Walk of pain: Woman with arthritis plans 150 mile Jubilee coast trek

Sarah Dennis Heel to Heal walk Hunstanton to Felixstowe

Sarah Dennis was diagnosed with arthritis in her 30s prompting her to change career and become a yoga teacher - a profession that allows her to help herself and others. - Credit: Sarah Dennis

As a super fit marathon runner in her 30s Sarah Dennis was not expecting to be diagnosed with arthritis.

"I could not make much sense of it." she said.

"When you live with chronic illness it robs you of the person you are."

Sarah Dennis Heel to Heal walk Hunstanton to Felixstowe

Sarah Dennis will be passing through her home village of Hemsby on her 150 mile coastal walk. The 48-year-old suffers from two types of arthritis and says she has a special connection to the coastal landscape and that walking there helps her condition. - Credit: Sarah Dennis

However, spurred on by the need to stay true to her spirit she gave up a career in marketing to focus on yoga, and defy a grim prognosis that she may not walk in ten years if she didn't manage the condition carefully.

Now the 48-year-old, who hails from Hemsby and has two types of arthritis, is taking on the challenge of walking from Hunstanton to Felixstowe in around three weeks.

She barely has the use of her hands and struggles to open a water bottle or to stuff a sleeping bag into its holder and will be relying on the kindness of strangers as she makes her way round the coast.

She will head off from Hunstanton on Monday May 30, taking in Jubilee week and hoping to channel some of the energy of the celebrations.

Sarah Dennis Heel to Heal walk Hunstanton to Felixstowe

Sarah Dennis wearing her Heel to Heal campaign t-shirt and carrying all her kit. She hopes people will give her a wave, connect with her online, and even join her for a stretch. - Credit: Sarah Dennis

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Going solo means carrying all her kit, some 18 kilos, including all her food as she suffers from a range of allergies.

"My bag looks massive because I cannot compress anything," she said.

"I have had to adapt my kit because I am used to having people around me."

Sarah Dennis Heel to Heal walk Hunstanton to Felixstowe

Sarah Dennis is passionate about the healing benefits of being in the landscape where she grew up around the Norfolk coast and Hemsby. Walking the shores for 150 miles will test her endurance and raise awareness of arthritis and Sunbeams in Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Sarah Dennis

Wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with her Heel to Heal campaign logo she hopes people will join her for stretches and share their stories - as well as filling up her water bottle.

"I lost a bit of myself during Covid," she said.

"I was used to teaching around 15 classes a week. I need to prove to myself I can take on a challenge."

Throughout the walk Mrs Dennis, who is married to James, will leave "positivity pebbles" for people to find and share on social media.

As well as a personal challenge she wants to raise awareness of arthritis as not just a bone disease but something that brings a range of symptoms including inflamed tendons, brain fog, and exhaustion.

Sarah Dennis Heel to Heal walk Hunstanton to Felixstowe

Sarah Dennis has two types of arthritis but does not let it defeat her and says yoga and coastal walks are helpful. - Credit: Sarah Dennis

She is also looking to raise around £1,500 for Sunbeams, a social centre for children and young adults with autism set up by her mother Monica Bates.

Follow her on Facebook via Heel to Heal: Walking Back to Health and Instagram @heeltoheal.