK Musical Theatre Company member Malcolm Rowe from Metherell has recently completed a sponsored charity walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

Malcolm, 67, finished the 910 mile walk in 74 days and smashed his target of £5,000 for Children’s Hospice South West. He endured a heatwave, thunderstorms that soaked him through to the skin, a bout of serious leg trouble at the beginning which required medical treatment (cellulitus) and some rather dangerous traffic.

Taking on the challenge had always been on his bucket list after seeing people do it ever since he was a teenager. By completing this, Malcolm could also support an important children’s charity. At a time when things felt uncertain due to the pandemic, Malcolm felt there couldn’t have been a better opportunity to utilise the time out. His decision was somewhat impromptu; it took three to four weeks’ planning and he then only gave the charity a week’s notice of his decision. ‘I did one training walk which nearly killed me!’ he said, ‘It was planned at 20 miles, I managed 18 and crawled home. I thought, it’s only walking, how hard can it be?!’

Malcolm initially planned to walk 16-17 miles a day but other factors meant he averaged 14, carrying a large and a small rucksack and ensuring he had sufficient food and water each day, walking entirely alone and staying self-funded in hotels and Air BnBs. He said: ‘I met hundreds of cyclists but not one walker. Mentally I’m quite strong, so it didn’t bother me.’

Malcolm booked the first three weeks of accommodation and intended to continue planning his route on the map by finding places to stay accordingly but this strategy proved transient: ‘I quickly threw the map out the window. So many places were fully booked that I ended up walking a route in a vaguely southward direction and zig-zagging quite often, going to wherever I’d found a place to stay.’

Malcolm’s good friend Bill Gowans continually tracked his location by GPS from his home in Wadebridge. Malcolm regularly liased with the charity and uploaded weekly Facebook posts to inform people of his progress.

Where possible, he stuck to the quieter roads. ‘I’ve gone off-road and got lost a bit — I’m used to jumping into hedges now! My best advice would be to take longer than me and don’t go on the A roads as there are no laybys or paths. Or just don’t do it at all!’

Regarding his highlights, Malcolm said: ‘Finishing! I saw some stunning views in Scotland walking alongside Loch Lomond and Loch Ness. Whilst I didn’t meet a huge amount of people, the ones I did were very kind in donating.’

Malcolm is hugely thankful to everyone who donated and supported him, including his former work colleagues and fellow residents of Metherell. A show run by Tavistock Musical Theatre helped him to raise an additional £300. His current total stands at over £6,300.

Zoe Partridge, area fundraiser for CHSW said: ‘We are so grateful to Malcolm for undertaking such a big challenge all in the name of Children’s Hospice South West. He has not only raised an incredible amount of money for the charity but also helped to raise vital awareness too which is just as important. Well done Malcolm and thank you to all of his supporters.’

Malcolm’s JustGiving Page will remain open until January of next year. If you would like to donate, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Malcolm-Rowe2