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60-year-old man and 20-year-old cob walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats

A 60-year-old man and his 20-year-old cob have been hitting headlines as they near the end of their walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

The story of Barry Johnston and Barney the coloured gelding has been touching hearts after Andrew Feeney found them and shared their story on his Facebook page.

Andrew, who started Andrew’s Journey last November to raise awareness of mental health and stillbirth, as he himself walked from Glasgow to Land’s End, told H&H his brother came across Barry and Barney last Friday (16 October).

“He said he’d found a man and a horse on the side of the road, on their way from Land’s End to John O’Groats,” he said. “He was a bit down because he’d come all that way and no one really knew what he was doing.”

Andrew went to meet Barry and Barney, after they had spent a night on Andrew’s brother’s farm, and has been supporting them since. Barry has been sleeping in Andrew’s trailer tent at night, and Andrew has also been sharing his story on social media, and alerting newspapers and radio stations in the Glasgow area.

“He’s a champion of a man,” said Andrew, who thanked farrier Steven Rooney for shoeing Barney at short notice. “It’s some task he’s taken on and it’s a privilege to support him.”

Barry told H&H he was put on furlough from his job as a hotel porter, so he decided to undertake the challenge in aid of the RNLI. He boxed Barney, who he has owned for 17 years, from their home in Burton-on-Trent to Cornwall in July.

“We’ve just been winging it, really,” he said. “Barney loves it. He’s a good old stager, who will pull a cart or do anything, and he’s proper, proper fit.”

By Thursday (22 October), Barry and Barney were near Glasgow, and Barry reckoned he would reach his destination in ‘over a month, but not a lot over”.

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“How long is a piece of string?” he asked. “I might do 10 miles a day, I might do 20; that’s how it’s been all the way.

“I’ve enjoyed it; there are lonely moments but you have to rise above it, and I’ve been pretty lucky with the weather.

“I aimed to raise £1,000 for the lifeboats, a quid a mile, and it’s over £3,000, but I’m happy with whatever they get.”

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