The Pennine Way is an historic walking trail that is known as ‘the backbone of England’.
It runs centrally along the northern parts of England and into the borders of Scotland.
A route that takes in the spectacular scenery of the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales and the Pennine hills and mountains, this trail is ideal for those who love upland walking.
Opened in 1956, this is a National Trail route that has seen many thousands of walkers along its path.
Beginning in Edale, Derbyshire, The Pennine Way runs 429 kilometres north, over Hadrian’s Wall and into Kirk Yetholm on the Scottish borders.
The Pennine Way is a mixed trail, moderate in places and tough in others.
Some parts have gentle terrain and are popular with walkers of all abilities, while some parts are steep, marshy or remote.
It is great for those in training for more rugged mountain hiking, or those who want to test and improve their stamina and fitness.
To walk the full length of The Pennine Way, allow 20 days to do it comfortably. Many walkers prefer to split the way into stages.
Prices for B&B’s will vary, but expect to pay around £50 plus per night on average. If you are on a budget, there are youth hostels and campsites along the route.
- A long route that is an achievement to complete.
- Set any keen hiker up for their next challenge.
- Rugged, awe inspiring landscape
- Historic forts and heritage sites, as well as small towns and picturesque villages.
Both ends of the Pennine Way, as well as areas along the route have great public transport links, so there are plenty of options for walking north to south or vice versa, or if you prefer to walk different parts of the trail.
Edale at the southern end of the trail is a 45 minute train journey from nearby cities Sheffield and Manchester. Berwick-upon-Tweed has a train station, where connecting buses can be found.
If you are coming from Newcastle or Edinburgh, there are buses that take you to Jedburgh. You can then get other connecting buses to Kelso, and then Kirk Yetholm. Kelso to Kirk Yetholm takes around 30 minutes.
If you are coming from further afield, or abroad, suitable airports include Manchester to head to the southern end of the trail, or Glasgow to begin the trail in the north.
If you are driving, the M1 and M6 motorways will bring you to the Peak District National Park when the Pennine Way begins in Edale. If you prefer to walk the trail from the north, you need to follow the A1 or A7 into Scotland.
The Pennine Way is 429 kilometres, and a walker of average ability should be able to complete the trail in 20 days. However, if you want to stop and see some sights along the way, allow a few more days.
For those who don’t have the option of a 20 day hiking trip, three week long trips can help you dissect the walk into manageable parts.
Grade and difficulty of the walk
If you plan to complete the whole length of this walk, be prepared for some challenging terrain.
The Pennines are a mountain range, so expect to steep inclines and adverse weather. However, it should be manageable if you are averagely fit and used to hiking.
The easiest parts of the walk are in the Yorkshire Dales, or the valleys in the North Pennines, so that might be the best place to enjoy the path if you are a beginner.
The highest point on the trail is 893 metres above sea level, at the summit of Cross Fell. There are also some steep, rocky inclines along the path at Phen-y-ghent.
The Pennine Way has mixed pathway surfaces. There are grass and rocks, smaller stones and occasionally peat bog. Be prepared for a wet sock or two!
However, the path is clearly marked with National Train signposts.
You can also expect to be crossing plenty of styles along the length of this walk.
While the terrain may be suitable for many types of hiker, it is the sheer length of The Pennine way that makes it attractive to long distance hikers and those who want to challenge themselves.
The more experienced may want to complete the trail in a few days, while those who prefer a slower pace and even terrain may choose just to walk some parts.
This is a clearly marked trail that requires no special navigational skills, although map reading will give you lots of information about your surroundings.
No permits are necessary to walk The Pennine Way.
Guided or Self-Guided
Arranged tours are available, however self-guided walking is the most common option.
The National Trails signage is clear and easy to find. It is always worth carrying a pocket sized map with you to give you an idea of where you are on the trail, or how to get back to it if you decide to explore other footpaths.
The benefits of using a guided tour is that you can just walk and enjoy the scenery, without having to plan a daily itinerary.
The best time to explore The Pennine Way is during spring, summer and early autumn, where you get the best of the UK weather conditions.
During the winter season, it can be difficult to know what the weather will be like.
But to fully enjoy The Pennine Way, it is best to avoid white-outs, freezing conditions and low light levels that winter can bring.
A typical itinerary would be:
Edale to Crowden – 26 kilometres
Crowden to Stand Edge – 18 kilometres
Stand Edge to Calder Valley – 18 kilometres
Calder Valley to Ickornshaw – 26 kilometres
Ickornshaw to Malham – 27 kilometres
Malham to Horton – 23 kilomteres
Horton to Hawes – 23 kilometres
Hawes to Tan Hill – 27 kilometres
Tan Hill to Middleton in Teesdale – 27 kilometres
Middleton in Teesdale to Dufton – 34 kilomotres
Dufton to Alston – 32 kilometres
Alston to Greenhead – 26 kilometres
Greenhead to Bellingham – 35 kilometres
Bellingham to Byrness – 24 kilometres
Byrness to Windy Gyle – 22 kilometres
Windy Gyle to Kirk Yetholme – 21 kilometres
This 16 day plan can have rest days added throughout to make three, week long walking excursions.
No matter which direction you take for this walk, you are met with stunning scenery and natural landscapes. Dotted with small towns and villages, The Pennine Way is the perfect combination of British countryside interspersed with places you can stock up on supplies and put your feet up for a well-earned rest.
Crossing the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland National Park, The Pennine Way is a route where you can make many diversions if you want to explore other walks.
Being a jewel in the National Trail crown, The Pennine Way is well set up for walker’s accommodation. You’ll find plenty of small B&Bs in the towns and villages along the route, just remember to book in advance if you are planning to walk in the busier summer months.
If you are looking to book accommodation, there are companies that can do it for you and also arrange to have your bags taken from one B&B to the next, so you can just get on with enjoying your walk.
For cheaper accommodation, there are youth hostels and campsites along the Pennine Way.
These offer a community spirit and are a great place to meet other walkers.
Hotels in the Peak District
- Edale Barn Cotefield Farm
- Upper Booth Camping Barn
- Ollerbrook Farm Bunkhouses
Hotels in the Yorkshire Dales/Pennines:
- Airton Barn, Friends Meeting House
- Hebden Bridge Hostel
- Earby Friends of Nature House
- Malham Tarn Bothies
- Hardraw Old School Bunkhouse
Hotels in the North Pennines
- Haggs Bank Bunkhouse and Camping
- Alston Youth Hostel
- Slack House Farm
- Gibbs Hill Bunkhouse
There are many highlights on The Pennine Way that are worth noting.
Kinder Scout is a 600 meter high plateau that offers exceptional views across the hills and valleys of the Peak District.
Stoodly Pike is a monument built in 1856 to commemorate the end of the Crimean War. There is a viewing platform where you can enjoy the sights of the Calder Valley.
Spend some time at Malham Cove, a natural wonder that was formed by an ice-age waterfall. The 260 ft. drop is also somewhere you can climb with professional instruction.
Fancy visiting the highest pub in Britain? At 528 meters above sea level, Tan Hill Inn in Richmondshire is a welcoming place where you can get accommodation as well as refreshments.
There are some stunning waterfalls along The Pennine Way, such as High Force waterfall in Middleton in Teesdale that has a 21 ft. drop. A great spot to stop for a photo and a snack!
The North Pennines is where you’ll find High Cup Nick, an amazing U shaped valley formed by an ice-age glacier.
Find the trig point on Cross Fell, the highest part of The Pennine Way at 890 metres. Be prepared for some adverse weather conditions!
The iconic Hadrian’s Wall is a spot where you can enjoy rich heritage and lush green hills. The path takes you along some of the best preserved parts of the wall from Greenhead to Housesteads Roman Fort.
As well as having important sites of interest, the Pennine Way is a place where you will find many British pubs and cafes where you can get a bite to eat. Many are dog friendly too, and are well set up for walkers.
|Skills Required||Hiking, Walking|
|Starts at||Edale, Hope Valley S33, UK|
|Finishes at||Kirk Yetholm, Kelso TD5 8PQ, UK|
|Length of route||429 Km|
|Average time to complete||18 - 22 Days|
|Possible to complete sub-sections||Yes|
|Highest point||890 metres|
|Equipment needed||Poles if preferred, Trekking gear, walking boots|
|Countries visited||England, Scotland, UK|