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I have walked the Pennine Way twice. The first time was over 30 years ago, south to north. This was before there were flagstones along a lot off the difficult parts of the route.

This post is the second time I walked the Pennine Way, which was in 2012 with my two eldest children. This trip was all before I started this blog, so I hadn’t kept a full diary of the walk. We will be walking it again in the summer of 2020 as a family and will update the blog then. Please follow me on Twitter for updates.

Recommended reading: Cicerone The Pennine Way (includes route map booklet) and for fun, I recommend Barry Pilton One Man And His Bog.

The route

The Pennine Way is 268 miles from Edale, in Derbyshire, going north through the Yorkshire Dales, Northumberland National Park, with a few miles along Hadrian’s Wall and crosses the Cheviot Hills to end at Kirk Yetholm, just over the Scottish border.

We walked it the other way around, from Kirk Yetholm to Edale. We were lucky with the weather and walked the length of the trail in 18 days. Our accommodation was a mixture of wild camping, campsites, bunkhouses, a B&B and youth hostel.

1st camp on White Law in the Cheviot hills
The Cheviot Hills
The Cheviot Hills
Mountain Refuge Hut in the distance on the Cheviot Hills
The border fence between Scotland and England on the Cheviot Hills

The Cheviots

We were lucky with the weather on the Cheviots and it was a lovely walk over them. It was a little bit boggy in places but still enjoyable. The last time I walked this section of the Pennine Way was in thick cloud without views and it rained for two whole days. Miserable.

2nd camp on the Cheviot Hills near the Roman Camp
View back into Scotland
View ahead into England
Long walk through Kielder Forest

Kielder Forest

The route through Kielder Forest looks like a boring track walk but it was nice to be on easier walking, covering the ground quickly. On a long distance hike this can be quite satisfying, being that bit closer to your intended destination.

Campsite in Bellingham

We took it easy in Bellingham, enjoying a pub meal that evening and a lazy start with a big cooked breakfast in the cafe in the morning. Meals like these make long distance walking well worth doing.

Hadrian’s Wall

I think allowing time for children to play is crucial for their enjoyment of long distance walks.

Camped on the way up Cross Fell
Cross Fell
Cross country from Knock Fell to High Cup Nick

We decided not to descend to Dufton and climb back out again. We had enough food, so we stayed high and made our own path from Knock Fell to High Cup Nick.

High Cup Nick
Camping next to Maize Beck

Years later this is still one of my favourite nights camping with my eldest two children. It was a lovely peaceful spot and they played in that river for hours, laughing the whole time.

Birkdale
Cauldron Snout
Climb down beside Cauldron Snout
Only a short section of path beside the river Tees was like this.
High Force waterfall

We really enjoyed walking beside the river Tees all day. The path is good but isn’t that close to the river all the time.

Tan Hill Pub

Tan Hill

We arrived at the Tan Hill pub to find it pack with bikers. We struggled to find space to camp and have a meal inside but were made very welcome and had a good time. There was a great atmosphere in and around the pub, helped by the good weather.

Children playing in the river
Bunk House
Pen-y-ghent
Malham Cove
Gargrave
Stoodley Pike Monument
Crowden Youth Hostel
Torside Reservoir
Kinder Downfall
Kinder Scout
Kinder Scout
Vale of Edale

Summary

The Pennine Way is not the boggy mess it used to be. Much of the path is now flagstones. It is also well supported with accommodation and shops. However, there are some sections where carrying a few days’ food and wild camping does save leaving the main route.

The route is often remote and exposed, so a map, compass, good quality boots and wet weather gear are essential.

We all enjoyed the walk and found it varied and interesting. I am even planning on walking it again in 2020. I had walked it before, it in the 1990s. Next time I will keep a full diary to post.

Not on my Gear List but I wish I’d brought one of these waterproof phones years ago, for convenience and safety, especially with kids. I could not think of doing any of my long distance walks without my waterproof phone. Read my review of the GPS and mapping here and My Ulefone Amor 3W phone review.

Further Reading

I recommend reading: Cicerone The Pennine Way (includes route map booklet) and just for a laugh, Barry Pilton One Man And His Bog.

Barry Pilton’s book also appears on my list of 9 inspiring books about the outdoors.

My 11 Wild Camping Rules

Other walks with children: Boudicca Way, Isle of Wight coast path, Weavers Way, Cumbria Way

Wildwalkinguk is a blog run by myself and my wife in our spare time, and we pay for its running costs ourselves. We do have some Amazon affiliate links and adverts on the site. If you click on these adverts or links and buy what you need (it doesn’t have to be the item we’ve linked to), the company will pay a small commission to us. This money goes towards the costs of hosting the blog. We would be extremely grateful if you could consider using our links when you next need to buy something from our advertisers. Alternatively, you can buy us a coffee here. Thank you so much for your support. Mark and Emma.

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