Karen Penny is an inspirational woman walking 20,000 km around the whole of the UK and Ireland raising money for the Alzheimer’s Research UK charity. When she finishes she’ll be the first woman to ever achieve this (no woman has walked all the islands as well), and there is no doubt in our mind that Karen will finish. You have to be made of strong stuff to walk the coastal paths whilst carrying your ‘home’ on your back!
Barry and I were delighted to meet and host her this week as she passed through Beer. She has, as you can probably imagine, some amazing stories of her journey so far, from meeting a prince and princess to sleeping in a polytunnel one night. She’s also slept in a garage but we were very happy to have her stay with us rather than braving the elements.
Karen lives in South Wales and set off in January 2019 walking clockwise to Fishguard before nipping over to walk the whole of the coast of Ireland (as you do!). Returning to Fishguard she then restarted her trek north to Scotland reaching Shetland before coronavirus halted her progress. Back in Wales for lockdown she restarted her walk anti-clockwise on the 10th August this year and reached Beer last Thursday.
What we can’t quite believe is her stamina – she walks everyday. With the steep ascents of North Devon, Cornwall and South Devon, we know this is no mean feat, as we’re three years into walking the South West Coast Path ourselves. One day she even walked 25 miles. We were glad we only did Salcombe Regis to Beer with her which was a mere ten miles but our calves still ached the next day. As Karen told us, her legs are rock hard!
Her motivation comes from losing loved ones to this disease. Incredibly, despite the fact that dementia affects so many people, the charity receives hardly any government funding. Funds are also lower this year as so many fund raising events have had to be cancelled due to Covid. We lost Barry’s mum to vascular dementia so this is a charity very close to our hearts.
Karen has a fantastic Facebook page where you can follow her journey –
The nights are getting colder now so even if people aren’t able to donate, if you live on the coast, do let her stay or camp in your garden if you can. She’ll really appreciate a hot meal or even just a hot cup of tea!
Her fundraising target is £100,000, and at the time of writing this she’s raised a whopping £68,951. If you’re reading this and are able to help do follow the link below.
Karen, we are in awe of you – just keep on walking………