The group of six walked from High Street in Leighton Buzzard, through to Aspley Guise and back, a trek of 30 miles, to raise cash for a charity which uses animals to sniff out landmines.
Matt Carroll, Chris Harrison, Richard Watts and Dave Shaw have all been friends since meeting at the Cedars school. Dan Flynn and Adam Mould have since joined the group and since lockdown two years ago the keen walkers have been eager to get further afield.
"I have been walking a lot, about 50/60kms a week”, said Matt, aged 38. “It’s a good way of easing ourselves into it and hopefully this will be the first of several longer walks.”
They set off from the High Street in Leighton Buzzard on April 7, and walked through Rushmere and Aspley Guise before heading back, a walk which took around seven-and-a-half hours.
They have already beaten their target of £200, raising £443 so far.
Matt kept pet rats as a child and was intrigued to learn African giant pouched rats, along with dogs, are used by the charity APOPO to help detect both landmines, and diseases in humans, such as tuberculosis.
The charity works mainly in Cambodia, but Matt said there was a likelihood the unique skills of the animals could be used in Ukraine when the war there is finally over.
The scent detection animals, nicknamed 'HeroRATs' and 'HeroDOGs', help to rid the world of landmines and tuberculosis – returning safe land back to communities for development, and freeing people from serious illness so they can get back on their feet.
The charity is also training a group of the rats to protect the pangolin, now the most trafficked animal globally, from going extinct. They help to sniff out the pangolin scales from shipping containers, hopefully making them harder to traffic.
Matt said: “It was a great day, the weather was dry, sunny and windy. We all made it home tired and with sore feet, but feeling pleased we'd done it.”
To find out more about the charity and donate to the walkers go to http://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/matthew-carroll12