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The foaming waters of Cauldron Snout, Teesdale
Langdon Beck
Twice Brewed


The Pennine Way is a 250 to 270 mile (410 to 443 km) trail from Edale in Derbyshire (England) to Kirk Yetholm in Roxburghshire (Scotland). The length of the Pennine Way depends on which guidebook you use, the route you take (there are a couple of options) and any excursions away from the Pennine Way. It was first proposed by the rambler and journalist Tom Stephenson in 1935 and officially opened on 24th April 1965, at a gathering of over 2000 walkers at Malham Moor in the Yorkshire Dales. Since then thousands of people each year have traversed the Pennine Way in part or whole. This first and longest of the English hill-walks is under constant renovation as the effects of so many people are felt.

Information for the walk can be gathered from the following guidebooks:

O The National Trail Guides - Pennine Way South (Edale to Bowes) ( and Pennine Way North (Bowes to Kirk Yetholm) ( - written by Tony Hopkins, published by Aurum Press Ltd. in association with the Countryside Commission and the Ordinance Survey. These books cover the whole route in considerable detail with extracts from Ordinance Survey maps showing the route. There is good advice on how to walk the Pennine Way, what to take and what to expect. Included are a number of articles about features met on the Pennine Way - read especially the one on peat and blanket bogs on pages 44-45 of the southern book. As an added bonus there are a number of circular walks described that take in some part of the Pennine Way. At the back of each book there is a section of useful information - transport, accommodation, useful addresses, the OS maps to use and other books to have a look at.
O Pennine Way Companion - a pictorial guide ( by A. Wainwright - a famous Lake District walker and journalist who died in 1993. This is the classic Pennine Way guide written in 1968. It is well worth any money spent for A. Wainwright's style of wit, his unique presentation of the route, the many well executed pen sketches and his notes on the history, geology and biology of the countryside. The book is entirely hand written! It is no longer as accurate as it was - keep an eye out for an updated version (hopefully in keeping with A. Wainwright's style).
O If you want to keep your guidebooks in mint condition to enjoy in the evenings then the Footprint booklets, Pennine Way Part 1: South and Pennine Way Part 2: North provide enough information to keep you on the right track (and are cheap and light).

O Also have a look at my Pennine Way Fact File.

Most of the guidebooks describe the Pennine Way as "tough". By New Zealand standards, it is an average tramp - there are no long steep sections, no river fording and few navigation problems. Two factors though make it more suitable for fairly fit and experienced trampers.

O Firstly there are large sections of the first 3 days and the last 2 days (over the Cheviot hills) that trudge their way through bogs. These bogs are not just a few patches of mud. The blanket bog on the Kinder plateau and Featherbed Moss consists of square miles of black peat to a average depth of over 3 feet. On top of this is a crust of moss and other water-loving plants. Erosion by water and walkers boots form channels (groughs or cloughs if they hold flowing water) which can be up to 6 feet deep. Navigation through these groughs can be quite confusing (I can definitely vouch for that!). Improvements are being made with boardwalks over the boggier patches in the Cheviots and stone causeways in the southern bogs.
O If you do the Pennine Way in one go (as I did) then you face the strain of walking many miles each day, every day for up to 3 weeks. I was lucky in that my only injuries were quite large blisters on an a heel during the second day (caused by wet boots from the bog-trotting) which cleared up by the fifth day. I suggest that you set a reasonable daily limit (mine was 16 miles (26 km)) and have at least 1 rest day.

Despite the previous paragraph, I have heard of an American family with a 9 year old girl who did the Pennine Way and walked some of the way with a retired bloke. So age is no barrier.

Access to the start in Edale is quite easy by public transport since there is a railway station with regular trains from Manchester and Sheffield. I have tried both ways and the train journey in from Sheffield is longer but much more scenic than that from Manchester. What little I saw of Sheffield was also prettier than Manchester. The only public transport from Kirk Yetholm is buses (frequent Monday to Saturday but only 3 on Sunday).

Accommodation of various sorts is available in most places. In general the further north you go, the less accommodation there is on hand. I have lists of hotels, pubs, B&B, Youth Hostels and camp sites on my pages. However I cannot guarantee that these are up to date. I suggest that you order the National Trail leaflet which includes general information about the trail, an accommodation guide and a public transport guide.

The guidebooks above have good enough maps to keep you on track but you may want maps for a larger area, e.g. to identify distant features. The Ordnance Survey Landranger maps that cover the Pennine Way are:
O 0109: Manchester, Bolton & Warrington
O 0103: Blackburn & Burnley, Clitheroe & Skipton
O 0098: Wensleydale & Upper Wharfedale
O 0092: Barnard Castle and Surrounding Area
O 0091: Appleby-in-Westmoorland
O 0087: Hexham & Haltwhistle
O 0086: Haltwhistle & Brampton, Bewcastle & Alston
O 0080: Cheviot Hills & Kielder Water
O 0075: Berwick-upon-Tweed
O 0074: Kelso & Coldstream, Jedburgh & Duns

I did the Pennine Way in 1991 - there have probably been changes so don't use this as a definitive route guide! For example, the path across Featherbed Moss has been improved by being paved with stone slabs and there are similar causeways laid over many of the boggier parts.

OThe Pennine Way - August/September 2004
Lots of photos and a good description of Shirl's trip.
The Pennine Way, May and June, 2002
Lots of photos with a bit of description.
O John's Pennine Way
A well documented trip done July 1st - 16th 2000 with tons of photos.
O Walks N' Talks (1997).
A good set of diaries on various long distance walks.
O The Pennine Way by Ian Steele
Lots on information based on his 1995 trip.
OA Pennine Diary by George Tod
This is the tale of his second traverse of the Pennine Way in 1994, going north to south. It has a number of good photos and there is also an account of his 1991 trip.
O Spotlight's Pennine Way
This site has a great description of the walk, includes an on-line accommodation booking service and offers a baggage transfer service.
O The Pennine Way
This is the official National Trails site for the Pennine Way. A wonderful site for planning your conquest of the Pennine Way - a good map, accommodation guides and lots of information.
O Pennine Way Association
A short description of the Pennine Way with distances, tips and addresses.
O The Malham area
YorkshireNet description of Malham (nice pictures).
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