Trail Information

The 268 mile (435km) Pennine Way is the oldest, and arguably the most iconic, of England’s National Trails. Starting in the Peak District and stretching north to the Scottish Borders, it is one of the most challenging but rewarding long-distance walking routes and is steeped in history.

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About the Trail

What is the Pennine Way?

The Pennine Way National Trail is a 268 mile (429 km) walking route from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. It crosses some of the finest upland landscapes in England, from the Peak District, through the Yorkshire Dales, across the North Pennines and over Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland to the Cheviots.

It was the very first National Trail opened on 24th April 1965 and remains one of the most famous.

How long does it take to complete the Trail?

You can spend as little or as long as you like walking on the Pennine Way National Trail.

Some people like to walk the full length between Edale and Kirk Yetholm. Others like to spend a week, a few days or even a day at a time taking in spectacular lengths of the route. Most full length walkers allow 16 to 19 days to walk the Way.

The full length of the Pennine Way is 268 miles, but chances are, that if you walk from one end to the other you will walk nearer to 253 miles. The longer length includes both sides of the Bowes Loop, both route options into Kirk Yetholm, the alternative route at High Cup Nick and the detour to the summit of The Cheviot.

How hard is it?

The Trail follows the Pennines – it is hilly and in places remote. Some sections are harder than others. Know your limitations – the first couple of days on the Pennine Way are quite hard and if you are unprepared may be a bit much – do a few weekends hill walking in preparation!

The terrain on the Pennine Way is varied; in some places such as Malham Cove and High Force the paths are smooth and firm, but in others the path may be narrow and uneven or wet and boggy. The length of trail which is still persistently wet is much reduced from what some walkers experienced in the past, but you should be prepared to spend time on at least a few days traversing wet peat bogs. If the weather has been good then you may well get away with dry socks, but it wouldn’t be the Pennine Way if wet socks were no longer a hazard!

Exploring the Trail

How do I get to the Pennine Way?

Both ends of the Pennine Way are accessible by public transport. Edale railway station is about 5 minutes walk from the centre of the village, where the Trail begins. Trains from Manchester and Sheffield stop at Edale.

At the northern end of the Trail, Kirk Yetholm has a bus service to Kelso. Connections can be made onwards from Kelso to all parts of the country and to pick up rail services at Berwick-upon-Tweed.

The closest airport to the start of the Pennine Way is Manchester Airport. You can take a train from Manchester Airport (via Manchester Piccadilly railway station) to Edale.

To return from Kirk Yetholm, you can catch a taxi or bus to Berwick upon Tweed and then catch a train on to Manchester Airport, Newcastle Airport or London.

For information on public transport links along the Trail please click here (pdf).

For detailed rail information please see www.nationalrail.co.uk

You can find up-to-date public transport information including a journey planner at www.traveline.info

Where can I stay on the Trail?

We recommend that you book your accommodation in advance – it’s limited in some areas. You can view accommodation close to the Trail here.

 

Can I camp along the Trail?

There are a number of campsites along the Trail and they can be viewed here.

Wild camping is not legal in England although there is a tradition of backpackers sleeping in the hills and there are a few suitable sites along the Pennine Way. If you do plan to wild camp you must ensure you take all your waste away with you.

Fire is a serious risk in the uplands – be very careful during dry periods to avoid starting an accidental fire on moorland.

Take the opportunity to go to the toilet where they are provided – if you need to go to the toilet in the wild go at least 50m from any water course, excavate a small hole with a walking pole etc. and fill in the hole once you are finished.

Can I get my bags carried or my accommodation booked?

There are several companies that will arrange to move your bags for you, help you plan your trip, or arrange a full package.

You can see baggage handlers here and holiday operators here.

What is the best time of year to walk on the Trail?

The best weather on the Pennine Way is usually from mid May to September, however it can be walked all year round.

Check the weather forecast daily – the Pennines receive around 2.5 metres of precipitation a year and can be windswept. You need to be prepared for hot sun and heavy rain. With wind-chill the temperatures on the summits can be zero even in summer.

Which direction should I walk it in?

It’s best to walk south to north – you get the wind at your back and the official guide book is written in that direction!

What should I take with me?

Keep the weight of your rucsack to a minimum – or alternatively take advantage of one of the baggage carrying services that operate on the Trail.

As a minimum you will need to carry a map and compass and know how to use them. Be properly equipped, take waterproofs and spare warm clothing. Wear robust walking boots. Take an emergency pack including whistle, torch, first aid kit, survival bag and spare rations. Don’t wear denim jeans – they don’t dry if they get wet. Plan your route properly – be aware of escape routes in the event of an accident. Make sure somebody knows your plans.

You should carry sufficient water with you for each day’s requirements – it is strongly advised that if you take water from streams then you should use purification equipment.

Will I have mobile phone and internet access?

Mobile phone reception is patchy at best, don’t rely on your phone to help you navigate. Wi-Fi is available at some accommodation and pubs/cafés along the route.

Is there signage on the Pennine 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 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 bridleway.

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?

Certificates are available from the National Trails Shop.

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Use the Map Filter to see places to visit and where to stay along the Pennine Way. View information on the map by ticking the boxes in the Map Filter.

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