About the Trail
What is the Pennine Bridleway?
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.
How long does it take to complete the Trail?
Derbyshire to the Mary Towneley Loop is approximately a 5 day horse ride/walk. The Mary Towneley Loop is usually a 3 day horse ride/walk. From the Mary Towneley Loop to Cumbria is approximately 6 days walking/riding. Cycling the route can take anything between 1 and 14+ days depending on fitness, motivation and whether or not you stop to take in the scenery.
- Derbyshire to Mary Towneley Loop – 72 miles
- The shorter, eastern section of the Mary Towneley Loop is 18m (the whole loop is 47 miles)
- From the top of the Mary Towneley Loop to the start of the Settle Loop is 34 miles
- From the start of the Settle Loop to the end of the trail is 50 miles.
If the trail is travelled from one end to the other, without circling the two loops, the total length is 174 miles (280km).
How hard is it?
The route runs through the Pennines so expect hills and changeable weather! The most southerly section follows the High Peak Trail, a reclaimed railway line where the surface is relatively level but after this there are more changes (and challenges) in gradient and surface. The South Pennine valleys (crossed by the Mary Towneley Loop) are particularly steep.
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 route is not a particularly fast route for horse riders due to the stoney nature of some of the tracks however there are still opportunities to canter.
As the route progresses northwards through the Yorkshire Dales it becomes more remote and the settlements are fewer so Trail users should be sure to carry to supplies and be prepared for all weather conditions.
Exploring the Trail
How do I get to the Pennine Bridleway?
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/buses carry bikes and some restrict the number they will carry.
You can find up-to-date public transport information including a journey planner at www.traveline.info
Where can I stay on the Trail?
There is a good choice of accommodation close to the Trail and it can be viewed here.
The area is popular and accommodation can book up quickly in peak season so we recommend that you book it well in advance.
Can I camp along the Trail?
There are plenty of campsites along the Trail and they can be viewed here. If you plan to camp please note it is not legal to wild camp in England or Wales – you will need to stay on official campsites.
Can I get my bags carried or my accommodation booked?
What is the best time of year to walk/ride on the Trail?
The best time to complete the Trail is April to October, when the weather is most favourable. However the route itself can be steep and exposed, so be prepared, especially if you are planning a journey of a day or more.
Which direction should I walk/ride it in?
Most people start in the south. The southern section of the Trail offers an easier and gentler start to a journey and the National Trail handbook for the Derbyshire to the South Pennine section and the Cycling Guide for the Mary Towneley Loop to Cumbria section are both written heading south to north.
What should I take with me?
We recommend that you take a map and/or guidebook with you, or a copy of the walk leaflet if you are doing a shorter walk. You may also find a compass useful.
If you are walking/riding solo you may want to tell somewhere where you are going as there can be mobile black spots along the Trail. Ensure your phone is fully charged before setting off.
Weather in the UK can be changeable so it’s wise to be prepared. You’ll need good footwear, waterproofs and warm layers. Take plenty of water and just in case, pack a few plasters for your feet. In the summer you may need sun cream.
If you are cycling the Trail make sure you carry a puncture repair kit, spare inner tubes and brake blocks.
If you are riding the Trail we recommend that you carry a horse boot in case your horse loses a shoe. It is also worth carrying a collapsible bucket – there are troughs and streams but access to water in some places can be tricky.
Will I have mobile phone and internet access?
Phone reception can be patchy in the Pennines, don’t rely on being able to use your phone to help you navigate.
Wi-Fi is available at some accommodation and pubs/café’s along the route.
Is there signage on the Cotswold Way?
The UK is unique in having a network of paths that the public can use, this is the Public Rights of Way network. You can see these paths on Ordnance Survey maps.
National Trails are signed with an acorn symbol and/or the Trail name which you will see on stiles, gates and signposts. This is the symbol used by all the English and Welsh National Trails.
As you are walking/riding along the Trail you will also see waymarkers pointing to other paths. You can use the public rights of way network to leave the Trail to explore places of interest, reach your accommodation and find places to eat and drink.
You will often find a coloured arrow on signs which indicates the status of that section of path. The most common are yellow arrows which are footpaths and blue which are bridleways.
Can I download a GPX file?
You can download a GPX file of the whole Trail here.
Maps, Guidebooks and Merchandise
Can I get a guidebook and map for the Trail?
The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the National Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.
Can I get a certificate if I complete the Trail?