Walker Karen Penny in front of a Wightlink ferry inYarmouth

Round the UK and Ireland trek reaches the Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight residents are being invited to support a unique round the UK and Ireland walk that is raising money for research into Alzheimer’s disease.

Intrepid Karen Penny is nearly a quarter of the way through her quest to become the first woman to undertake a continuous walk around the entire 20,000-kilometre circumference of the British and Irish coastlines.

She stepped off the Wightlink ferry at Yarmouth yesterday (Friday) to begin the Island leg of her trek which has already raised over £70,000 for the Alzheimer’s Research charity and is expected to take three and a half years to complete. Her fundraising goal is £100,000 and she is hoping support from Islanders will push her on towards that target.

With her trusty backpack nicknamed ‘Neville’, her Isle of Wight route will take her from Yarmouth to Jersey Camp (Sat Oct 31), then on to Wootton (Sunday Nov 1), Bembridge (Monday Nov 2), Ventnor (Tuesday Nov 3), Chale (Wednesday Nov 4) and Freshwater Bay (Thursday Nov 5). Karen will then head back to Yarmouth on Friday November 6 where she will again travel with Wightlink to Lymington to re-join the mainland leg of her adventure and continue her travels anti-clockwise around the UK coast. Walking around seven to eight hours a day, Karen has already worked her way through eight pairs of boots but has survived her journey so far, remarkably, without even one blister!

Karen was inspired to undertake the challenge after dementia had a profound impact on her family with both her mother-in-law Alma and father-in-law Kingsley succumbing to vascular dementia. The trek is both a legacy to them and a chance to assist others in the future by fundraising towards the cost of research.

Now retired after a career in the legal profession Karen, whose latest fundraising journey began near her home in Gower in January 2019, says she was excited about her Island leg.

Karen says: “I’ve met some amazing people and been to some incredible places on my journey so far and in the last three months there’s not been a day when I’ve walked on my own, so I’m hoping that I’ll have plenty of people on the Island who want to join me on this part of my journey and who will help me to reach my fundraising target.

“I spent time on the Island as a Girl Guide and have many happy memories of coming over on the boat for our summer camp, so I’m looking forward to reliving some of those memories as well as learning about some of the new places I encounter along the way.”

Wightlink Chief Executive Keith Greenfield says: “As Wightlink fully supports the Dementia Friendly Isle of Wight project, we were naturally thrilled to support Karen by giving her free travel to and from the Island.

“I know that she will receive a very warm welcome from everyone she meets on her Island leg and am sure people will also rally to her fundraising cause as well. We wish Karen all the best on her remarkable journey and look forward to hearing about her Island travels when we take her back to the mainland next week.”

David Howarth, Area Chair of the Isle of Wight Ramblers was there to meet Karen off the ferry and he and his fellow ramblers are supporting Karen as she walks around the Island. David says: “We’re delighted to be able to play even a small part in helping Karen and she undertakes this incredible feat and for such a deserving cause. We look forward to hearing more of her stories as we join her on her travels around the Island.”

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 with supporters such as Karen, is committed to changing that.


Notes to editors:
1. Photo of Karen Penny at Wightlink ferry port, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight.