The Pennine Bridleway was created with equestrians and mountain bikers in mind. Following historical routes used for hundreds of years it offers a historical tour of the mighty Pennine Hills. Explore the Pennine Bridleway for three days, a week or even longer. Find inspiration for your walking adventure using our suggested itineraries, or select one of our bookable itineraries which are highlighted with a star.
Find useful facts and learn more about the Pennine Bridleway below. Select the blue tabs below for more details.
The Pennine Bridleway is a 205 miles (330 Km) long National Trail running through the Pennine hills from Derbyshire to Cumbria. It has been specially designed for horse riders, and is also great for mountain bikers and walkers. The route was opened in stages with the full 205 mile route opened by Martin Clunes in June 2012.
The Trail includes 2 large loops. The first is the Mary Towneley Loop in the South Pennines that was the first section of the Trail to open back in 2002. This is 47 miles long and makes a great weekend’s walk or ride although some mountain bikers like to try and do it in a day! The 2nd Loop is the 10 mile Settle Loop in the Yorkshire Dales. This makes an excellent days walk or horse ride and can be extended by using the bridleway network to take in the village of Malham too.
The Pennine Bridleway is not the same as the Pennine Way; it follows a different route and has been designed especially for use by horse-riders and cyclists.
The route runs through the Pennines so expect hills and changeable weather!
The route follows a variety of surfaces including minor roads, aggregate tracks, grassed stone tracks, stone setts and worn causey flags. Some of these have been newly created specifically for the Pennine Bridleway but some are ancient highways such as drovers roads or packhorse trails that have been in use for centuries.
The National Trail is very well way-marked so following the route is easy. But it is always a good idea to take a guidebook or map.
The best time to complete the Trail is April to October, when the weather is most favourable.
The Pennine Bridleway is the only National Trail specifically designed to be used by equestrians although since the idea for the route was conceived mountain biking has really taken off and the Trail offers a fantastic challenge for cyclists too. The Trail provides an amazing long distance, largely off-road ride/walk through the Pennines following old drove roads, packhorse routes and new sections of bridleway. The route passes through varied and beautiful countryside following a succession of different types of tracks and surfaces. It is by no means easy but well worth the challenge and completing any or all of the route will provide a real sense of achievement.
Highlights of the Trail include the flora and fauna in the vibrant, clean and green Chee Dale Nature Reserve; stunning views over the Kinder plateau either side of the exhilarating yet peaceful Roych Clough (one of Britain’s classic mountain bike rides); panoramic views of the Pennines and valleys in Calderdale, Rochdale and Lancashire; the 6 compartmented water trough at Mankinholes where packhorse ponies stopped for refreshment; the Rochdale Canal.
New trails link with old to zig zag up, down and across the Lancashire moors on route to the village of Wycoller with its ancient packhorse bridge. The north Lancashire stretch offers a more pastoral scene and a bit of a breather before reaching the Dales. The Yorkshire Dales section features classic limestone landscapes, including great views of the nationally important Malham Tarn and the peaks of Ingleborough and Whernside; from Dales villages to remote open uplands via enclosed grassy tracks and wide drove roads with glimpses of limestone pavements, impressive viaducts on the Settle to Carlisle railway, and a prizewinning new bridge. The views just keep coming once up on Lady Anne’s Highway with views along the Mallerstang valley and a final push from the High Dolphinsty to the Cumbrian village of Ravenstonedale.
This National Trail passes through the very best landscapes – places you may want to explore for several days at a time. From cosy country inns to characterful cottages, we’ve got your accommodation near the Pennine Bridleway covered. You can find accommodation along the trail by using our interactive map.
Discover reminders of the packhorses and drovers who passed this way leaving behind beautiful bridges and water troughs and wayside inns. Later reservoirs and waterways add variety and interest to the landscape.
Feeling inspired? Build a bespoke itinerary and start planning your visit to this great National Trail trail here.