About the Trail
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.
Exploring the Trail
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.
What is special about the Trail?
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.
Manchester Airport is the nearest airport to the southern end of the trail.
Walkers can easily access the Trail by public transport. If you are planning to travel by train or bus with your bike we recommend that you check first – not all trains or buses carry bikes and some restrict the number they will carry.
The nearest rail station to Middleton Top is Cromford, a mile from the start of the High Peak Trail.
At the northern end of the trail the official route ends at the A683 in Ravenstonedale. The nearest train station is on the southern edge of Kirkby Stephen, approximately 6km away. There is an alternative route using public rights of way which will take you directly to Kirkby Stephen (pdf map 1Mb). There is an in-frequent bus service from Ravenstonedale to the train station at Kirkby Stephen, see the Dales Bus website for details.
For detailed rail information please see
www.nationalrail.co.uk or www.thetrainline.com.
There are buses to Middleton Top although if you have a bike you will need to check with the bus operator whether they can take bikes on board.
There is an in-frequent bus service from Ravenstonedale to the train station at Kirkby Stephen, see the Dales Bus website for details.
You can find up-to-date public transport information on www.traveline.info.
By car / horsebox
If you want to leave your car in a public place whilst spending several days walking or cycling on the Trail, we recommend that you inform the local police of your intentions. You may be able to leave your car with your accommodation provider.
There are a number of places along the Trail that are suitable for short stay horsebox parking. These are shown on the interactive map. We don’t recommend that you leave horseboxes overnight in rural car parks. Many of the farmhouse accommodation providers are able to arrange secure horsebox parking – check the accommodation details on the map.
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.