Planning a trip on the Pennine Way

Published 29 November 2011. Last modified 24 April 2014

Outside the Border Hotel

So you’re thinking of walking the Pennine Way, eh? Well good for you. It’s certainly an experience and as long as you don’t end up up to your waist in bog (and is there anyone who has walked the whole thing, who doesn’t end up in bog at at least one point?), you’ll probably have a good time.

At 267 miles long it is, however, quite an undertaking to do, especially all in one go, and planning a trip can be hard work so here’s some help and advice.

In this Guide

  1. What is the walk like?
  2. Planning an itinerary
  3. Finding and booking accommodation
  4. Getting to/from the Pennine Way
  5. Guide books and maps
  6. Know how to use a map and compass
  7. And finally, and any questions

What is the walk like?

The state of my boots and new gaiters after all that mud

You may know this already as, after all, the Pennine Way has quite a reputation, but we’ll mention it anyway. The simple fact is that the Pennine Way can be a difficult walk.

It passes through a rather remote and quiet part of the country. There’s lots of hills, plenty of wild moorland, some long distances and the weather can sometimes be awful. And as for the mud and bog… True, a lot of the worse sections are now paved, however it’s one where it’s best to be well equipped, especially in the waterproof department.

That said, it is enjoyable and there’s no doubt that the sense of achievement when you do it is enormous, however it is probably the toughest and most difficult National Trail that England has to offer. If you’re an absolute walking novice, you may wish to try walking a different route first for practise. But then again, you might just want to leap in the deep-end. Just be warned – a walk in the park this is not.

You can read my own experiences on the Pennine Way, or browse an online map of the route. Not put off by that? Excellent. You’re half way there then!

Planning an itinerary

The last pub until Greenhead!

First, lets look at when to walk. From my experience, the Pennine Way is best walked May to September. You can walk it earlier or later, however the weather conditions may not make it a fun experience – even in the summer conditions can be bad underfoot. Walking in late March or early April also runs the risk of snow, especially at the north of the route. Walking during the summer months will give you a more enjoyable walk.

You’ll need around three weeks to walk the whole thing. It’s not easy to offer set itineraries, as there are several sections which have lots of accommodation options. As such, I have listed a number of “sections” below – some long and some short. The longer ones are day walks, whilst the shorter sections can be either combined in various ways.

Each of the locations listed below has accommodation and a pub unless otherwise noted. Many stops are listed as having limited accommodation however there may be B&Bs/pubs in nearby villages which will be able to pick you up and return you to your walk if you ask them nicely.

Locations with a railway station are marked with a *.

Section Guide
Section From To Distance Notes
Miles Km
1 Edale * Crowdon 16 25¾ [1]
2 Crowdon Standedge 11 17¾
3 Standedge Hebden Bridge * 15 24
4 Hebden Bridge * Ponden 10¾ 17¼ [2]
5 Ponden Thornton in Craven 11½ 18½ [3]
6 Thornton in Craven Gargrave *
7 Gargrave * Malham 10½
8 Malham Horton in Ribblesdale * 14¼ 23
9 Horton in Ribblesdale * Hawes 13¾ 22½
10 Hawes Keld 12¼ 19¾ [4]
11 Keld Tan Hill Inn 4 [5]
12 Tan Hill Inn Middleton in Teesedale 16½ 26½ [6]
13 Middleton in Teesdale Dufton 19 30½ [7]
14 Dufton Garrigill 16 25¾
15 Garrigill Alston 4
16 Alston Slaggyford 5 7 [8]
17 Slaggyford Greenhead 11 17¾
18 Greenhead Once Brewed 10½ [9]
19 Once Brewed Bellingham 14½ 23¼
20 Bellingham Byrness 14¾ 23¾ [10]
21 Byrness Kirk Yetholm (via the Cheviot) 27½ 44¼
21 Byrness Kirk Yetholm (avoiding the Cheviot) 25 40¼
  1. Very limited facilities at Crowden. For more details, see our Accommodation and Services at Crowden section
  2. Limited accommodation close to the trail at Ponden, available at Ponden House and The Old Silent Inn. Alternative accommodation can be found two miles away in the village of Haworth.
  3. No pub or shop at Thornton-in-Craven. Facilities can be found in nearby Earby.
  4. Keld is also a principle stopover on the Coast to Coast and because of this accommodation in the village can often be very short supply. However Thwaite also has some B&Bs and a hotel and is still on the Pennine Way. Alternatively you may wish to push on to the Tan Hill Inn.
  5. For a totally amazing and one off experience, stay in the most remote pub in Britain. It’s amazing. Just make sure you book in advance.
  6. This can be also be broken up by walking the Bowes Loop option.
  7. Penrith station is 16 miles from Dufton and accessible by taxi.
  8. Slaggyford has limited accommodation and no shop. There is also no pub in Slaggyford village, however the Kirkstyle Inn is a mile away.
  9. Although a short section, this goes along Hadrian’s Wall and it is well worth spending a day on this section and taking in the museums and sights.
  10. Limited accommodation, no pub and no shop. YHA Byrness has a small shop.

Breaking the walk up for several trips

If you want to do it all in one go you’re going to need about three weeks (and don’t forget to include rest days in your planning!) however if you’re not able to dedicate that amount of time it is possible to split it up in to several sections.

Public transport connections are better in the southern section of the route meaning you can chunk things up more easily, and the following are some suggestions where good public transport is available – more information on public transport is detailed below.

Accommodation and services at Crowden

There are two places on the Pennine Way that pose difficulties for Pennine Way walkers. Unfortunately one is on the end of the first day, at Crowden.

The only sources of accommodation at Crowden are The Old House B&B and Crowden Campsite. The YHA hostel at Crowden unfortunately closed in March 2014.

Alternative accommodation can be found in nearby Glossop, and the towns and villages nearby. Glossop is a three and a half mile walk, which is not ideal at the end of your first day of walking.

Crowden is served by a National Express coach which stops at Crowden at 18:01 daily. This coach stops at the Gun Inn at Hollingworth, where you can connect with local bus services for Glossop or nearby towns and villages. The journey to Glossop takes approximately 50 minutes. In the morning the return coach is at 09:40 from the Gun Inn, arriving at Crowden at 09:50. More information can be found at Traveline North West.

To be honest, this is far from ideal and you may want to consider a local taxi. Some local accommodation providers will also pick up and drop off Pennine Way walkers, however not all will.

The Bowes Loop Option

After passing the Tan Hill Inn, there are two options for the Pennine Way. One is to keep on the main route, but the other is to follow the Bowes Loop. After several rural sections with few facilities, many will welcome the opportunity to village of Bowes which has accommodation, pub and a small shop.

The Bowes Loop
Section From To Distance
Miles Km
12a Tan Hill Inn Bowes
12b Bowes Middleton in Teesdale 12 19½

Options for breaking up Byrness to Kirk Yetholm

The final section of the Pennine Way is the most difficult to sort accommodation for. The final 25 mile (bit more if you go to the Cheviot) stretch goes past no B&Bs and certainly no pubs.

However the Pennine Way walker does have a number of options:

Note: on some older web pages you may see mention of Uswayford Farm which was a popular stop-over point and slightly closer to the Pennine Way than Barrowburn. However the B&B closed in 2010 when owner Nancy left. There is no longer any accommodation or services at Uswayford Farm.

The hostel based itinerary

There was a time when you could do the entire Pennine Way spending pretty much every night under the roof of the YHA, however hostel closures and sell-offs means that’s no longer possible. Stepping into the gap have been a number of independent bunk barns, many associated with local pubs which means most – but not all – of the trail is still covered.

It’s probably wise to try and book each hostel a few days in advance – or at least book it on the morning you intend to arrive there. Don’t forget that YHA hostels can book beds for you anywhere in the YHA network.

Most hostels and bunk barns are very often (but not always) well spaced for a days walking and an itinerary is listed below. Note some are self-catering only, however bedding is always provided.

All distances shown below are approximate and are the distance travelled along the Pennine Way.

The Hostel Based Itinerary
Section From To Distance Notes
Miles Km
1 Edale
(YHA Edale 1 mile away)
Crowdon
No hostel. See our Crowden section
16 25¾
2 Crowdon Mankinholes, near Stoodley Pike
(YHA Mankinholes 1¼ mile away)
21 34 [1]
3 Mankinholes Pondon
(YHA Haworth 2½ miles away)
16 25¾
4 Ponden Thornton in Craven
(YHA Earby 1½ miles away)
11½ 18½  
5 Thornton in Craven Malham
(YHA Malham)
11 25¾  
6 Malham Horton in Ribblesdale
(Golden Lion Bunkroom)
14¼ 23  
7 Horton in Ribblesdale Hawes
(YHA Hawes)
13¾ 22½ [2]
8 Hawes Tan Hill Inn
(Tan Hill Inn)
16¼ 26 [3]
9 Tan Hill Inn Forest in Teesdale
(YHA Langdon Beck 1 mile away)
24½ 39½ [4]
10 Forest in Teesdale Dufton
(YHA Dufton)
8 13  
11 Dufton Alston
(YHA Alston)
20 32¼  
12 Alston Greenhead
(Greenhead Independent Hostel)
11 24¾  
13 Greenhead Once Brewed
(YHA Once Brewed)
10½  
14 Once Brewed Bellingham
(YHA Bellingham)
14½ 23¼ [5]
15 Bellingham Byrness
(YHA Byrness)
14¾ 23¾ [6]
16 Byrness Kirk Yetholm
(SYHA Kirk Yetholm)
25 40¼ [7]
  1. To break up in to two days, stop overnight in a B&B near Standedge.
  2. Alternatively, there is also a bunk house at the Green Dragon Inn, a mile or so away at Hardraw
  3. Alternatively Keld Bunkhouse is available four miles earlier, however it only has only ten beds and is liable to be full of people walking the Coast to Coast. The Tan Hill Inn does have more room and is a more reliable option for the Pennine Way walker. Advance booking of either is highly advisable.
  4. For more sensible walking distances, break at the town of Middleton in Teesdale and stay in a B&B.
  5. Small YHA affiliated bunkhouse. Booking highly recommended.
  6. A YHA affiliate, also known as Forest View Walkers Inn
  7. You may see references to the closure of Kirk Yetholm hostel. It did close in 2011 however re-opened in August 2012. It’s worth staying in the village at the end, especially as the Border Hotel does excellent food and is a great place to celebrate your achievement.

Note: you may still see references to YHA hostels in Crowden, Keld and Blackton. Crowden is now run by Rotherham Council and only available for group bookings. Keld is now a hotel and Blackton is only available for group hire. Maps may also show other bunkhouses however many have closed, or which are available for only group hire.

The information above is correct October 2013. Corrections, additions and clarifications welcome.

Rest Days

If you’re planning on doing the Pennine Way all in one go you’ll probably want to factor in a rest day or two. The main recommendations are:

Finding and booking accommodation

Arriving at the Tan Hill Inn

The Pennine Way is well served by accommodation providers of all kinds and you should have no trouble in finding somewhere if booking in advance.

There are two main accommodation guides, one published on the official Pennine Way website and the other published by the The Pennine Way Association. The latter only includes accommodation providers who are a member of the Association and so is smaller.

Due to the limited amount of accommodation in some areas it’s advisable to book, however if you don’t want to spend three weeks with a rigid itinerary many people report having few problems just turning up and finding a bed. The Pennine Way is also well served with campsites and camping barns if you prefer to do things that way.

Hostels and bunkbarns

The Pennine Way is amazingly well served by hostels and bunkhouses. A pretty comprehensive list is available in the Hostel Itinerary section above.

Camping

Just walking the Pennine Way not hardcore enough for you? Well why not do it in style and camp?! The Pennine Way is pretty served by campsites, and a number of farms and pubs also offer camping. A full, up to date list of facilities can be found on the Pennine Way website accommodation guide.

The remote countryside for much of the route may appeal to some as perfect for wild camping. However it should be said that conditions on the Pennine Way can often be less than hospitable with plenty of bog and mud to be found, especially in wet weather which means finding a suitable campsite may be difficult. Running water can also be hard to find (unless it’s raining!) Under English law you are not legally allowed to wild camp without permission of the landowner.

Getting to/from the Pennine Way

Sheep at Low Force

Given the fact that this is a walk between Derbyshire and the Scottish Borders chances are that you’re not going to arrive in Edale or Kirk Yetholm by car unless you have some very tolerant friends or family. You’ll want to get there by public transport instead.

Useful services are available at or near the following locations:

Many other locations on the Pennine Way have bus services although they may not be particularly useful to the walker, nor frequent.

Guide Books and Maps

Checking the map

Guidebooks and maps are a must on the Pennine Way. Whilst there are plenty of signs, there are plenty of opportunities to lose your way on the route.

A brand new official guidebook was published by Aurum Press in July 2012, replacing the previous two volume version.

Fully updated, it contains information about the trail and (more importantly) Ordnance Survey maps at the 1:25,000 scale. The maps usually show plenty of the area surrounding the route, meaning you don’t really need to take any other maps with you.

Whilst not the best ideal for navigation, Wainwright's Pictorial Guide to the Pennine Way offers AW’s own particular take on the walk as well as plenty of history and information. It is a fascinating read.

Wainwright’s original book has recently been updated by Chris Jesty, along with Wainwright’s other pictorial guides to ensure it’s up to date.

If you’d like to take maps with you, there are a couple of options. First is the A-Z Adventure Series maps. These excellent map books contain Ordnance Survey mapping at the 1:25,000 scale. They’re the same size as a folded map so will fit well in your map case, and are a lot easier to change the page for in high wind. The books also contain a full index of places and fells so finding where you want to go is easy.

The A-Z have split the Pennine Way over two books. There is one book coving the north of the Pennine Way, and another for the south of the Pennine Way.

Alternatively Harveys publish three strip maps which cover the whole route. These are Harvey’s own mapping, at the 1:40,000 scale. The three maps are:

Alternatively if you’d like Ordnance Survey maps, you will need the following (deep breath):

Finally, the Pennine Way’s fame means that there have been more than a few books written about it.

Most recent is Walking Home – poet Simon Armitage’s tale of his journey walking home down the Pennine Way (yes, he walks North to South!) Simon acts as a modern day troubadour, trying to arrange a gig every evening and passing round a hat at the end of his performance.

My favourite is Pennine Walkies, Mark Wallington’s account of walking the trail after deciding his dog, Boogie, needed the exercise.

Frequently hillarious, Wallington also has the amazing experience of walking the route with barely any rain, and doesn’t fall in any bog at all. Frankly, I suspect he made it all up.

Now out of print, but often available second hand is Barry Pilton’s One Man And His Bog must surely win the award for best name.

Quite why Barry decides to walk the Pennine Way, the reader is never quite sure, but if he hadn’t, the world would have one less funny book.

Finally don’t forget another out of print book. It’s the cartoon based Laughs Along the Pennine Way. It’s by Pete Bog so it must be good.

Know how to use a map and a compass

Hmm? Which way?

Whilst the route is sign posted, there are several parts of the Pennine Way that are difficult to navigate and you’ll need to know how to use a map and compass.

There are several online guides like How To Use A Compass, and you may also find training courses in your area – many YHA hostels host them for example.

Knowing how to use a map and compass together will really help you and will (hopefully!) stop you getting lost – guide books can only tell you so much in text form.

And finally, and any questions

You haven't done the Pennine Way properly if you haven't had to eat lunch huddled under a bridge

The Pennine Way is a great challenge to do and I hope the above have given you some useful information to help plan your trip.

So all that is left to do is to get your boots on and get walking! Have fun, and if you have any questions or comments, just leave a comment below.

Your Comments

Mish Chips

9 July 2012 at 11:00 pm

Thanks so much for your website, we used it for the South Downs Way and are now referring to it while planning our Pennine Way trip.
I bought the Trailblazer Pennine Way book but am finding the maps a bit difficult to read and I don’t want to get 10 OS maps! Are the Harvey’s maps any use for planning? I saw some bad reviews on Amazon about a lack of detail which has put me off a bit and I’m now not sure what to do. Any advice?
Thanks!

Andrew Bowden

14 July 2012 at 5:47 pm

Afraid I’ve never used the Harveys maps for planning – I’ve always used OS maps or guide books with the OS maps in them. The official Pennine Way guidebooks published by Aurum have the full route in OS format so are easier than buying maps.

Alternatively Bing.com has Ordnance Survey maps available in its maps section – which is incredibly useful!

Jamie Simpson

22 July 2012 at 8:10 pm

Hi Im 16 and me and a few cadets was thinking of doing a charity hike on the Pennine way but we’re not too sure what to expect and as we are doing it non-stop we dont know how much food to take and we wont have the money to stop at B&B’s, any additional tips and advice would be great thanks.

Jamie Simpson

Andrew Bowden

23 July 2012 at 10:15 am

Hi Jamie – the good news is that the Pennine Way’s pretty well served for shops for most of its route. It depends on how long you’ll be doing each day, but you’ll be able to stock up on supplies at least every three days in a supermarket or local shops. But the further north you go, the more spread out they are. I’d say try and have four days worth of food with you for most of the trip.

From memory there’s shops and/or supermarkets in Hebden Bridge, Gargrave, Malham, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Hawes, Middleton in Teesedale, Alston, Haltwistle (which is a bit off route) and Bellingham. Most YHAs also have some convenience foods and milk available to buy as well. However there’s no shops beyond Bellingham so make sure you stock up there for the final push. There’s always somewhere to eat if you run out of food but it’ll be in pubs.

If you’re on a budget, you’ll want to either camp or stay in hostels or camping barns – there’s a lot on the route. Camping is dirt cheap but your rucksack will be heavier and it’s only cheap if you have (or can borrow) camping equipment already! If you don’t have any, hostels and bunkbarns will work out just as cheap. As you’re under 18 you’ll be advised to check with the YHA first – you may need your own room rather than staying in dorms, and if that’s the case it’s a good idea to book in advance. The National Trail website has a good list of places to stay,

Not sure what else I can add other than enjoy it and I hope you raise lots of cash! Oh and try not to get stuck in any bog. It’s not fun.

Mark Sickles

9 November 2013 at 12:36 am

Question: Can you purchase camping fuel (alcohol or butane stove canisters) at Edale and other villages along the way?

Andrew Bowden

10 November 2013 at 8:29 pm

Unfortunately this isn’t one I can answer based on my experience – hopefully some other soul can provide some information using theres. I’m sure you’d be able to find meths for fuel at several of the towns and larger villages places en-route. There are also a couple of proper campsites on the way which may have camp shops.

Dave Anderson

9 March 2014 at 11:18 am

A great site. I’m at that nervy, just-had-the-idea-stage of planning the walk. You have created a site that answers so many of my questions, many thanks

Aaron Malcolm

25 March 2014 at 4:33 pm

Hi, Just really wanting to post to say what an amazing site, I am currently organizing a charity event to walk the whole penine way to raise money for kidney cancer research. I have to say right now your site is like my bible!
Only difference with us is that we aim to live of the land only!!! Which makes us nervous but hey you gotta give it a go.
We are heavily into learning survival techniques and put ourselves into situations which we need to use them (NOT ADVISABLE FOR A NOVICE).
Would be great if you had any information on natural springs for drinking water etc…Saves all the boiling, tablets etc

Andrew Bowden

26 March 2014 at 9:31 am

Hi Aaron – I have to say I don’t remember much about the water situation on the Pennine Way, as we always stocked up for the day before leaving. Well apart from the many peaty puddles! However there is an alternative to the boiling and tablets, and that’s to use something like the Travel Tap which I did a video on. I’ve been told the newer models have a much better flow than the one I have, meaning you can just stock up on the go whenever you see water.

Good luck with your walk! Should be an amazing experience.

Dave Anderson

27 March 2014 at 5:33 pm

If I may add to your comment, Andrew, in reply to Aaron; I intend relying on a Katadyn pro hiker water filter which is claimed to be the most popular portable filter in the US. There are lots of examples of people filtering the most disgusting concoctions and then drinking the results on YouTube. I used mine for wild camps in the Lakes last year and now use it on day walks to save carrying full bottles of heavy liquid.

simon

27 May 2014 at 6:02 pm

hi ive done the edale to crowdon walk twice how i got there was sheer luck as i have not much compass and map exp, i would like to do standedge to ebdom bridge can you tell me where the starting point is at standedge please as i will be dropped off by car many thanks simon.

Andrew Bowden

28 May 2014 at 11:46 am

Standedge section starts on the A62, near Diggle – close to Brun Clough reservoir. There’s a car park close by – http://binged.it/1gA0I2i shows the location. Well worth learning how to use a map and compass – many organisations do courses on them.

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