Big Issue Vendor

Vendor Garry is off on his 1,650-mile trek from Land’s End to John O’Groats

The big-hearted Bristol seller has begun his mammoth walk for The Big Issue Foundation, our charitable arm

Bristol vendor Garry Buchan has long put his best foot forward for The Big Issue.

Twice in two years he has set off on walking challenges to raise money for The Big Issue Foundation, our charitable arm.

Now, he is embarking on his biggest challenge yet – walking 1,650 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats for charity.

Outdoors-loving Garry, who sells the magazine at Park Street in Bristol, hit the national headlines earlier this year after leaping to the aid of a stricken moped rider.

Garry Buchan
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Garry is hoping to complete the gruelling challenge inside three months

He was planning on following that up with a walk from Land’s End to Dover, a distance of 119 miles. But instead a misprint in local media suggested that he would take on the heftier challenge of going from the UK’s most south-westerly point to its most north-easterly landmark – Land’s End to John O’Groats.

So Garry, 43, who is originally from Aberdeenshire, rose to this bigger challenge and will instead depart from Land’s End to head north on July 31.

The gruelling walk will see him carry his 60kg pack of camping supplies an incredible 1,650 miles – four times the distance of his original plan – on a route that avoids motorways and other potential hazards.

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“I’ll only have 12 to 14 days of rest in two-and-a-half months and I’ll be camping throughout, maybe I’ll be able to afford enough for a campsite if I have the money,” says Garry, who has set himself the challenge of completing the journey inside three months.

“Initially it was going to be Dover to Land’s End and I was going to do this next year but after I saved the woman’s life on the moped nine weeks ago, there was a misprint that said I was going to do Land’s End to John O’Groats so I thought, ‘I have to do it now’.

“I’ve just had to change my diet and changed what I’m going in terms of walking, going up and down hills and things like that to prepare. The intense heat is certainly going to make it difficult to start off with, certainly up until I get up to Scotland, but at least I will be near the coast in a few places at the start so I can cool off in the heat a bit.”

Garry, who was forced to sleep rough after he lost his job as a foreman of construction sites in Aberdeenshire, will be trekking with the hope of raising £2,000 in aid of The Big Issue Foundation.

Throughout the challenge Garry is planning to sell the magazine during stops at Peterborough and Milngavie.

He has already proven his walking prowess by conquering the West Highland Way and the Great Glen in 2016 in aid of charity Help for Heroes. He then went on to cover 190 miles last year to raise £495 for The Big Issue Foundation.

“I’m used to the isolation and mental strain from my time spent rough-sleeping so it won’t bother me and I know about the physical and mental strain from my previous challenges – that experience will help,” Garry adds.

“When I’m up in places like Glencoe I will be surrounded by natural beauty and that will do for me, I love it.”

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Lewis Stewart, Big Issue South West team leader, says: “Garry’s always up for a challenge but this time he’s really outdoing himself. His commitment to helping other homeless people through his fundraising walks is inspiring and we all wish him the very best of luck for his trek.”

You can track how Garry is getting on here and sponsor him here.

Garry’s story is featured in this week’s Big Issue Out and About Special alongside Arsenal legend Tony Adams’ poignant Letter To My Younger Self, our summer books guide and much, much more. Available now from a vendor or The Big Issue Shop.

Images: Lewis Stewart