The Pennine Way

The Pennine Way

Trip Highlights

  • One of the World’s Great Walks
  • Varied and at times remote walking through three national parks
  • Beautiful and interesting natural features: waterfalls, dales, rivers and fells
  • Hadrians Wall
  • Cross Fell summit and associated peaks
  • High Cup Nick, Low and High Force and Cauldron Snout
  • Remote and romantic places: The upper Tees valley, Top Withins and the Cheviots
  • Fascinating Villages and small towns such as Edale, Hebden Bridge, Hawes, Keld, Bellingham, Kirk Yetholm

Trip Summary

The challenging Pennine Way is an absolute classic in the annals of British walking. It has legendary status as the first official Long Distance Footpath to be created in Britain, back in 1965. This was after a long campaign started in 1935 by Tom Stephenson, secretary of The Ramblers Association. The roots of this campaign for a national trail was the mass trespass movement of the 1930s, where a lot of working class walkers from the industrial towns around the Pennines defied local landowners and walked across their land. Today although the South West Coastal Path is more than twice as long, The Pennine way will always be the 'big one;' a walk to test out the endurance and navigational abilities of walkers up to the challenge.

This walk passes through some of the loneliest and loveliest high walking terrain in England, and over such a length there is a tremendous variety from high peat bog, Heathlands, beautiful limestone scenery including cliffs, caves and rock pavements. There are also big peaks known as the High Fells of which Cross Fell is the highest point at nearly 3000 feet; although you can ascend higher if you have the optional detour up Cheviot. Then there are the attractive smaller hills of the Yorkshire Dales; deep green valleys such as Wensleydale and Swaledale, with beautiful rivers, often with historical and archaeological remains such as the traces of old lead mining or Hadrian’s wall. There are some tremendous natural features such as Malham Cove, Pen-y-gent, High and Low Force, Blea Force and Cauldron Snout waterfalls and smaller falls such as Kidson Force. There is the massive extinct volcano that is Cheviot and the surprise of stumbling across High Cup Nick - a large post glacial valley.There are interesting places such as The highest pub in England at Tan Hill and of course the chance to commune with nature over an extended period.

Suitability

Challenging. Not recommended for first time multiday walkers. Generally long days with some steep climbs and descents. There are long lonely sections where there may be few people about. Most days have little shelter from the weather so you must be prepared. Some sections have faint paths and in a few places waymarks are missing. Anyone used to hill walking/ mountain hiking with a daily height gain / loss of 3,300 feet (1000m) per day, walking up to 10 hours on occasion, should be able to cope with the walk. You must be comfortable climbing up over stiles, walking on steep rocky and boggy terrain. You must be reasonably proficient navigating with map and compass and able to problem solve. A head for heights is not generally an issue, but care is needed for example on some steep paths, walking by High Force and ascending near Cauldron Snout. Mixed weather can be expected.

Itinerary

Make your own way to the very pretty and yet small village of Edale sitting at the foot of the mountainous plateau called Kinder Scout that stands as the first challenge of the route.The valley developed in medieval times as a cattle farming area and later there was an active milling industry. Today the village is popular with walkers and day trippers. Only a tiny minority are here for the Pennine Way. There is a national park visitors's centre and a couple of nice pubs for a meal. Accommodation: Originally built in 1798, an original Barn conversion, lovingly made into a comfortable family run guesthouse. It is situated in the farming hamlet of Ollerbrook Booth, a few hundred metres from the centre of the village.

Meals:  Nil

The walk traditionally starts from a pub called 'The Nag's'Head', just across the road from this is a tiny section of wall with a gate and a plaque mentioning the start of the walk. The route today trundles through beautiful farming countryside, before a steep ascent, skirting the actual summit of Kinder Scout and reaching a top height of 633m. The routing is safer than it used to be and easier to follow in the sense that you are kept off the top of the peak and on a generally good path initially up over a steep paved mule trail called Jacobs Ladder and up towards Kinder Downfall, the main waterfall from the massif which often blows uphill when it is windy! The way then descends from Kinder and then avoiding bogs, along a long section of paved walkway from Mill Hill crossing the A57 road and up to very bleak Bleaklow Head before a long and in places steep descent via Torside Clough to Torside reservoir. Accommodation: Our cottage is all alone in countryside about 600 metres off the Pennine Way in the Longdendale Valley overlooking the Rhodeswood reservoir. Comfortable rooms and drying area. Evening meals normally have to be obtained from a pub a few miles away, and there is a small taxi service for a few pounds.

Meals:  B

A fairly straight forward undulating day across the moors passing several small to medium sized reservoirs.The walk strikes North steeply above the Crowden Brook. There are some beautiful view points as you ascend among sandstone rocks and along various edges. Some care is needed especially in wet and windy weather. Eventually from the rock edges you descend to make a number of stream crossings and once this is past you are finally on a a newish stone pavement section which takes you up over Black Hill (580m). The summit, which was once so difficult to reach is now easy, and marks the border between Derbyshire and West Yorkshire. The path then descends on the stones down to the busy A 635 road which you cross to leave on Wessenden Head Road which connects with a series of gravel and grassy tracks that pass by the two pretty Wessenden Reservoirs. There is then a steep rough ascent beside Blakey Clough and then sections of grass and stone pavement passing Swellands and Black Moss Reservoir until you reach the A62 Manchester road at Standedge where there is a railway and canal tunnel burrowing through the hills. Accommodation: At Standedge accommodation is a bit spread out and so you will have to walk a mile or two off the actual route to find it. One place is an originally 15th century Inn in a small village within a small village. The other is a stand alone coaching Inn by the main road and is popular with Pennine way campers. Large bar and restaurant facilities.

Meals:  B

From Standedge the walk continues up alongside another series of edges and Moorland hills with views over towards the large urban conurbations around Oldham and Manchester. After a brief dalliance on an ancient packhorse road and perhaps a lunchtime rest at the White Horse Inn, the Pennine Way passes three reservoirs before winding up to the needle shaped Stoodley Pike monument (402m) that you can see for over 5 miles before you reach it. This is one of the classic viewpoints along the route. There follows a long descent into the attractive old mill town of Hebden Bridge where there are several accommodation’s and lots of places to eat. This interesting place has attracted 'alternative lifestyle' characters over the past few years and has a good selection of shops and eateries. This is a worthy detour, just over a mile off the route of the path and is a good place to consider a day off although it is early into the walk. Accommodation: We use several possible guest houses or an Inn in the town, all of reasonable standard and welcoming to walkers.

Meals:  B

Start on the well waymarked Hebden Bridge loop via the pretty village of Heptonstall. This is initially a steep climb, but soon you are back on the trail and heading up to Colden where you can have a pint of tea at Highgate Farm. The trail then crosses the moors of Clough Head Hill descending on good tracks passing three reservoirs to then ascend Withins Height End (448m) and slightly down to Top Withins, famed for its possible connections with Emily Brontes 'Wuthering Heights'. The way then gradually descends through farms to Ponden reservoir past Ponden Hall and a possible accommodation. From Ponden a steep climb follows over Old Bess Hill (430m) and over Ickornshaw Moor on good tracks passing little black huts called ‘Cowlings’ that were used as shooters sheds and into the village of Cowling. Accommodation: Tonight something different, you will be staying in a modern 'cowling' complete with a small kitchen and a shower. Breakfast is not included but there is a village shop to buy anything required. Note accommodation is extremely limited in this area. If we cannot get you into the Shepherds Hut in Cowling it means that you will be in the B&B at Ponden. Ponden is approx. 7 km / 4.5 miles before Cowling which will mean that a couple of taxi transfers will be required (not included in the price). It would be also worth considering staying in Ponden if you would like an extra day to visit the Bronte House in Haworth, which is a couple of miles away.

Meals:  B

If you have got a bit tired of the rather bleak moors, this bridging day takes you between the end of the grit stone peat bogs for a while and into brighter limestone countryside. Today you pass through some attractive more lowland rolling countryside, passing the pretty village of Lothersdale and then a short section beside the Leeds and Liverpool canal, with a possible cream tea or pub break. Now in the Craven Valley the geology begins to change to limestone after Gargrave, and you finally follow the River Aire towards the popular tourist hotspot of Malham: a small village a mile away from a famous Limestone escarpment popular with climbers and hikers. Peregrine falcons can sometimes be see wheeling around here. It is quite a long day and surprisingly tiring, probably owing to the number of stiles and small undulations although most of the ascent is done in the early part of the day. Accommodaion: In Malham we generally stay in one of the beautiful old stone coaching Inns in the centre of the village. The other alternative is a quiet small hotel near the stream, tucked away from the centre.

Meals:  Nil

An iconic classic Pennine Way day stage, with lots of physical beauty and potentially great views. Now you are in the Yorkshire Dales National park and the trail climbs steeply up the cliffs of Malham Cove to walk along the limestone pavements into Watlowes Valley. Eventually you will arrive at beautiful Malham Tarn where you walk around half the lake before ascending up just bypassing Fountains Fell (670m). After this the whale back like hump of your high point for today can be seen. This is the peak of Pen - y - ghent (694m) which is well known to walkers of the "Three Peaks Walk" or the "Three Peaks Cyclo cross Race." The downhill route to Horton in Ribbleside is quite clear on an improved gravel track, passing Tarn Bar enroute : A tiny version of Malham Cove. At the B6479 road you will find it hard to resist the temptation to visit the Pen-y-ghent cafe if it is still open when you arrive and you can sign the book for 'Way' goers. Accommodation: In Horton you will be staying at either of the two main Inns, One has some have rooms facing the peak of Pen-y-ghent. There is also a local B&B. All are popular and walker friendly. Both pubs serve evening meals.

Meals:  B

From Horton you walk up through Birkwith Moor with impressive dales scenery and views of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, Whernside, Ingleborough and (behind you early on in the day) Peny-y-Ghent once again and it is worth trying to locate the stream tumbling into Calf Holes Cave only to reappear a bit further on at Brown Gill Cave. The route eventually climbs to join the Roman High Road at Cam End (438m) a very bleak location and then the trail intersects with "The Dales Way". The walk edges around Dodd Fell reaching nearly 600m, before dropping down through farmlands to the village of Gayle to the bustling market town of Hawes on the A684. Accommodation: A selection of B&Bs with ensuite rooms are avialable in Hawes. One doubles as an art studio. Sometimes you may also stay in an old coaching Inn.

Meals:  B

Potentially a beautiful but perhaps the hardest day up to now, with three major climbs through archetypal dales scenery with green pastures, drystone walls and winding rivers and then over sections of high fell moorland. Leaving Keld behind there is a dramatic change in the landscape into unkempt wild moors with little trace of human activity other than a few sheep grazing and evidence of the old coal mine workings. The contrast with the ‘Fat of the Land’ type valleys of Wensleydale and Swaledale is stark! Leaving Hawes there is a brief flirtation with the River Ure before the start of the main long ascent of the day up Great Shunner Fell (716m), the third highest mountain in Yorkshire and then steeply down into Thwaite. This is a good place to have a Cream Tea before continuing steeply up again where the path skirts the lower slopes of Kisdon and drops down bypassing the tiny settlement of Keld. The next ascent leads you out of the Swale valley, passing one potential B&B but generally you will continue another three miles to Tan Hill at 526m. Accommodation: The famous 17th Century pub at Tan Hill is an iconic, but certainly not a luxury establishment, It has, basic ensuite rooms and looks and feels old fashioned, but it is all about the location: The highest pub in England and a cozy place to hole up when the weather is raging. It has a great bar and nice pub food. The Blacksheep brewery has donated a dedicated snow plough, just in case you get stuck. Also three miles before Tan Hill there is a very nice B&B on the way up from Keld. This may be used, but it will mean a longer walk tomorrow.

Meals:  B

After the bleak moors around Tan Hill, the day is spent leaving the Yorkshire Dales National Park and entering the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This is often a stage where compasses come out as some of the tracks are quite faint! From Tan Hill, at 526 m, walking along Sleightholme Moor for a few miles can be very misty and muddy. If you have reasonable visibility, Tan Hill recedes to a tiny point on a hill which you can see for ages until you descend towards some reservoirs. The trail divides at Trough Heads You could follow the ‘Bowes Loop’ option if you like, but it adds four miles onto the walk and may be too much. We recommend that you follow the normal route which leads you to cross the River Greta via a slab of stone: "God's Bridge" and underpass the busy A66, before continuing on through the moors to Blackton Reservoir thus avoiding Bowes. After the bleakness of the moors today the meadow walks over the rolling hills past the Blackton and Lunedale reservoirs, are pleasant enough before the route passes Harter Fell and drops down into the valley of the river Tees and the pretty village of Middleton-in-Teesdale, which has shops, tea-shops and a couple of pubs. Accommodation: Attractive B&B with individually designed and decorated ensuite rooms in a style that reflects the many period features of the house such as Georgian fireplaces and exposed beams whilst incorporating all modern conveniences.

Meals:  B

A beautiful reasonably short day in order to let you really enjoy the scenery of upper Teesdale. This is the wild and eerie valley filled with the sound of Curlew, larks and lapwing. Omnipresent today is the River Tees which you follow more or less, all the way to Langdon Beck and you will note its various nuances and colours, along the way there are a series of cataracts, a couple of them very impressive- depending upon the water levels. The first waterfall is called Low Force and drops over a series of rocky steps. Eventually you reach the outstanding High Force, England's own version of Niagra Falls, well not as impressive as that, but does have its own idiosyncrasies. Part of the riverside section today is fenced off and thus protected from grazing sheep, in spring the flower and insect life along this section can be abundant, perhaps more so than anywhere else on the walk! Accommodation: In Langdon Beck we use a remote hotel in a spectacular part of Upper Teesdale, about 1 km from the Pennine Way. Good beer is a given and Homemade meals include hearty soups served with homemade bread. Firm favourites such as Steak Pie, Cottage Pie and Homemade Quiches as well as the simple Homecooked Ham, Egg and Chips are regular specials. Rooms are cozy, not all are ensuite. if the hotel is full, we will endeavor to get you a private ensuite room in the Youth Hostel which is a bit closer to the Pennine Way. It's an attractive small hostel with expansive views across the Tees Valley.

Meals:  B

Today you will encounter some of the wildest natural features of the entire walk. Setting off with some bouldery walking along the upper Tees valley, you round a corner and meet the roaring dragon that is another water fall called "Cauldron Snout" rumbling on the Tees. There is a rocky scramble beside the waterful, it is pretty safe but attention is needed. From the top, follow the lonesome moors along the Maize Beck until you reach the high end of High Cup Nick a magnificent deeply cut glacial 'U' shaped valley. Then it is on a few more miles downhill into Dufton. This is a fine little Green village with many old buildings and a good place for a pub meal! Accommodation: There are only a couple of places to stay in Dufton: We try to use a farm B&B all of the rooms have ensuite facilities (one with bath), are professionally decorated to a high standard and with central heating throughout. Otherwise we will try to get you a private ensuite room at the Youth hostel. It maybe necessary for us to book you in accommodation in Appleby which is 4 miles away, in which case you will need a taxi collection and drop off which is not included in the trip cost.

Meals:  B

A full, long day. Perhaps the hardest day in all as regard to route finding and exposure if the weather is poor. From Dufton the route takes you up over Knock Fell (794m), Great Dun Fell (848m) with its 'Golf Ball ' radar, over Little Dun Fell and then Cross Fell (893) which is the highest point along 'The Pennine Way.' The moorlands here are no place to get lost in the mist! There is a mountain refuge – Greg’s Hut - a little further on the descent from Cross fell if you need it, and it makes a great place to stop for lunch. It is then a tiring march on a stony moorland road to Garrigill for pub refreshments if open; before the 6 km / 3¾ miles or so undulating saunter along the South Tyne to the pretty little market town of Alston which has its roots in lead mining. Accommodation: either a small B&B with ensuite room situated on the ground floor, with a large hallway where boots can be safely kept. Otherwise you maybe in one of the two hotel / pubs that have rooms.

Meals:  B

This section begins with a lot of undulations through farms, fences and over walls and as the guide book points out it may be better to follow the virtually flat and wall-less South Tyne Trail from Alston to Lambley from where you can rejoin the Pennine Way via connecting roads and tracks. However there are some attractions on the main P.W. Route including the substantial site of Whitley Castle Roman Fort and later a nice section of Roman road called the Maiden Way. Crossing Lambley Common you can start to see to the north a change of scenery and a ridge that marks the location of Hadrians Wall and the forests of Northumberland beyond. The route is very agricultural, with a lot of little steep up and downs, stiles and gates and can be very muddy in places if there has been a lot of rain. Perhaps the name of the village of Slaggyford sums it all up! The walk then crosses some remote sections of moorland and onto Greenhead. Accommodation: in Greenhead is an old fashioned style hotel that would have served drinks to the local miners. The best feature is the very cosy bar. There are a number of rooms, if they are booked out it may be possible that you will be staying in a private room in the Hostel, run by the hotel, across the way in the former Methodist chapel which also has a drying room.

Meals:  B

Hadrians Wall and the Northumberland National Park beckon on the route, walking the roller coaster of Hadrians Wall. The first attraction are the ruins of Thirlwell Castle then walking along the Cawfield and Winshield Crags section the wall is very well preserved. You then drop down to pub and hostel at Once Brewed. You can then get a bus from the visitor centre, the appropriately named AD122 bus to visit the Roman Fortress at Housesteads and then bus back after a visit. However especially if the weather is good, you could continue along the wall another hilly 4.5km to Housesteads, you will get good photographs and then get the bus back to Once Brewed once you have visited the museum. This would mean that tomorrow you could take the bus to Housesteads and just walk back to where the Pennine way strikes north at the Rapishaw Gap to continue. The route turns to the North at Cuddy's Crags before the Housteads section. This is the shortest day on the route. Accommodation: Your Inn is situated on the B6318 (The Military Road) and is close to all the main Roman sites – Vindolanda, Housesteads and The Roman Army Museum. The Inn welcomes walkers with a drying room and other facilities including modern ensuite rooms. This was a brewery some hundreds of years ago. There is now a modern brewery on the site which make a selection of beers with names such as ‘Ale Caesar’. If we have not got you in at the Inn then you will probably be here in a private ensuite room at the newly built Youth Hostel next door. We will also book breakfast with the hostel for you.

Meals:  B

A very mixed days walking through the Northumberland National Park. Head Easterly along the wall for a few more kilometres, before turning north with the Pennine Way at a ladder syile in the wall at Rapishaw Gap. This section from Steel Rigg car park is the most dramatic of the wall, but very exposed to weather on a cold blustery day. You should get great views to the Pennines and across to the Simonside hills in Northumberland, tarns and the various coniferous forest estates. After crossing the open expanse of Ridley Common, with the escarpment of the wall receding behind you, you soon undulate through in places boggy forestry sections and moorland through the coniferous Wark Forest and to Lowstead, a historic fortified house to protect the locals and their animals from raiding groups called Reivers. The walk follows small roads and crosses farmland and the North Tyne to follow the river bank along into the pretty village of Bellingham. Accommodation: Here, there is a pleasant B&B with ensuite or private bathroom set up rooms. They will even do laundry and drying for a small fee. The other alternative is to use a very central hotel which does the best food in the town, all rooms at the hotel ensuite.

Meals:  B

Today the scenery is very diverse as you cross several miles of heather moorlands before passing through extensive conifer forests, then between forests and moors and then back into the forest and via Blakehopeburnhaugh on a pretty riverside path to the tiny former forestry workers village of Byrness. This has now only one accommodation possibility. Some of the sections can be very bleak and parts of the forest at present look like something from a World War 1 battlefield after some serious log cutting this last few years. Although in general well waymarked, there are lots of places during the first part of the day where the trail is faint, divides or disappears through short boggy sections. If it is clear you should have little trouble and get great views towards The Cheviot Hills from Whitley Pike (356m), and under Padon Hill (379m) which you just bypass the summit of. Accommodation: You will spend two nights in a small family run 4* Inn which has won the Northumberland National Park `Welcoming park exceptional visitor experience`award on a couple of occasions. Awarded because of their great welcome, exceptional service and high quality clean and modern rooms. The inn has seven single, twin, double and triple rooms all rooms have en-suite or private facilities. Meals are served in the Restaurant and Bar, where a range of locally brewed hand pulled craft ales are available alongside a choice of quality wines, spirits and soft drinks. Guests can relax and socialise in either the Sun Lounge or the Lounge Bar. There is also a free to use drying room to dry walking gear and boots.

Meals:  B,D

Today’s walk involves a very steep climb of around 200 metres straight out of Byrness and up to Byrness Hill (410 m) and into the hills of the Cheviot group of ancient extinct volcanoes. Another roller coaster day, walking via Ravens Pike and then a slight descent into the head of the River Coquet under Chew Edge where there is a Roman fort and camp laid out in grassy terraces. It is here that you join the famed Roman Road called Dere Street, for a short while that ascends by the forts to Black Halls where you descend off it soon joining fencelines and ascending up to a useful Mountain refuge hut below Lamb Hill (511m). The ascent continues up and over Beefstand Hill (565 m) and Mozie Law (552m) before reaching the high point of the day at Windy Gyle and Russell’s Cairn (619m). From here you must descend off the hill to the remote Trows farm on the Rowhope Burn for your pick up back to Byrness which takes about 45 mins. Accommodation: As last night in Byrness.

Meals:  B,D

A fantastic final day resuming in the remote Cheviot hills and finally crossing the border into Scotland. In fact you will pass across the border several times before the route finally decides to descend into Scotland for good reaching the end of the entire walk: The Border Hotel in Kirk Yetholm. The walk starts with a 40 minute ride to return to Trow Farm and that 3 km walk up to Windy Gyle. Then you continue on the walking roller-coaster that is the Cheviot Hills. (In addition there is the possible detour up to the big boggy fell top of Cheviot (815m) which will add slightly to the distance and take around 1.25 hours extra round trip. (The junction onto this path is well marked and you just return the same way). You must be ready to navigate although there are a lot of helpful fence-line boundary features. Eventually you drop down across the Cheviot Fells to alight at Kirk Yetholm an old borders market village in the middle of nowhere in particular, but this just happens to be the end of the Pennine Way! Accommodation: Dating from 1750 the usual Hotel offers a welcome sight for walkers. It’s commanding position at the head of the village green catches the imagination with its traditional thatched roof and eye catching frontage. A warm friendly welcome awaits you as you enter the cosy bar with its fine selection of beverages to enjoy in front of the roaring open fire while the tempting menu our chefs have created using local produce offers a fine selection of freshly prepared and well presented dishes.

Meals:  B

Depart Kirk Yetholm for your onward journey.

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • 18 breakfasts, 2 dinners
  • 19 nights accommodation on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities where available
  • One piece of luggage per person transferred from Inn to Inn, not exceeding 20kg
  • Information pack including route notes & maps (1 pack per room booked)
  • Emergency hotline

What's Not Included

  • One breakfast, Dinners (except for two), lunches & beverages
  • Entrance fees
  • Travel to the start and from the end point of the trip
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Unscheduled transfers required during the trip

Upcoming Travel Dates

AT A GLANCE

Duration:20 Days
Countries:England, Scotland
Starting Point:Edale
Finishing Point:Kirk Yetholm
Activities:Self-Guided Walking
Grade:challenging  Click for more information
Trip Code:WPP
Prices From:GBP£1470 Per Person