A Walker’s Journal by Anthony Linick
The Ramblers Association defines the Pennine Way as a challenging route of some 268 miles. For a truly enjoyable outcome, therefore, some detailed planning is required. You may wish to do just a few days at a time or to divide the task into week-long segments. Only the most hardy will want to do it all in one go, but if you do fall into the latter category you will need to be in really good shape, have at least three weeks to spare, and you must know that your expenses will be considerable – walking isn’t the cheap holiday option anymore.
Some walkers prefer to join a group; this takes a lot of the anxiety out of the effort since you will have a map-reading leader with you at all times and your bags may be ferried forward for you as well. Even if you are walking independently the latter service is available on the Pennine Way and a quick reference to the PW on the Internet will reveal the names of companies who will book your accommodation as well as transfer your bags. The Internet will also reveal the latest guidebook and Ordnance Survey map information. I would say that the distances between points of accommodation may be greater on the PW than on any of the other long-distance routes in the UK – I doubt that I could do these distances anymore and my walking companions would long ago have abandoned me.
The Pennine Way is surprisingly remote for a route that follows the spine of the nation, but at least the southern starting point, Edale, is served by trains on the Manchester-Sheffield line. There are also trains either on the route or nearby at Mardsen, Hebden Bridge, Haworth, Gargrave, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Appleby, and Hexham. Buses are also available from these spots and from Hawes, Keld, Middleton, Dufton, Alston, Twice Brewed, Bellingham, Byrness and the northern terminus, Kirk Yetholm. Incidentally, I have met walkers doing the route from north to south, though most guidebooks (including updated versions of Wainwright’s pioneering guide) have it the other way round. And most walkers will find it easier to get to Edale than to Kirk Yetholm.
If I were to split the walk into three trips of approximately one week each I would walk from Edale to Horton, Horton to Alston and Alston to Kirk Yetholm. The first of these requires seven days of walking and totals some 95 miles. The second is a walk of seven and a half days and totals some 92 miles. The last is a walk of six days and covers a strenuous 90 miles. Many other variations are possible, depending on how much time you have. It took me six trips to complete the route – so don’t give up if weather or sore feet distort your plans. Incidentally, the measurement of Pennine Way miles, first charted so dependably by Alfred Wainwright, is accurate only for miles on the Way itself. If you have to leave the route for any reason, for accommodation or additional sightseeing especially, the number of miles walked begins to have its serious variations. This will explain why some of my figures seem a bit longer than expected.
How to begin the search for accommodation and many other relevant topics that the Pennine Way walker may need to know are covered in detail in my A Walker’s Alphabet: Adventures on the long-distance footpaths of Great Britain – published in 2010 and available from the publisher at www.authorhouse.co.uk or from www.authorhouse.com or from www.amazon.co.uk or from www.amazon.com. – so I won’t repeat this information now. But don’t forget the youth hostels, which, in spite of their name, cater to visitors of all ages. Among hostels near the Pennine Way are Crowden, Mankinholes, Langdon Beck, Alston and Byrness.
Finally, if you choose to add a reading of my own trip journals as preparation for your own adventure on the Pennine Way, I need to remind you that I did the first five stages last. If you want to read an account that begins at the beginning of the route itself then start with Day 17 (from Edale) and when you have read through Day 21 (to Gargrave) return to Day 1 (from Gargrave) and continue through Day 16 (to Kirk Yetholm.) You can always let me know how you got on by leaving word on the Contact Page.
Day 1: Gargrave to Malham – 7.5 miles
Day 2: Malham to Horton-in-Ribblesdale – 15 miles
Day 3: Horton-in Ribblesdale to Hardrow – 16 miles
Day 4: Hardrow to Keld – 12.5 miles
Day 5: Keld to Bowes – 14 miles
Day 6: Bowes to Middleton-in-Teesdale – 12.5 miles
Day 7: Middleton-in-Teesdale to Langdon Beck – 9.5 miles
Day 8: Langdon Beck to Dufton – 14 miles
Day 9: Dufton to Garrigill – 16 miles
Day 10: Garrigill to Alston – 4.5 miles
Day 11: Alston to Lambley – 12 miles
Day 12: Lambley to Twice Brewed – 14.5 miles
Day 13: Twice Brewed to Bellingham – 16 miles
Day 14: Bellingham to Byrness – 16 miles
Day 15: Byrness to Usway Ford Farm – 16 miles
Day 16: Usway Ford Farm to Kirk Yetholm – 14 miles
Day 17: Edale to Crowden-in-Longdendale – 16 miles
Day 18: Crowden-in-Longdendale to Marsden – 11 miles
Day 19: Marsden to Mankinholes – 17 miles
Day 20: Mankinholes to Ponden Hall – 15 miles
Day 21: Ponden Hall to Gargrave – 17 miles