Woman foregoes seeing her family for four years as she aims to be first woman to walk around coast of UK and Ireland

IT IS a feat never achieved by a woman.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 4:33 pm

But Karen Penny is not one to take the easy option. The 55-year-old mum is embarking upon the ‘adventure of a lifetime’ as she undergoes a continuous walk circumnavigating the 20,000km of the British and Irish coastline.

Karen, who set off from her home in Wales on January 14, 2019, is taking on the gruelling walk to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer's Research UK after losing two family members to the disease.

Since she started her journey Karen has clocked up over 8,000 miles, despite having to return home during lockdowns, raising nearly £80,000.

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Karen Penny will be taking in Gosport and Portsmouth as part of her round the country coastal walk

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During her travels she has met mayors, stayed with the Queen’s horseman, slept in abandoned castles and gone through nine pairs of shoes.

And, apart from returning home for lockdowns, she has not seen her husband, son and other family and friends as she continues to walk the coast of Britain and Ireland

So far she has navigated around Ireland, Wales, Scotland and the Isle of Wight, as well as the west coast of England.

Round-the-UK walker Karen Penny reaches Portsmouth. Pic: Alzheimer's Research UK

Now she is working her way across the south, with her due to arrive in her old stomping ground Portsmouth on Friday.

‘I love Portsmouth, I went to university there many years ago,’ she said. ‘I studied geography there, which has come in useful.

‘I’m looking forward to arriving in Gosport before going to Southsea and then Emsworth via Hayling Island.

‘Whilst doing the walks you realise how kind people are especially as it’s been during the pandemic.

‘People offer me a place to stay in their gardens, join up with me for a few miles, stop and say “hello” and offer me drinks. It really makes a difference and helps to motivate me.’

Speaking of her determination to help the charity, Karen said: ‘Many people have preconceptions about dementia, and often, it is only when someone is personally affected that they begin to find out about it.

‘Dementia has had a profound impact upon our family. During the last 10 years we have lost two very dear family members.

‘In 2017, Alzheimer’s and other dementias became the leading cause of death in the UK. With no treatments to stop or cure them, these are diseases that no one has yet survived.

‘Alzheimer’s Research UK is committed to changing that and, with their supporters, they are here to make breakthroughs possible.

‘You look at what can be achieved with funding for vaccines on Covid.’

Karen, who has retired from her legal career, admits she is probably ‘mad’ for undertaking such a challenge, especially with her not due to see her family until April next year.

But she believes there is no better time to do it. ‘It’s a good time in my life to do it,’ she said. ‘I really enjoy it. I’ve been married for years to my husband and we moved to a house that needed a lot of renovation so I would just be getting in the way anyway.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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