Pennine Way – England’s Famous Long Distance National Trail
The Pennine Way is one of the longest of the 18 National Trails in England and Wales. At a distance of 270 miles, the Pennine Way lost it’s claim to being the longest national trail when the South West Coastal Path, a distance of 630 miles, opened in 1978.
The Pennine Way was the inspiration, in 1935, of Tom Stephenson, the future secretary of the Ramblers Association. Despite many difficulties and objections Parliament finally approved the recommendation of the National Parks Commission and in 1965, 30 years later, Britains first National Trail was opened on the 24th April.
It is one of the best known and popular long distance footpaths in Britain, with an estimated 160,000 people, many from overseas, attempting it every year. It is not known how many complete it, but it is thought that 70% give up after the first two days due to the peat bogs and marshland that needs to be traversed.
The traditional route is south to north from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders. In October 2009 three friends and myself decided to walk the Pennine Way in the opposite direction from north to south. The reason for this is that we live in the southern section and have already completed most of this part, so we thought we would walk home from Scotland.
The Pennine Way is a tough, wet walk, not to be taken lightly. The majority of the paths, where they exist, are through desolate moorland, peat bogs and swamp land – this is the reason many people quit and never return. It can be a sole destroying effort at times, plodding through this environment, with only the banter from companions and the thought of a good meal and drink at the end of the day to keep you going.
I will cover the first weeks walking from Kirk Yetholm to Garrigill in more detail in the next post.