The Pennine Way Northern Section

The mighty High Force on the River TeesPatch of cowslips, May, on the Pennine wayCross fell from Little DunfellDerbyshire  Cream tea...Jam or cream first ,or perhaps butter!Gorse and pine, Scottish border hillsHadrians Wall over the hillsidesThe east side of High Cup Nick

The Pennine Way Northern Section

Trip Highlights

  • One of the World’s Great Walks
  • Varied and at times remote walking
  • 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
  • Fascinating Villages and small towns

Trip Summary

This 10 night itinerary offers the second complete half of the Pennine Way. On this half you will start amidst the Pennine Hills at the small market town of Middleton-in-Teesdale. The first day is a fairly short warm up along the valley of the youthful River Tees. You will have plenty of time to enjoy the sights and sounds of some thundering waterfalls including Low Force, High force and Bleabeck Fosse, before walking up to the small hotel for the night by quiet farms around Langdon Beck. The next morning you set out to conquer the upper reaches of the River Tees, but first you have to scramble up the side of Cauldren Snout waterfall emanating from Cow Green reservoir. The walk continues over bleak moors and then almost stumbles into the eastern end of the large glacier carved 'U'shaped valley of High Cup Nick which drops down into the pretty 'green' village of Dufton in Cumbria. The next day is one of the hardest of the tour, a steep series of ascents over a succession of hills: Green Fell, Knock Old Man, Great Dun Fell and Little Dun Fell; leads you to the arctic summit of Cross Fell at 2,930 feet (893m), the highest point on the Pennine Way. A long descent continues via the village of Garrigill to follow the river South Tyne to the old lead mining town of Alston. The route then winds out for a day through farms and fields above the River South Tyne passing Roman Whitley Castle and threading its way in a series of undulations to the old hotel at Greenhead. The next day you join iconic Hadrian's Wall near the mediaeval ruin of Thirlwell Castle and undertake to walk a short series of undulations along the wall until Twice Brewed. You will have plenty of time to take the bus or walk to historic Roman sites such as Housesteads. After this more relaxing day and night, you hit the wall again passing a couple of interesting milecastles and the beautifully photogenic Sycamore Gap, before turning north through Rapishaw Gap to pass through the eerie 'no mans land' immediately north of the wall. The walk settles into a undulating moorland and forestry plantation before arriving at the charming market town of Bellingham on the North Tyne. Those with more energy may like to do the Hareshaw Linn Walk and visit a couple of small waterfalls. From Bellingham more forests and heather moors beckon. In good weather there are long ranging views towards the Cheviot Hills. Forestry operations are on-going in places, but soon you arrive at beautiful Blakehopeburnhaugh, the longest place-name in England, with its lovely silky river. Continue onto Byrness a pre wartime forestry encampment and a tiny pub hotel where you will stay for two nights. Over the last two walking days you will ascend over the rollercoaster hills to windy Gyle via Dere Street and the Roman camps at Chew Green, before being transported back to Byrness. The following morning you continue from Windy Gyle into the Cheviot Hills, where you could ascend to the summit of the Cheviot 2,674 feet (815m) which is a mile off the route. The route flirts with the Scottish border before finally descending into village of Kirk Yethom, where The Border Hotel stands as the official end of the walk.

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 pretty and yet small village of Middleton-in-Teesdale located in County Durham. This small viillage 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:  Nil

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 waterfall called "Cauldron Snout" rumbling on the Tees. There is a rocky scramble up beside it, - 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 (89m3) 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 the Roman 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 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 day's 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

  • 10 breakfasts, 2 dinners
  • 10 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

  • 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:11 Days
Countries:England, Scotland
Starting Point:Edale
Finishing Point:Kirk Yetholm
Activities:Self-Guided Walking
Grade:challenging  Click for more information
Trip Code:WPM
Prices From:GBP£930 Per Person