I have walked the Pennine Way three times. The first time was over 30 years ago, south to north. This was before there were flagstones along much of the boggy parts of the route. The third time was in 2020, as part of my Dover to Cape Wrath walk.
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.
Recommended reading: Cicerone The Pennine Way (includes route map booklet).
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.
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.
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.
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.
I think allowing time for children to play is crucial for their enjoyment of long distance walks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Read my review of the GPS and mapping here and my Ulefone Amor tough phone review here.
I recommend reading: Cicerone The Pennine Way (includes route map booklet).
Barry Pilton’s book also appears on my list of 9 inspiring books about the outdoors.
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