The Pennine Way is a beautiful thing
In summer, autumn, winter, spring.
As the clouds dance across the Pennine sky
And the wild birds wheel past the walker’s eye.
Ian McMillan, Yorkshire Poet
Probably England’s (a tiny bit is in Scotland) best known and certainly toughest trails, it stretches up the backbone of England as the Pennines are known, the length of the trail stated in the official guide book at 256 miles (412kms) (or 268 miles according to other sources), but most walkers do more than this by diverting to overnight accommodation. The end points are Edale in the south and Kirk Yetholm which is just a mile across the border in Scotland. Edale is situated in northern Derbyshire within the Peak District and the path also takes in the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland National Park.
The bulk of the Pennine Way is on public footpaths and although there are some bridleways, travellers on horseback or bicycle are better using the Pennine Bridleway which runs from Derbyshire to Cumbria.
The Pennine Way passes through pretty villages such as Crowden, Malham, Haworth, (home of the Bronte sisters) Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Keld, Gayle, Byreness and Bellingham but in truth it is the sheer bleakness and natural beauty that draws walkers in their thousands every year. Landmarks such as Jacobs Ladder, Malham Tarn, the limestone pavement above Malham Cove, and of course Hadrians Wall. Kinder Scout, Stoodley Pike, Top Withins, Malham Cove, Pen-y-ghent, Tan Hill, High Force, Cauldron Snout, High Cup Nick, Cross Fell, Hadrian’s Wall and The Cheviot.
The route passes Englands highest waterfall – High Fall in County Durham, The Tan Hill Inn at Baldersdale which claims to be the highest pub in Britain, Top Withens, a ruined farmhouse which is said to have been the inspiration for the Earnshaw family house in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and one of the most famous parts, the limestone pavement above Malham Cove – its fame in part in thanks to featuring in the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
There are places to stay along the route including 4 bothies (at Top Withens, Cross Fell, Lamb Hill and to the south of the Schil), youth hostels, pubs, camp sites and B&B but if you’re walking for a series of days you are recommended to book your accommodation in advance.
Due to the isolated terrain the weather can change very quickly so be prepared, check you have the correct equipment, Brush up your navigation skills, carry the appropriate large-scale maps and know how to use them. We recommend the Harvey National Trail Series of maps which have been designed for walkers.
There are 3 sheets covering the route:
There are also the Ordnance Survey Explorer Maps which are at a larger scale (1:25,000), cost less at £8.99 and you get a FREE download of the map for your phone. BUT, because the scale is larger, you need more maps!
For those who prefer horseback or cycling then consider the Pennine Way Bridleway and Harvey’s have a map for this as well. The Pennine Bridleway offers horse riders, cyclists and walkers the opportunity to explore 205 miles of the Pennines’ ancient packhorse routes, drovers roads and newly created bridleways. It runs roughly parallel with the Pennine Way is just over 200 miles long from Derbyshire to Cumbria.
Around 12,000 long-distance walkers and 250,000 day-walkers a year are walking along the Pennine Way, most walk north to south due to the prevailing weather normally being on their backs plus guide books tend to be written this way (maybe for that very reason?!)
The Pennine Way forms part of the European long distance path called the E2, The Rambler’s Association website has more details on this.
For the latest weather conditions and other news visit the Pennine Way website