Karen Penny’s UK Circumwalk On Pause

It isn’t surprising by now that most of the journeys we’ve been covering or planning to cover have been put on hold. One of those whose plans have been scuppered by the COVID-19 crisis is 53-year-old Karen Penny.

Last year, Penny began an attempt to circumwalk Britain and Ireland (30,000km) in four years. In the last 13 months, she has walked a total of 10,310km, completing the whole coasts of Ireland, North West England, Scotland, Wales and 30 islands. She carried a 17kg pack with her sleeping bag, tent, food, clothes and GPS, walking 25 to 30km a day and averaging close to 800km a month.

But if the distance hasn’t phased her, the increasing restrictions on travel and the pressure to be close to home has. Last week, she wrote, “With a very heavy heart and on a cold and blustery day here in Shetland, I have had to make the very difficult decision to break off from my walk and return home to South Wales.”

Karen Penny in Shetland. Photo: Karen Penny

At the end of February, Penny reached Aberdeen and continued on to the Shetland Islands. Here, she decided to put her mammoth trek on hold indefinitely.

When the world returns to some form of normalcy, she will return to Shetland, walk to Britain’s northernmost point and make her way back down the remainder of Britain. As of now, she is on her way home to her family in Swansea.

Old Man of Hoy. Photo: Karen Penny