- Getting started walking
- Tips for walking with diabetes
- How often should I exercise?
- How many calories will I burn?
- Is walking a good workout?
- Warm up for walking
- Walking for health
- Pregnancy and walking
- Walking can help our overweight youngsters
- Walking helps in fight against obesity
- Avoid travel chaos: walk to work!
- Diet Coke nutrition info
- 10 reasons to take up walking
- Walking facts
- Finding motivation
- How a good walk can help with stress
- A cliff with a view: New Quay walk
- St Nicholas, Vale of Glamorgan
- Bawsey Church near King's Lynn, Norfolk
- Walking Facts and Figures
- Rambling: how to get started
- Footpath Erosion
- Advice and Information for Leaders of Rambles
- An Introduction to the Hadrian's Wall Path
- An Introduction to the Pennine Way
- An Introduction to the Coast to Coast Walk
- An Introduction to the Cotswold Way
- Public Rights of Way FAQ
- A Guide to Walking in Britain
- More Than a Walk
An Introduction to the Pennine Way
The Pennine Way is among the best-known long-distance footpath in the country. It stretches for roughly 256 miles (412 km) from the Peak District to the Scottish borders, and maintains a high and often wild course along the backbone of England. The route attracts thousands of walkers every year, and yet many do not get beyond the second day, since it calls not only for fitness and stamina but for careful planning and preparation. The Pennine Way is a serious challenge - you must be fully equipped to meet it.
About the Pennine Way
The Pennine Way was the first official long distance footpath to be created in Britain. It was opened in 1965 after a 30-year campaign by Tom Stephenson, walkers' champion and for many years Secretary of the Ramblers' Association. The route traverses a wide variety of terrain, from the gritstone moorlands of Derbyshire to the springy limestone turf of the Yorkshire Dales. Natural features include thundering waterfalls, huge limestone cliffs and large areas of blanket bogland. However, the popularity of the Pennine Way - and the fact that many people tackle certain sections as one-day walks or part of a circular walk - has led to problems. Some places become overcrowded at peak times, and serious erosion has occurred (especially on the slopes of Kinder Scout and Pen-y-Ghent). In such areas make sure you follow the waymarked route, avoid making short cuts (which often causes more erosion), and keep off reseeded patches. For information on how you can help protect the Way, and general details concerning the route, contact the Pennine Way Association (address below).
Walking the Pennine Way: the route, the challenge
The route is traditionally walked from south to north, from Edale to Kirk Yetholm, and most guidebooks describe it this way. Although the route is officially 256 miles in length, you will probably walk a little further in total (there are several small sections where diversions and alternative routes exist). Most people take two to three weeks to complete the walk; the official guide estimates 19 days as a reasonable figure. But of course you can take as long as you want, and some people prefer to walk the route in leisurely weekend sections over many months.
The Way is only intermittently waymarked with signposts and cairns, so you will need a guidebook and maps (with a compass to aid routefinding). Most Pennine Way veterans say that the toughest stages are the first and last: the notorious peat bogs of Kinder Scout, Bleaklow and Black Hill, and the bare and boggy final stretch through the Cheviot Hills to Kirk Yetholm. In between, there is firmer walking through the dramatic limestone country around Malham, followed by long, hard slogs up Fountains Fell, Pen-y-Ghent and Cross Fell. Here it is airy, expansive and invigorating walking. The trail passes through small market towns and remote Pennine villages, as well as beautiful valleys such as Swaledale and Wensleydale. The high point is Cross Fell at 2,930ft (893m). Approaching Scotland the Pennine Way follows Hadrian's Wall.
Although the Way is high-level and often remote, there are 18 YHA hostels within reach of the path. In addition, B&Bs and farmhouses offer overnight accommodation; but the choice is limited, so be prepared to book ahead, especially in peak holiday periods. Alternatively, you might consider camping, but the extra gear can be prohibitively heavy for such a strenuous walk. Walkers should consult the invaluable Accommodation and Camping Guide (produced by the Pennine Way Association), available for 90p (add 70p p+p) from RA central office, or direct from the guide's Editor, John Needham, 23 Woodland Crescent, Hilton Park, Prestwich, Manchester M25 8WQ. Also, see The Rambler's Yearbook and Accommodation Guide for other B&B addresses (free for RA members or £4.99 plus £1.00 p+p from RA central office). Alternatively, the YHA-organised Pennine Way Bureau offers a youth hostels booking service, and the YHA also run several camping barns - details from the address below. For other information, contact local Tourist Information Centres.
Unless you are an experienced long-distance walker you should not tackle the Pennine Way alone. Make sure you are fit by walking as much as possible beforehand, and it is important that your boots are broken in and you are used to a weighty rucksack. Be prepared for the rigours of hillwalking: warm and wet-weather clothing is a necessity, as well as sufficient food and drink, a first aid kit, etc. For more details, see the various guidebooks, or RA Fact Sheet 2 (Maps and Navigation), and RA Fact Sheet 3 (Equipment and Safety). In addition, there is a useful free booklet, Mountain safety and the Pennine Way, available from the Peak National Park Information Office, Baslow Road, Bakewell, Derbys DE45 1AE.
Guidebooks and maps
The two National Trail Guides listed below comprise the official Countryside Commission guide to the Pennine Way and are the best available. However, readers of the Pennine Way South guide should note that, contrary to the impression that you may gain from the guide, there is still an officially-designated alternative route over Kinder Scout via Grindsbrook. Whatever the merits of encouraging walkers to use the route to the west of the Kinder Plateau, the RA believes that, if the Countryside Commission wishes to 'de-designate' any part of the Pennine Way, they should do so only by using the appropriate statutory procedures (which they have not done).
s National Trail Guide: Pennine Way South (Edale to Bowes) and National Trail Guide: Pennine Way North (Bowes to Kirk Yetholm), both by Tony Hopkins (Aurum Press, £9.99 each - available plus postage from RA central office).
s Pennine Way Companion by A Wainwright (Michael Joseph, £9.99).
The National Trail Guides include reproductions of OS map sections at a scale of 1:25,000. But if you have to make a detour (or just to be safe in the wilder parts) the following maps cover the route:
s Landranger (1:50 000): 74, 75, 80, 86, 87, 91, 92, 98, 103, 109, 110
s Outdoor Leisure (1:25 000): 1, 2, 10, 16, 19, 21, 30, 31, 42, 43
s Explorer (1:25 000): 1
These maps are available from official OS stockists (details from OS Information, tel: 01703 792792). They cannot be purchased from the RA.
The Pennine Way Association: Chris Sainty (Hon Secretary), 29 Springfield Park Avenue, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 6EL. Membership is £2.50 (£3.50 overseas). For details of the Pennine Way Booking Bureau contact YHA Northern Region, PO Box 11, Matlock, Derbyshire DE4 2XA (enclose large SAE), or tel: 01426 939215 (24 hours).