Pennine Way

 

All my videos of the Pennine Way can be found in my long distance walks playlist.

Thanks

With thanks to Crisis UK, Cotswold Outdoor, Gossamer Gear, my supporters and my accommodation providers for all their support.

Introduction

The Pennine Way national trail is about 270 miles (430km) long and traditionally runs from the Nag’s Head at Edale in the Peak District to the Border Hotel at Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders.

I couldn’t resist the challenge of the Pennine Way as a walk to raise funds for Crisis UK. Opened in 1965, the Way runs along the Pennine hills, sometimes described as the “spine of England”. According to the Ramblers Association it is “one of Britain’s best known and toughest paths”.

Nags Head, Edale
The Nag’s Head pub in Edale which is the official start of the walk.

The walk crosses three National Parks; the Peak District, The Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland, one area of outstanding natural beauty in the North Pennines and one World Heritage Site at Hadrian’s Wall. The route initially crosses the gritstone moorlands of the Kinder Plateau, the Bronte country and the Yorkshire Dales National Park via Malham, Pen-y-ghent, Great Shunner Fell and Keld. It then descends from the high fells to the River Tees before following the South Tyne northwards to the Northumberland National Park. Hadrian’s Wall is followed for about 12 miles before the route turns north across the Kielder Forest to Redesdale and the Cheviot Hills. Here the route follows the border fence over the border ridge before gradually descending to join the St Cuthbert’s Way into Kirk Yetholm.

Because of the size of my original Pennine Way post, I have divided it into two posts as follows:

I hope this will make it more manageable. The original single page comments can still be found at the bottom of this page.

Planning

As a relative newcomer to camping when I did the walk, I opted for small campsites for this walk, partly for the facilities and partly for the support. The quotes I had for baggage transport were prohibitive so I did a lot of research on finding lightweight kit to enable me to complete the walk unsupported. These are my kit list and data sheet for the walk. For some suggestions on ways to lighten your pack weight please read my page about pack weight.

image
Edale, Peak District

The remainder of the walk was spent in a magnificent array of campsites, youth hostels, bunkhouses, barns and one or two B&Bs. My final daily distances were as follows:

  1. Edale – Crowden                            18 miles / 29km
  2. Crowden – Standedge                   12.5 miles / 20km
  3. Standedge – Hebden Bridge        17 miles / 27.5km
  4. Hebden Bridge – Haworth           11 miles / 18km
  5. Haworth – Malham                       18 miles / 29km
  6. Malham – Horton in R                 15 miles / 24km
  7. Horton in R – Hawes                    15 miles / 24km
  8. Hawes – Keld                                  13 miles / 21km
  9. Keld – Clove Lodge                        17 miles / 27.5km
  10. Clove Lodge – Middleton in T     6 miles / 9.5km
  11. Middleton in T – Langdon Beck 8.5 miles / 14km
  12. Langdon Beck – Dufton               13.5 miles / 22km
  13. Dufton – Garrigill                          15 miles / 24km
  14. Garrigill – Knarsdale                    10 miles / 17km
  15. Knarsdale – Greenhead                10 miles / 17km
  16. Greenhead – Once Brewed          8 miles / 13km
  17. Once Brewed – Bellingham         15 miles / 24km
  18. Bellingham – Byrness                   16 miles / 26km
  19. Byrness – Windy Gyle                  14 + 2 miles to pick up / 22.5 + 3km
  20. Windy Gyle – Kirk Yetholm        2 + 14 miles from drop off /3 +22.5km

This worked out at an average of about 15 miles per day including walks off trail to accommodation. Originally I had planned to do the walk in 18 days but I realised that a couple of those days were over ambitious in the heat. As I have never aimed at breaking speed records as a walker, re-planning these days mean’t that I was able to enjoy some of the spectacular scenery in this part of the walk more.

PW

Stats

The LDWA give the following stats for the Pennine Way:

410.6 km (255.1 miles)
11,345 m (37,215 ft) ascent
893 m (2,920 ft)  maximum height

Wikipedia offered the following trivia about the walk in 2013:

A survey by the National Trails Agency reported that a walker covering the entire length of the trail is obliged to navigate 287 gates, 249 timber stiles, 183 stone stiles and 204 bridges aided by 458 waymarks. 198 miles (319 km) of the route is on public footpaths, 70 miles (112 km) on public bridleways and 20 miles (32 km) on other public highways. 

Border Hotel
Border Hotel, Kirk Yetholm

Afterthoughts.

Because of it’s proximity to major cities, the start of route in the the Peak District National Park suffers from problems with erosion and acid rain, For the first three days you are never far from evidence of the nearby cities such as reservoirs, pylons, masts and drainage channels, and the sound of planes from nearby Manchester airport. This may be a disappointment for those expecting a “wilderness walk”. However this imperceptibly  changes as the walk heads north and enters the Yorkshire Dales, becoming pretty wild through the North Pennines and the Cheviots.

Flagstones have now been laid along most of the boggy areas of the route. As well as protecting the ground, they speed up the walker, protecting them from the bogs and aiding navigation. There is plenty of low cost accommodation close to the route and most of the accommodation providers were very kind and helpful. Unfortunately I had problems getting much phone or data coverage for the walk with my network at that time.

pennine way pics
Some Pennine Way Pics

Finally, it is a tough walk which needs preparation and stamina to complete, having a total of 11,350m of ascent. I have done four distance walks but the Pennine Way stretched my boundaries, involving some scrambling and a lot of hill climbing. For reference I used the Paddy Dillon Cicerone guide, the three Harvey strip maps for the walk and the LDWA GPX download of the route for my phone.

 

In memory of Percy🌹

30 thoughts on “Pennine Way

  1. Hey Rose

    Great account – I’m giving part of the Pennine Way a shot in mid-May. I’ll start in Gargrave and see how far north I can get in 12 days (time limits me sadly). I’m travelling very light – my base no food/water rucksack weight should be under 10 pounds including the tent, sleep system, clothes and all else (new technology is amazing – I’m sure my first tent weighed 10 pounds by itself). I’d obviously like to carry as little supplies as possible without undue risk. Are there any sections were you think its risky to go low on food/water etc? I’ll have a filter for natural water and will always carry snacks. I plan to hit the pub/anything most evenings to get my dinner (and lunch if I come across one) but would be interested to know where you think its remote and difficult to get food/supplies for the morning/day and evening dinner so I’ll carry more supplies on those parts.

    Much appreciated – thanks

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    1. Hi Alex and thanks for posting. I didn’t take a water filter on that occasion but just carried about 2/3L per day to drink and filled up from taps as and when. This meant that I wasn’t keeping an eye out for fresh water sources the way I do now. A lot of the PW is on high ground along the watershed of the Pennines so you would need to dip down in places to reach a water supply to filter in dry weather. I walked during high summer so a lot of small streams and puddles were dry at that time. As you know the British climate is fickle so May can be a very wet or very dry month. I did find that I needed my food though to keep my energy levels up so I wouldn’t skimp on that. I asked pubs and hostels to make packed lunches for me so I didn’t need to stop during the day but there are sometimes shops to buy things from. The most remote stretches I can recall were the North Pennines, Northumberland after you come off Hadrian’s Wall and the border stretch at the end where you don’t want to run out of anything really. If you have a look at my data sheet I have mentioned the places where I ate / stayed and what facilities I used along the way, but the Harvey strip maps were fairly accurate about facilities like shops and pubs. Another person to ask about this would be PilgrimChris who wild camped along some of the route. However much you cover of the route in the time available, I hope you enjoy the walk and that this answers some of your questions. Rose

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  2. Dear Rose, my name is Guy and I’m from The Netherlands. It’s with great interest that I’ve read your account of the Pennine Way. Especially because I’m planning to do this trail this year. I’m aiming to complete it in about twenty days, so I’m very interested indeed in the places where you have stayed. My intention is to camp, but go for a bit of convenience, i.e. b&b, every now and then too. Would you happen to have aan overview of the actual places where you spent the night? If so, could you share it with me? Thanks beforehand for your reply!

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    1. Hello Guy 🙂 Because it is an old, well established trail, the Pennine Way has plenty of budget accommodation including hostels, bunkhouses and campsites. As I say in my blog, my walk was mainly a combination of hostels, camping and a few B&Bs. It might be worth joining the Youth Hostel Association if you are not already a member of Hostelling International, as you can get a discount on the many YHA hostels on the route. As far as I know some of them will let people camp on their grounds and use their facilities, but I would check with them first. If you use the contact form to send me your email address I can try and put together a list of the places I stayed during my trip. National Trails UK may also have an up to date accommodation list for the Pennine Way which they can send you as well. Personally I sat with the map at about this time of year and did a lot of internet searching followed by a lot of emailing and phoning to book things in advance but that can be tricky if your schedule doesn’t run to plan as mine didn’t. Have a great hike. Rose

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      1. Hi again Guy. Hope you got my email. After giving it some thought I have added links to my data sheets for each of my long distance walks to each blog post. They can now be viewed or downloaded via the link, although they come with a warning that some information may be out of date. I hope this is helpful to anyone planning to do the walks themselves. Rose.

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      1. The WAW is primarily a driving route, though I think some people have cycled it. Wouldn’t be be much fun for a hiker as a lot is on busy, main roads but there are some lovely walks just off it. Irishtrails.ie is good for ideas.

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  3. A late read Rose but saw a post on Google Plus. Reading I am reminded of the trail magic that is along the way. A journey is made all the more pleasant by the generosity of the people you meet. The challenges of navigation are always a pleasure I find and it seems you did well overall. The ruggedness of the Tees River section sounded a real treat…love that type of terrain. Ohh heck I love it all. Any way, all the very best. Mark from the Wye Explorer.

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  4. Hello Larry and thanks for posting. I used a Jetboil stove and got through 2 propane gas canisters which I bought in advance. Gas canisters are usually quite easy to come by in this country as is meths. Several suggestions: The National Park Visitor Centre in Edale might sell fuel as they have a campsite. Similarly the Caravan and Camping Club campsite at Crowden have a well stocked shop which is also likely to sell fuel. If you didn’t want to take any chances I would buy it at one of the big outdoor stores in Manchester like Go Outdoors or Cotswold Outdoors.

    The one thing I really wish I had taken was trekking poles so if you are used to them I would recommend them to take some of the strain. I just used an app on my iphone rather than a GPS device and downloaded a reliable GPS file for the route from a site called the Long Distance Walkers Association (£12 per year to join). I wouldn’t buy a GPS device specially unless you know you will make good use of it back home, but like the poles, if you have one then I would take it.

    I genuinely hope that the hikers and country people are friendly to you along the way. American people have such a great reputation for being friendly to hikers so I hope Britain can compare with that. I did the hike on my own but you will have each other for company which will help as parts of the route are quite remote. As for politics and football I don’t talk about either really and know next to nothing about football so I wouldn’t worry. The people I met talked about the route and about hiking mostly (what else!) so anyone could join in with the chat.

    I wish you both a great hike and a friendly reception. Just shout if there’s anything else I can help with. Rose 🙂

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  5. Love your page. I have a couple of questions about a Pennine Way trek my father-in-law are planning for June of 2016. We’re 58 and 78 respectfully and are planning a combination of camping, YHA, and maybe a B&B or two. We are coming from the US, flying into Manchester and traveling by train to Edale. Right now we are thinking of flying home from Edinburgh, Scotland.

    Will we be able to get camping stove fuel in Edale or Crowden? You are not allowed to fly with stove fuel and will need to purchase it on the trail. If we are able to get fuel on the trail what is the most common fuel that is available so I can purchase a stove that is compatible with the available fuel.

    Would you recommend the use of walking sticks and a GPS device along with the ability to use a map and compass?

    Hikers are great people all over the world so should we be expecting a friendly reception in the small villages on the trail being from the US? We don’t talk politics and know nothing about English football.

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      1. Hello, There are 2 ways to travel to the airport I think. 1/ Take a bus to Kelso then another bus to Galashiels where you catch a train to Edinburgh Waverley. From there you can get a tram, bus or taxi to the airport. 2/ Take a bus to Kelso and then another bus to Berwick where you catch a northbound train to Edinburgh Waverley and then also tram, bus or taxi to the airport. You could check which is quicker by contacting Visit Scotland. I hope this helps 🙂

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  6. What a great achievement Rose! I would love to do this walk but first have a go at the Dales Way in 2 weeks time. All your tips are much appreciated as they are the result from experiencing it the hard way! Beautiful pics too!

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  7. Thank you Rose for your amazing and informative journal of your trip. It will be VERY useful to me !!
    I am planning on doing the Pennine Way in June, from North to South. As a female hiking and camping alone did you feel safe?
    I have to begin my first night wild camping due to the big stretch between Kirk Yetholm and Byrness. I am a little dubious about this as I have never wild camped alone before.
    Karen

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    1. Hello Karen and thanks for your kind comments. Simon Armitage’s book Walking Home is a north – south hike and quite funny about some of the accommodation on the route. I felt very safe as a female hiker as many of the hikers I met were also solo hikers. The route mainly attracts serious hikers who tend to be a nice bunch happy to help each other out. On the stretch between Kirk Yetholm and Byrness there are two mountain huts near Lamb Hill and Cheviot where you could stay and where you might feel a bit safer if you didn’t want to wild camp? I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as the route is very varied. Best Wishes and let me know how you get on.

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  8. Hello Sharon and I’m very sorry that it has taken me so long to reply to your kind comment but I am still getting used to the site. It is a fantastic walk and I am glad I slowed myself down to appreciate the places along the way. Three weeks will be great I’m sure. Keep in touch and let me know how you get on. If I can be of any help do contact me. Rose

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  9. Hi Rose,
    Just wanted to say thank you for sharing this wonderful account of your Pennine Way adventure. I’m planning to do the same next July (I’m giving myself 3 weeks – at least!) and it’s been incredibly helpful for me to see your equipment list and read your comments. Like you, I definitely don’t think it’s about breaking speed limits, and I’m getting very excited about it now!

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  10. Thank you for your post David. Maybe it is the people who have done some or all of the walk who most appreciate how tough it is. I had some teary moments but it was well worth it and I don’t think it is all about breaking speed records

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  11. Just enjoyed reading the account of your Pennine Way epic adventure. There is so much more to a trail than what you read in the guide books — sharing your journal with us reminds me of similar day to day snags that I have encounter along this Trail. The Pennine Way is tough so your achievement is congratulated, and I hope the charity you have walked on behalf of very much benefits from the considerable physical and mental effort you have made.

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