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A woman walking 20,000 miles around the coastline of Britain and Ireland to raise funds and awareness for Alzheimer’s Research UK said she was ‘delighted’ to cross the 4,000-mile mark at the Mull of Kintyre.
Karen Penny, who is into her fifth set of boots, the latest pair donated by Arran Active, set off on the four-year journey on January 14 and has walked every day since. Not content with a task as challenging as it already is, Karen is also walking around many of the islands off the coastline.
So far she has completed the coast of Ireland, Wales and North West England, carrying 26 pounds of equipment, and is also onto her second rucksack.
Karen, who arrived in Kintyre from Arran last Thursday, said: ‘I have loved Kintyre. I immediately noticed the quietness and remoteness of the area. My highlights have been walking through the nature reserve at Largiebaan, the beach at Machrihanish and the Mull of Kintyre.’
The weather has been as Karen expected: ‘A heatwave one minute and pouring down the next – I have managed to burn my nose over the last few days!’
One thing she has struggled with since arriving in Scotland is poor mobile phone signal.
She said: ‘Some may say that it must be a lovely to have complete peace and quiet, without the phone, but this is a charity walk raising money and awareness for Alzheimer’s Research UK and with a following of over 5,500 people on social media, it is essential that I keep up-to-date with offers of help, encouragement and support. People love to see where I have been and the people I have met.’
Although she carries a tent and can sleep almost anywhere – from barns and bird hides to castles and woods – Karen welcomes offers of accommodation.
‘People are exceptionally kind and if they know I am coming, they always help out by offering a safe spot to rest my head,’ she said. ‘In Carradale Robert Strang arranged for me to stay at the fire station which was such a wonderfully unique experience, and I stayed with Mhairi Reid in Campbeltown and Moyra Paterson in Dalbuie.
‘All of them, without exception, supported me on my journey, and without help it would be so much harder. I know as it gets more remote in Scotland I will be relying on my tent.’
On Tuesday night Karen stayed at Point Sands Holiday Park near Tayinloan before taking the ferry across the Gigha on Wednesday.
‘After Gigha, I will head to Islay and Jura and will reach the Outer Hebrides by the end of October,’ she said. ‘After the islands I return to Wemyss Bay where I rejoin the coastline of the mainland.’
She anticipates covering the Scottish Highlands and Islands over the next 12 to 18 months, hoping to walk at least 20 of the Scottish islands.
Karen embarked on the solo expedition, during which she hopes to raise £100,000, following the death of her mother-in-law and father-in-law, who both suffered with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
‘It is a very cruel disease and there is no current cure, but with research there will be a breakthrough,’ she said. ‘I have so far raised £42,500 in just eight months which shows how people feel about supporting Alzheimer’s research.’
Keep up-to-date with Karen’s progress by joining Facebook group ‘Karen Penny The Penny Rolls On Walking Britain and Ireland’ or donate by visiting www.justgiving.com/thepennyrollson