The Pennine Way was England’s first National Trail – established in 1965 after having been suggested by access campaigner Tom Stephenson 20 years earlier. The long-distance walking route follows the ‘spine’ of northern England all the way from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm, just over the Scottish border, a total of 268 miles. Along the way, it passes through some of the remotest hill country in England, including the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales, the North Pennines and the Cheviot Hills.
Walking the Pennine Way south to north, as most people do, hikers enter Cumbria near Cauldron Snout, a waterfall in Upper Teesdale. Crossing high, bleak moorland, they then come to High Cup, one of the most impressive geological features in the Pennines. From here, the route drops to Dufton in the Eden Valley and then climbs back up the western escarpment to Great Dun Fell and Cross Fell, the highest point on the entire trail. After calling in at Garrigill and Alston, walkers follow the River South Tyne north and enter Northumberland to join up with the Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail.
Mike Hartley holds the record for completing the route in the fastest time: two days, 17 hours, 20 minutes and 15 seconds. He ran it in July 1989, forgoing sleep and stopping only twice – for 18 minutes each time. Lesser mortals aim to complete it in roughly 16 to 19 days, stopping overnight in B&Bs, hostels, pubs and campsites alongthe way.
The Pennine Way is accessible only to those on foot; for horse-riders and cyclists, the 205-mile Pennine Bridleway was established in 2012. Following a completely different route to the Pennine Way, this runs from Derbyshire to Cumbria, where it ends near the village of Ravenstonedale in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.