Matlock couple in race for Covid vaccine appointment as they begin epic walk home from Land's End

A Matlock man is going to greater lengths than most to get his Covid vaccination after setting off on a months-long walk from Land’s End to John o’ Groats hoping to be home in time for a second dose.

Thursday, 29th April 2021, 9:32 am

Hackney residents Andy and Tessa Whittaker hit the trail from Cornwall on Sunday, April 18, and are aiming to pass through Matlock by the time of Andy’s follow-up jab in mid-May.

The adventurous couple are taking a scenic route to celebrate Tessa’s 60th birthday and, if all goes to plan, will end their journey some time in late June.

Andy, a retired firefighter, said: “We both used to be members of Matlock running club and been fairly physical all our lives, but I had a heart attack in 2013 and died for half an hour, so it’s been walking pace ever since.

Tessa and Andy Whittaker have set out on an odyssey the length of Britain.
Tessa and Andy Whittaker have set out on an odyssey the length of Britain.

“We previously did the G5 route from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean and were doing a lot of walking in lockdown.

"We thought it would be good to do something major for Tessa’s birthday.”

For psychotherapist Tessa, there are other reasons to repeat a journey the couple completed on a tandem bike before Andy’s heart attack.

She said: “Working in mental health, there’s something important about taking on a challenge and focusing on a chunk at a time.”

Andy, 62, is not the only one to have escaped a scary situation, as Tessa nearly stepped on an adder somewhere near the Devon-Cornwall border just a few days in.

They are following the coastal path through the South West and managed 130 miles in the first week.

Once they reach Wales, they will move on to the Offa’s Dyke path, and then on through Staffordshire.

Andy said: “The path has had a lot ups and downs and been quite tough going, but the weather’s been beautiful and the scenery fantastic.”

Due to the pandemic, they have been relying on self-catering accommodation and a bit of logistical help from their son.

Andy said: “With pubs still shut, it hasn’t been easy to find a pint at the end of each day.

"I’m looking forward to getting back to the Laburnum Inn in Upper Hackney.

“But I hope this shows anyone who might be having health problems of their own that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”