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National Trail: East Midlands/Northwest and Northeast England/Yorkshire/Cumbria/Scotland

Pennine Way National Trail

Edale to Kirk Yetholm 429km/268 miles CHALLENGING

The Pennine Way, following a high and wild course along the backbone of England from the Peak District to the Scottish borders, is one of Britain's best known and toughest long distance trails.

The route was first proposed in a 1935 newspaper article by Tom Stephenson, walkers' champion and for many years Secretary of the Ramblers' Association. Following ongoing pressure from the Ramblers, the Pennine Way Association and other walkers' groups, it was designated as Britain's first official long distance footpath in 1951, under new post-war legislation. The route finally opened in April 1965, thirty years after Stephenson's original article. It celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2005.

For all but the southernmost 24km of its course, the Way now forms part of European footpath E2.

Connects with Brontë Way, Calderdale Way, Central Scottish Way, Coast to Coast Walk, Dales Way, Eden Way, Hadrian's Wall Path, Haworth-Hebden Bridge Walk, Isaac's Tea Trail, Kirklees Way, Limestone Way (Derbyshire, via footpath link Edale to Castleton), Medlock Valley Way, Midshires Way (via Pennine Bridleway or Trans Pennine Trail), Oldham Way (E2 Dover Branch), Pennine Bridleway, Ribble Way, St Cuthberts' Way (E2), South Tyne Trail, Teesdale Way (E2 Harwich Branch), Todmorden Centenary Walk, Trans Pennine Trail (E8), Tyne Walk (see South Tyne Trail)

Local authorities Bradford, Calderdale, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Durham, Kirklees, North Yorkshire, Northumberland, Oldham, Rochdale, Scottish Borders

Parks and countryside North Pennines AONB, Northumberland National Park, Peak District National Park, Yorkshire Dales National Park

Walking Advice | Accommodation and Practical Info | Maps, Books, Links

Long Distance Paths | Alphabetical Index | Regional Index
 East Midlands | NW England | Yorkshire | Cumbria | NE England | Scotland

Advice on walking the route

The Pennine Way traverses a wide variety of terrain, from the gritstone moorlands of Derbyshire to the springy limestone turf of the Yorkshire Dales. Natural features include thundering waterfalls, huge limestone cliffs and large areas of blanket bogland. However, the popularity of this National Trail, and the fact that many people tackle certain sections as one-day walks or part of a circular walk, has led to problems.  Some places become overcrowded at peak times, and serious erosion has occurred, especially on the slopes of Kinder Scout and Pen-y-Ghent.  Walkers should consequently approach the route with sensitivity.

The route is traditionally walked from south to north, from Edale to Kirk Yetholm, and most guidebooks describe it this way. Although the route is officially 412km in length, you will probably walk a little further in total (there are several small sections where diversions and alternative routes exist). Most people take two to three weeks to complete the walk; the official guide estimates 19 days as a reasonable figure. But of course you can take as long as you want, and some people prefer to walk the route in leisurely weekend sections over many months.

The Way is only intermittently waymarked with signposts and cairns, so you will need a guidebook and maps (with a compass to aid routefinding). Most Pennine Way veterans say that the toughest stages are the first and last: the notorious peat bogs of Kinder Scout, Bleaklow and Black Hill, and the bare and boggy final stretch through the Cheviot Hills to Kirk Yetholm.

In between, there is firmer walking through the dramatic limestone country around Malham, followed by long, hard slogs up Fountains Fell, Pen-y-Ghent and Cross Fell. Here it is airy, expansive and invigorating walking. The trail passes through small market towns and remote Pennine villages, as well as beautiful valleys such as Swaledale and Wensleydale. The highest point is Cross Fell at 893m/2,930ft. Approaching Scotland the Way follows Hadrian's Wall.

Unless you are an experienced long-distance walker you should not tackle the Pennine Way alone. Make sure you are fit by walking as much as possible beforehand, and it is important that your boots are broken in and you are used to a weighty rucksack. Be prepared for the rigours of hillwalking: warm and wet-weather clothing is a necessity, as well as sufficient food and drink, a first aid kit and so on. For more details, see the various guidebooks and our practical advice section.

In areas where erosion has occurred, it is particularly important that you follow the waymarked route, observing any signposted diversions.  Avoid making short cuts, since this can often cause even more erosion, and keep off reseeded patches.  For more on the issues of footpath erosion, see our factsheet.

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Accommodation and practical information

There are B&Bs and campsites along the route and it is also particularly well-served by youth hostels, though you are strongly advised to book in advance, especially in summer. You can search for B&B accommodation in our database using the link below, or see the accommodation and transport guide listed under Maps, guides and contacts.

Click to begin your search Click here to find bed & breakfast accommodation on this path.

Luggage Carrying and Accommodation Booking

Tourist Information Centres

  • Alston and Appleby in Westmoreland: see Cumbria
  • Bellingham 01434 220616
  • Edale 01433 670207
  • Glossop 01457 855920
  • Haltwhistle 01434 322002
  • Hawes 01969 667450
  • Haworth 01535 642329
  • Hebden Bridge 01422 843831
  • Hexham 01434 605225
  • Holmfirth 01484 687603
  • Horton in Ribblesdale 01729 860333
  • Malham (seasonal) 01729 830363
  • Settle 01729 825192
  • Skipton 01756 792809
  • Once Brewed 01434 344396

Holiday providers include Pack and Go, YHA Booking Bureau

Public Transport 

  • Edale: trains to Manchester or Sheffield (change for London and other connections to major cities), buses to Snake Inn, Glossop, Castleton, Sheffield.
  • Hayfield: buses to Glossop, Stockport, Marple, New Mills, Whaley Bridge, Buxton.
  • Snake Inn: buses to Castleton, Edale, Glossop
  • Crowden: buses to Glossop, Liverpool, Sheffield
  • Standedge Cutting: buses to Oldham, Huddersfield, Marsden.
  • Marsden: trains to Manchester, Huddersfield and Leeds
  • Windy Hill: buses to Oldham, Halifax
  • White House Inn: buses to Rochdale, Halifax
  • Hebden Bridge: frequent trains connecting Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds, buses to Todmorden, Burnley, Rochdale, Halifax, Keighley, Haworth, Blackshaw Head
  • Blackshaw Head Buses to Hebden Bridge
  • Haworth is on the private Worth Valley Railway to Keighley and Oxenhope:; also buses to Oxenhope, Bradford.
  • Ponden: buses to Colne, Keighley
  • Colne: trains to Preston
  • Lothersdale: buses to Skipton
  • Thornton: buses to Barnoldswick, Burnley, Skipton, East Marton
  • East Marton: buses to Skipton, Thornton
  • Gargrave: trains to Leeds, Lancaster, Carlisle; buses to Ingleton, Skipton, Preston, Malham, Leeds, Airton
  • Airton: buses to Malham, Skipton, Gargrave
  • Malham: buses to Airton, Skipton, Gargrave
  • Horton in Ribblesdale is on the scenic Settle and Carlisle line connecting Leeds and Carlisle; also buses to Settle, Ingleton, Keighley, Hawes, Skipton, Richmond, Ribblehead, Keld.
  • Ribblehead: Settle and Carlisle trains as Horton; buses to Horton, Hawes, Keld
  • Hawes: buses to Horton, Ribblehead, Thwaite, Kendal, Garsdale, Sedbergh, Leybrun, Northallerton, Darlington, Richmond, Reeth, Leeds, Leyburn, Grassington
  • Thwaite: buses to Hawes, Keld, Richmond
  • Keld: buses to Thwaite, Hawes, Richmond, Leeds, Leyburn, Skipton, Ribblehead, Darlington
  • God's Bridge: buses to Kirkby Stephen, Barnard Castle
  • Bowes: as God's Bridge
  • Middleton in Teesdale: buses to Barnard Castle, Langdon Beck
  • Langdon Beck: buses to Middleton
  • Dufton: buses to Penrith, Appleby
  • Alston: buses to Kirkhauge, Slaggyford, Penrith, Keswick, Hexham, Newcastle, Nenthead, Fernhaugh, Bampton, Carlisle, Haltwhistle, Durham
  • Kirkhauge; buses to Alston, Slaggyford, Nenthead, Carlisle, Haltwhistle
  • Slaggyford: buses to Kirkhauge, Alston, Nenthead, Carlisle, Haltwhistle
  • Greenhead: buses to Haltwhistle, Once Brewed, Carlisle, Newcastle, Gilsland, Housesteads
  • Once Brewed: Buses to Greenhead, Carlisle, Newcastle, Bowness
  • Bellingham: Buses to Hexham, Otterburn
  • Byrness: Buses to Otterburn, Newcastle, Edinburgh
  • Kirk Yetholm: Buses to Kelso, from where a further bus can be caught to Coldstream and Berwick, for trains to Edinburgh and London.

Some bus services can be infrequent. A more detailed public transport guide is included in the accommodation guide listed below. For more on finding out about public transport, see Public Transport for Walkers.

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Maps, guides and contacts

Explorer maps

Landranger maps

The Way is shown on these maps.

Strip maps of whole route

  • Pennine Way South Edale to Horton-in-Ribblesdale ISBN 1 85137 431 0.
    Pennine Way Central Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Greenhead ISBN 1 85137 426 4.
    Pennine Way North Greenhead to Kirk Yetholm ISBN 1 85137 421 3
    Harvey £9.95 each. Clear colour waterproof maps at around 1:40 000 with additional practical information. Each covers roughly a week's walking and starts and ends near public transport. [2005]
  • The Pennine Way Part one - Edale to Teesdale ISBN 1 871149 01 2.
    The Pennine Way Part two - Teesdale to Kirk Yetholm
    ISBN 1 871149 02 9.
    Footprint £3.50 each. Approx 1:63 360 scale with additional notes on features and facilities along the route. Last updated 1988, based on old out-of-copyright Ordnance Survey maps.
  • Pennine Way strip map, Explorer digital map on CD-ROM. memory-map £99.95.

Other maps

  • Pennine Way Profile and Geology Map. Useful leaflet showing the profile of the route to help identify climbs and descents, along with a map of the underlying geology. Free from National Trail Office (below).

Walking guides

  • Pennine Way South Edale - Bowes by Tony Hopkins, ISBN 1 85410 851 4. Aurum Press £12.99 + p&p. Order here!
    Official National Trail Guide with OS 1:25,000 map extracts.
  • Pennine Way North Bowes - Kirk Yetholm by Tony Hopkins, ISBN 1 85410 962 6
    Official National Trail Guide with OS 1:25,000 map extracts. Aurum Press £12.99  + p&p. Order here!
  • The Pennine Way from Edale to Kirk Yetholm by Martin Collins, ISBN 1 85284 386 1. Cicerone £10.
    Compact guide to whole route with OS 1:50 000 map extracts, route descriptions and background information. Describes entire route in one volume.
  • Pennine Way Edale to Kirk Yetholm by Edward de la Billière and Keith Carter, ISBN 1 873756 57 7. Trailblazer Publications £9.99.
    Detailed compact publication with route description, extensive background notes, clear sketch maps, accommodation suggestions, public transport information. Describes entire route in one volume. [2004]
  • Outdoor Handbuch England: Pennine Way by Ueli Hintermeister, ISBN 3 89392 164 8. Conrad Stein EUR12.90.
    German-language pocket guide to the Way with accommodation listings and simple maps.

Other useful publications

  • Pennine Way Accommodation and Public Transport Guide. Free booklet. Order here!
  • The Pennine Way by Tony Hopkins, ISBN 1 903506 13 1. Zymurgy £16.99.
    Not to be confused with Hopkins' official guide, this is a armchair book that celebrates the Way in words, photos and drawings, a handsome hardback volume published in the 40th anniversary year [2005].
  • Pennine Way Companion by A Wainwright, ISBN 0 7112 2235 5. Frances Lincoln £11.99.
    Classic description by the renowned hillwalking author, in familiar hand-lettered style with hand-drawn maps and illustrations. First published in 1968, with the current edition a reprint of the last revision by Chris Jesty in 1994. Perfect for fans of Wainwright and the Pennine Way but does not include changes of route to avoid erosion problems, and does include a number of unofficial short cuts, not all of them strictly legal. Should only be used as a practical guide in conjunction with the most recent OS maps or official guide (see above).
  • Pennine Highlights, £1.95 from YHA. Basic booklet covering a shorter, well-loved section of the Way, 122km over 5 days from Hawes to Alston, suitable for staying at youth hostels throughout.
  • Pennine Way Hidden Gems of the Dales: highlights and visitor attractions on the Yorkshire Dales section. Free from National Trail Office (below).

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