Another 15 Things You’ll Never Forget About Walking the Pennine Way

Published 27 April 2016

The Double Arch bridge at East Marton, on the Pennine Way

The Pennine Way‘s 267 miles long. That’s a quite a distance to walk. And there’s many great things to see when you’re walking it. And hey, you know there’s fifteen at least.

But the more we looked at the Pennine Way, the more we just knew we couldn’t leave it at just fifteen amazing sights. There are many times when you’re actually walking it that it just feels like it’s just bogs and wild moorland, but when you look back you realise there really is so much more.

And here they are. Another fifteen things you’re never forget about walking the Pennine Way.

1. The Wain Stones

The Wain Stones on the Pennine Way
The Wain Stones. Just don’t ask me what’s Wain about them.

There’s no denying that that first day of hiking out of Edale has enough wonders to set you up for the whole walk. Indeed we could just fill a whole page here with stuff you’ll see on that initial walk. However the Wainstones just had to be mentioned. Two weathered rocks that look like an elderly couple kissing? It’s no wonder these two stones are regularly hunted about by photographers.

2. The Bridge over the M62

The Pennine Way bridge over the M62 motorway
If you have to make people walk over a massive motorway, allow them to do it in style.

I know what you’re thinking. Crossing a motorway on a bridge is a highlight of the Pennine Way? Andrew, what are you thinking? Well you may wonder that, but I’d say go there and experience it for yourself!

It’s difficult to completely explain why, but walking over eight lanes of fast moving traffic on an elegant curved bridge that is a far cry from the rectangular and more functional bridges that motorways are normally adorned with. The bridge is pretty iconic when seen from the road, too.

3. The Double Bridge at East Marton

Double bridge at East Marton
It’s a bridge on top of a bridge! Utter madness!

Speaking of bridges, this one a few miles on at East Marton is a right doozie. It’s basically a bridge built on top of a bridge. The lower arch was built first and when a new road was built, it was raised up so that the road could use it. Simple and practical, but a brilliant local landmark.

4. The Three Peaks

The view from the summit of Pen-y-Ghent when the hill is covered in cloud.
I can see the pub from here!

Yorkshire’s three peaks – Ingleborough, Wernside and Pen-y-ghent – are local landmarks without a doubt in this most attractive part of the Yorkshire Dales.

Towering over the area, the three are collectively known as ‘The Three Peaks’. Or at least were until that term got pinched by the Ben Nevis/Snowdon/Scafell Pike combo. These days the word ‘Yorkshire’ is often added to the name.

The Pennine Way only visits one of the peaks, that being Pen-y-ghent, but what a view you get up there of the other two. Well, assuming the summit’s not in cloud anyway.

5. Hardraw Force

Hardraw Force
Hardraw Force – the longest drop waterfall, even if it does look like it’s just a hosepipe sticking over the edge.

The Pennine Way has some spectacular waterfalls, with Kinder Downfall and High Force springing instantly to mind. But neither of those two, nor any of the others, can perform the trick that Hardraw Force. For this small waterfall, tucked away at the back of a pub, is England’s highest unbroken waterfall. It’s not the longest one – there’s an underground one in the inside of Ingleborough that’s three times as big – but it’s still pretty good and just about worth paying the £2.50 charge that’s payable at the pub in order to gain access.

6. The Yorkshire Dales

Standing on a hillside near lots of fields and hedges
Rolling hills, dry stone walls and barns and some person just standing there. The Dales at its finest.

The Yorkshire Dales are an outstandingly beautiful place. It’s all those rolling fields, dry stone walls and two-story stone barns that litter the valleys, that does it for me every time. Who would not want to pull on a rucksack, slip on the boots and head out along a path through that lot?

The Dales are absolutely up there with the highlights of the Pennine Way, and somewhere you’ll be tempted to visit again, and again, and again.

7. The enchanting East Gill Force

The utterly enchanting East Gill Force
The utterly enchanting East Gill Force

Just at the edge of the village of Keld sits East Gill Force. It’s an enchanting little waterfall, in a quiet and secluded location. All this despite being on both the Coast to Coast and the Pennine Way at the same time.

The water splashes down as you sit surrounded by trees as the water cascades down the rocks. It’s beautiful and magical and you won’t want to leave.

10. Popping into Greg’s Hut

A small building on a hilly landscape, near some snow.
Greg’s Hut – a perfect place to warm up from the snow!

Tucked on the moorland, near Cross Fell, sits a building that stands alone; a remnant of the lead mining that once saw a host of activity in these hills. How did this survive in perfect condition, you wonder.

This is Greg’s Hut, named after John Gregory who died in a climbing accident in 1968. A group of his friends adopted this hut and renovated it in his memory. It’s open for all to visit, for overnight stays or just to escape the wind or rain for a short while.

11. Sheltering from the rain whilst having your lunch

Catherine sits huddled under a bridge next to a stream, eating some food.
If you want shelter in which to eat lunch, simply find a handy, convenient bridge.

In his book, Pennine Way Walkies, author Mark Wallington revealed that he’d walked the whole of the Pennine Way and it had barely rained once. I’ve never been entirely sure I believe him. Most Pennine Way walkers will get a soaking at some point or other, seeing you shrink into your waterproofs as you push on.

And because of Sod’s Law, it’s probably going to be raining around lunchtime too. And if it does, you’ll start looking around you wondering where you can find shelter in order to eat that packed lunch. Under a tree? Too leaky. In that sheep fold? Too much poo on the floor. Under that bridge? Too much like a fearsome troll… Although, mind you, it does look pretty dry down there…

12. Sycamore Gap

Sycamore Gap, where a tree grows in a gap in Hadrian's Wall
One of the most picturesque locations on the whole of the Pennine Way

If the Wain Stones are the photogenic mecca of the southern part of the Pennine Way, then Sycamore Gap has to perform the same role in the Hardian’s Wall area, helped by a staring role in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

The place says what it does on the tin. It’s a sycamore tree growing in a gap in Hadrian’s Wall. And it looks fantastic.

13. Stuck in a bog

A walker in boggy land
Bog, bog, glorious bog. There’s nothing quite like it for soothing the blood.

The Pennines can be wet and boggy, but that’s fine because there are lots of paving slabs around. And that’s good. Well except when they’re not there. And when there’s no slabs you better had be careful as, believe me, there is nothing more unforgettable than putting your foot in the wrong place and finding yourself up to your waist in the stuff with no idea how to get out again.

Trust me, if that happens to you, you’ll never forget it.

14. Being blown over on Windy Gyle

Holding onto the trig point at Windy Gyle
Watch out, it’s windy at Windy Gyle!

It’s called Windy Gyle for a reason. The reason being that it’s extremely windy. That’s not an exaggerated pose up in that photograph. We really did have to hold onto the trig point to stop ourselves being blown over!

15. Comparing experiences at the end

Remark from a Pennine Way signing in book, written by Bob Griffiths, saying "Big hills, big rain, big smile."
Bob’s a happy man to have reached the end of the Pennine Way

Whether it’s with someone face to face, or simply reading through the entries of the signing in books at the Border Hotel, you’ll be reminded that you weren’t the only ones to ever walk the Pennine Way. Although many of the experiences others went to, may seem extremely familiar sounding…


John Dawson

6 December 2018 at 10:43 pm

I did the first two thirds of the PW (Edale – Dufton) when I was ~20; 40 years later re-did the middle third (Malham – Dufton) with my son, and finally, a couple of years later, the last third (Dufton – KY), last year. On the whole, weather was kind, sometimes hot, and blisters tolerable. One thing I did learn on the PW was to travel light, really light; unless on a very tight budget, there is no need now to camp. Have done many other walks also, but I have a soft spot for the old PW. Thanks to all who came before for making it was it is now.

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