- On 02 Aug 2021
The Pennine Way
The Pennine Way is a 268 mile walk which starts in Edale, UK and ends in Kirk Yetholm, Scotland. The world-renowned trail was the first National Trail in England, opening on the 24th of April 1965. Since its opening, The Pennine Way walk has paved the way for public access to some of England’s wildest landscapes along the backbone of England. This iconic and scenic route is one of the UK’s most famous long-distance trails.
The Pennine Way Walk
Drenched in history and stunning landscapes, the iconic Pennine Way walk is one for the bucket list. The spectacular Pennine Way walk spans through the backbone of England, from the hills of the Derbyshire Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales, through Swaledale Valley, across the North Pennines, and over Hadrian’s Wall Northumberland to the Cheviot Hills, concluding on the Scottish border in Kirk Yetholm.
The Pennine Way terrain is hilly and often remote. In certain places the path is firm and smooth, however in others it may be narrow, wet, and boggy. A waterproof and plenty of dry socks are essential. Mid-May to September are the best months to walk The Pennine Way, but the trail can be walked all year round.
How long is The Pennine Way?
The Pennine Way stretches across 268 miles (431km) of England’s wild northern uplands.
Where does the walk start and finish?
The Pennine Way walk starts in Edale, and ends in Kirk Yetholm, just inside the Scottish border.
How hard is it to walk The Pennine Way?
The Pennine Way Walk is arguably the most challenging National Trail in England. Therefore the route is recommended for experienced walkers who are looking for a unique experience. However, the route can be split into short walks. The Pennine Way has a combined ascent that exceeds the highest point of Mount Everest. Most walkers use walking poles to cover the long trek. Walking enthusiasts consider this walk to be one of the greatest in the UK, along side the Helvellyn hike and the Coast to Coast walk.
Can you wild camp on the trail?
Unfortunately, under current law, wild camping in England is not legal. Therefore, it is not possible to wild camp on Pennine Way.
Pennine Way Walk Map
Below is a map of the full Pennine Way walk to help you navigate the iconic trail.
Pennine Way Walk Itinerary
Below, we have listed the seventeen stages that mark the most iconic stops along he trail. The Pennine walking itinerary is a fiercely tough one for walkers, so make sure you plan your route.
Stage One: Edale to Crowden or Torside
Distance: (16 miles / 25.6km)
Historically, the route would take walkers over the top of Kinder Scout, but the modern route keeps you off the tops of Kinder Scout and keeps you on a generally good path up over Jacob’s Ladder, Kinder Low, and up towards Kinder Downfall. The way then makes a descent from Kinder and along a paved walkway from Mill Hill crossing the A57 road and up to Bleaklow Head, before reaching a lengthy, and in places steep descent via Torside Clough to Torside reservoir.
Stage Two: Crowden or Torside to Standedge
Distance: (13.2 miles / 21.2km)
A less challenging day with plenty of beautiful scenery to be soaked up as you pass several different sized reservoirs. As you ascend among sandstone rocks and along the edge of Rakes and Laddow Rocks, there will be some stunning views. From the rock edges, you will begin to descend to make several stream crossings along Meadowgrain Clough and then up over Black Hill. Beside Blakey Clough, there is a steep rough climb with sections of grass and stone pavement as you pass Swellands and Black Moss reservoir. Finally you will reach Standedge where you will find a railway and canal tunnel.
Stage Three: Standedge to Hebden Bridge
Distance: (17.3 miles / 28km)
With large views over the large, urban conurbations around Oldham and Manchester, the trail continues along a series of edges and Moorland hills. You pass three reservoirs before reaching the needle shaped Stoodley Pike monument – an iconic viewpoint and perfect photo opportunity. The trail then follows a long descent into Hebden Bridge.
Stage Four: Hebden Bridge to Cowling
Distance: (17.3 miles / 28km)
After an initial steep climb from Hebden Bridge, the trail heads up to Colden, where at ‘May’s Shop’ in Highgate Farm you can enjoy a pint of tea. After crossing the moors of Clough Hill Head, you will pass two reservoirs before ascending down to Top Withens. Stage four rounds up with a steep climb over Old Bess Hill and Ickornshaw Moor.
Stage Five: Cowling to Malham Cove
Distance: (18 miles / 29km)
The leg from Cowling is beautiful, with plenty of scenery around the River Aire. Passing through some attractive lowland rolling countryside, this bridging day will take you through the village of Lothersdale. You will follow the River Aire towards the popular tourist hotspot Malham Cove.
Stage Six: Malham to Horton in Ribblesdale
Distance: (15.2 miles / 24.6km)
Starting in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, you will have a steep climb up the cliffs of Malham Cove and along the stunning limestone pavements into Watlowes Valley. Then, after Fountain Fell, your highest peak for today can be seen, the peak of Pen-y-Ghent (2,277ft / 694m) – better known to walkers as The Three Peaks. You will then embark on the downhill route to Horton in Ribblesdale, with plenty of cafes and lunch spots for you to enjoy.
Stage Seven: Horton in Ribblesdale to Hawes
Distance: (14 miles / 22.4km)
Another chance to appreciate the impressive dales scenery, passing through Birkwith Moor. Eventually, the route climbs to join the Roman High Road at Cam End. The route edges around Dodd Fell before dropping through the farmlands into Gayle and through to the town of Hawes.
Stage Eight: Hawes to Keld or Tan Hill
Distance: (12.5 miles / 20km) or (16 miles / 25.6km)
The walk will see you leave the greenery for more desolate moors up to Great Shunner Fell, then a descent to the fields of Thwaite. The walk climbs high above the River Swale and offers beautiful scenery. You can opt to walk 200 metres off route towards Keld for accommodation, or blaze the trail further up the moors to reach Tan Hill.
Stage Nine: Keld to Bowes
Distance: (13 miles / 21km)
Entering the stunning natural beauty called the North Pennines, you will leave the Yorkshire Dales National Park. If you opt for a night stay in Keld you will need to blast up the moors to Tan Hill, from there following along Sleightholme Moor for some misty and muddy miles. You can drop down into Bowes or Baldersdale for accommodation, or continue on the trail crossing the River Greta.
Stage Ten: Bowes to Middleton or Langdon Beck
Distance: (17 miles / 27km) or (25 miles / 40km)
With no big ascents, there are around 6 hours of rolling terrain. With plenty of farms, ruins, and reservoirs the route will eventually drop down into the valley of the River Tees. Walking Bowes to Langdon Beck? You will need to spend another walking from Langdon Beck to Dufton (12.5 miles), otherwise the hike over Garrigill becomes 28 miles.
Stage Eleven: Middleton in Teesdale to Dufton
Distance: (20 miles / 32km) or (12.5 miles / 20km)
Get ready to encounter some of the wildest natural features of the Pennine Way. Over a series of rocky steps you will encounter the first waterfall, Low Force. Eventually you will reach the stunning High Force. If you continue the walk instead of hostelling, you will reach another waterfall called Cauldron Snout. Continue along the moors along the Maize Beck until you reach High Cup Nick, then onto to Dufton.
Stage Twelve: Dufton to Carrigill or Alston
Distance: (17 miles / 27km) or (20 miles / 32km)
Bring plenty of supplies and food for a long day. If the weather is poor, it will be difficult to find a route. The trail takes you over Knock Fell (794m), Great Dun Fell (848m), over Little Dun Fell, and then Cross Fell (893m) – the highest point on Pennine Way.
Stage Thirteen: Alston to Greenhead
Distance: (16 miles / 25.6km)
Prepare for a tedious and muddy walk. Taking the Maiden Way Roman Road towards Hartleyburn Common onto Greenhead.
Stage Fourteen: Greenhead to Once Brewed
Distance: (7 miles / 11km)
You will walk the rollercoaster of Hadrian’s Wall, which can be tiring. Staying in Once Brewed gives you the opportunity to visit the wealth of attractions along the wall. If you are hostelling in at Once Brewed, we suggest dropping your belongings and enjoying a rest day to walk the wall at your own leisure.
Stage Fifteen: Once Brewed to Bellingham
Distance: (15.5 miles / 25km)
There will be wonderful views along the Pennines and across the Simonside hills in Northumberland. Turning north through Northumberland National Park, through Wark Forest, and to Lowstead. Following farmlands, small roads, and the North Tyne down the riverbank to the lovely village of Bellingham.
Stage Sixteen: Bellingham to Byrness
Distance: (15 miles / 24km)
This part of the walk will take you across several miles of heather moorlands before passing through Conifer Forests, and reaching the village of Byrness via Blakehopeburnhaugh.
Stage Seventeen: Byrness to Kirk Yetholm
Distance: (26 miles / 42km)
Get ready for the longest day with the ultimate climax. Climbing over moorlands, be ready to navigate this lonely and long section of the walk. Eventually you will drop down across the Cheviot Fells to Kirk Yetholm – a village nestled on the Scottish Border.