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Pennine Way

The Pennine Way boasts several firsts.

It was Britain’s first official National Trail.  

It also has its start point in Britain's first National Park.

Edale, Peak District, Derbyshire, near the start of the Pennine Way
Edale, Peak District, Derbyshire © Simon Paterson via Flickr

And so it continues. Most people walk the trail from South to North, hence the generally accepted start point being Edale, in the heart of the Peak District.

View from the Pennine Way
View from the Pennine Way © Andrew Bowden via Flickr


Spectacular scenery is a theme of The Pennine Way as it wends its path for some 258 miles through the Peak District National Park, across the Yorkshire Dales National Park and on through the Northumberland National Park.

Official Start of The Pennine Way
Official Start of The Pennine Way © Matt Bourne via Flickr

However, as with the other National Trails, it's split up into shorter sections, 19 in this case.

The walking is challenging yet rewarding with much stunning scenery to take in and lots of history to soak up.

The Crown Inn, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Yorkshire
The Crown Inn, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Yorkshire © Andrew Bowden via Flickr

From the majestic Malham Cove and imposing Cross Fell to such as historical centres ad Bronte Country's Haworth, Hadrian's Wall, the Pennine Way has something for everyone.


The challenging nature of The Pennine Way means you should plan ahead and go properly equipped and skilled for your hike, regardless of whether you plan to tackle many sections, or indeed just one or two.

The Mighty High Force waterfall
High Force Waterfall © Andrew Bowden via Flickr

Pennine Way challenges are serious hill walking tests, some examples being the traverse and peat bogs of the 1,900ft Dark Peak, the 2,930ft Cross Fell and the Cheviot-top route and peaks as you make your way towards journey's end at Kirk Yetholm.

Walkers are advised not to walk the route alone and are advised to check the weather forecast before setting off on each section of the trail.

Squeezing through the kissing gate at Hawes
The Kissing Gate at Hawes © Andrew Bowden via Flickr

Additionally, you should let someone know your plans and familiarise yourself with current advice on hill walking safety and protection from such people as mountain rescue units and the Ramblers' Association.

Accommodation and Sustenance

While many of The Pennine Way routes are very remote, the national parks it traverses are very popular, thus accommodation and sustenance should be available on various sections as you periodically enter towns and villages on the way.

However, due to the popularity of the regions concerned, you are advised to book ahead. Please note you should still take the usual food and water supplies with you onto the trail!

The View At Ponden Reservoir
The View At Ponden Reservoir © Andrew Bowden via Flickr

For the very fit and experienced walkers planning to tackle the Pennine Way in one go, navigating the entire long distance path will take anything from two to three weeks.

However, as trails of varying lengths and difficulties count themselves parts of the Pennine Way, it should be possible to find a route to suit your needs, from a day out to a weekend or a more significant walking break.

The route is carefully managed, with a dedicated Pennine Way liaison officer - his office contact number is +44 (0)113 246 9222.

Here is a summary of the Pennine Way sections:




The Official Pennine Way start point.

Things to do near Edale

Edale - Crowden

Length: 16 miles
Total since start: 16 miles

Setting off from the Nag's Head in Edale, the Pennine Way climbs up onto the Dark Peak gritstone plateaux of Kinder Scout and Bleaklow. The going here is quite tough and can be very boggy, so be prepared.

Things to do near Crowden

Crowden - Standedge

Length: 11 miles
Total Since Start: 27 miles

This section of the Pennine Way starts with a climb again, this time onto the Laddow Rocks. Boggy ground makes an appearance as you near Soldier's Lump.

Things to do near Standedge

Standedge - Hebden Bridge

Length: 15 miles
Total since start: 42 miles

Flatter going for much of the section, though with some descent and climbing again as you approach Hebden Bridge. Look out for the Stoodley Spike monument, built to commemorate the end of the Napoleanic wars.

Things to do near Hebden Bridge

Hebden Bridge - Ponden

Length: 11 miles
Total Since Start: 53 miles

After passing through the wooded countryside this section opens out onto Moorland where you find one of the many Pennine Way historical features - Top Withen, reputedly the inspiration for Heathcliffe's farmstead in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights.

Things to do near Ponden

Ponden - Thornton in Craven

Length: 11.5 miles
Total since start: 64.5 miles

The Pennine Way Bronte theme continues as you pass through traditional Bronte country and Haworth on your way to the village of Thornton in Craven. The going tends to be easier as much of it is through farmland, however there are also moors to cross and these can be exposed.

Things to do near Thornton in Craven

Thornton in Craven - Malham

Length: 10.5 miles
Total Since Start: 75 miles

This section sees the Pennine Way pass into the Yorkshire Dales National Park as the trail passes through Airedale. With it comes a change to limestone geology that the area is famous for.

Things to do near Malham

Malham - Horton in Ribblesdale

Length: 14.5 miles
Total since start: 89.5 miles

Many spectacular sights on this section of the Pennine Way, the first being Malham Cove, a 250 ft limestone sheer cliff, topped by impressive limestone pavement. Hereafter, the trail passes into moorland and makes an ascent of the 1,191 ft Fountains Fell and then the hilltop moorland continues on to the 2,273ft Pen-y-Ghent.

Care should be taken on this section as limestone potholes abound.

Things to do near Horton in Ribblesdale

Horton in Ribblesdale - Hawes

Length: 14 miles
Total Since Start: 103.5 miles

This section of the Pennine Way continues through limestone based hilltop farm and moorland following ancient drove roads. It is quite remote and you can be exposed to the elements.

Things to do near Hawes

Hawes - Keld

Length: 12 miles
Total since start: 115.5 miles

On this section of the Pennine Way you'll discover the rolling countryside of Wenslidale and Swaledale, regarded by many to be among the Yorkshire Dales' most picturesque areas. You'll also find Hardraw Force, at almost 100ft high believed to be England's highest waterfall.

The route goes on to cross the 2,340 ft Great Shunner Fell before descending into Thwaite and Keld.

Things to do near Keld

Keld - Bowes

Length: 12 miles
Total Since Start: 127.5 miles

Another Pennine Way highpoint as the route climbs the 1,732ft Tan Hill and passes England's highest pub - the Tan Hill Inn. Thereafter, you continue over Sleightholme Moor and on into Bowes.

Things to do near Bowes

Bowes - Forest in Teesdale

Length: 19 miles
Total since start: 146.5 miles

The bleak ruggedness of Cotherstone and Hundererthwaite moors are sharply contrasted once you pass through Middleton in Teesdale and follow the river Tees, where spectacular views abound.

Another Pennine Way highpoint to be viewed here, that being the striking High Force waterfall, which is indeed just one of various captivating rivers features and falls. Once the trail passes Bleabeck things open out again as you make for Forest in Teesdale.

Things to do near Forest in Teesdale

Forest in Teesdale - Dufton

Length: 13.5 miles
Total Since Start: 160 miles

A more traditional Pennine Way section with pretty bleak moorland to cross after the climb up past Cauldron Snout. The relatively featureless Stainmore common serves well as a blank-canvas backdrop to the striking cliffs of High Cup Nick, reached a little before you descend into Dufton.

Things to do near Dufton

Dufton - Alston

Length: 19.5 miles
Total since start: 179.5 miles

Another highpoint in this section of imposing hills. Cross Fell, at 2,930ft, is the highest point on the entire Pennine Way National Trail. Just to warm you up for it, you'll need to climb Knock Fell, Great Dun Fell and Little Dun Fell on the way there, each a challenge in its own right.

Things to do near Alston

Alston - Greenhead

Length: 16.5 miles
Total Since Start: 196 miles

The Pennine Way says goodbye to the Yorkshire Dales National Park in this section, as you follow old Roman roads through the South Tyne valley and villages like Castle Nook and Slaggyford towards the northern Roman frontier of Greenhead and your first meeting with Hadrian's Wall.

Things to do near Greenhead

Greenhead - Steel Rigg

Length: 6.5 miles
Total since start: 202.5 miles

The Roman theme continues as you follow Hadrian's Wall to Steel Rigg.

Things to do near Steel Rigg

Steel Rigg - Bellingham

Length: 15 miles
Total Since Start: 217.5 miles

It's worth taking a mile or so detour from the official Pennine Way route on this section to visit Housteads and its impressive Roman Fort. Thereafter, the trail takes you through the Northumberland National park as you make your way up to Bellingham. You're now passing out of the Pennines and making for the Cheviots.

Things to do near Bellingham

Bellingham - Byrness

Length: 15 miles
Total since start: 232.5 miles

A relatively featureless and exposed section, at least until you make it to forest some half way along the route. There are a number of hills to cross, those being Deer Play at 1,183ft, Padon Hill at 1,240ft and Brownrigg Head at 1,191ft.

Advice is that you should stock up on food and supplies at Bellingham as there is little chance to do so from here until Kirk Yetholm.

Things to do near Byrness

Byrness - Clennell Street

Length: 14 miles
Total Since Start: 246.5 miles

This border crossing trail is one of The Pennine Way's more challenging sections, both in terms of remoteness of the route, and so the need to camp if staying overnight, and of exposure to the elements. You should be properly prepared for walking this section.

The path follows the line of the Cheviot Hills until you reach Clennell Street, a Roman road which runs close to Border Gate. It may be worth seeking out more sheltered land on which to camp if overnighting here.

Things to do near Clennell Street

Clennell Street - Kirk Yetholm

Length: 11 miles
Total since start: 257.5 miles

Again, a serious, challenging hill country section, so once more be prepared and check the weather forecast.

The trail includes an ascent of the 2,676ft Cheviot, but as this is on a spur, many miss it out, satisfying themselves with the various other ascents of hills and ridges on the route. Coming off the hills into Kirk Yetholm, you should make for the Border Hotel where the Pennine Way National Trail officially ends.

Things to do near Kirk Yetholm

You can continue reading about other National Trails and Long Distance Walks using the links at the bottom of the page.

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