In April 2013, Britain's first National Trail - the Pennine Way - joined the IAT. The 268-mile (429-km) path follows the top of the Pennine Mountains along the rugged backbone of north-central England, from the Peak District National Park through the Yorkshire Dales and over Hadrian's Wall to the Cheviots Hills on the border with Scotland. It is amongst the finest upland walking in England.
The Peninne Way National Trail is a grand traverse up the center of England, with 17% within the Peak Districk National Park, 20% in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and 24% within the Northumberland National Park. (Total 61% designated.) Highlights include Kinder Scout, Stoodley Pike, Top Withins, Malham Cove, Pen-y-ghent, Tan Hill, High Force, Cauldron Snout, High Cup Nick, Cross Fell, Hadrians Wall, and The Cheviot.
The trail takes approximately 16 days to complete, from the start at Nags Head pub in Edale to the finish at the Border Inn in Kirk Yetholm. Its highest elevation is 893 meters (2,947 feet) at Cross Fell in Cumbria, the highest point in England outside of the Lake District.
Pennine Hightlights is a 5-day walk along a section of the Pennine Way that takes in some of the spectacular landscape of the trail.
Day 1: Hawes to Keld (20km/12.5 miles)
Hawes is the capital of the little Kingdom of Wensleydale, a friendly busy market town.
From Hawes the Pennine Way passes Hardraw with its famous waterfall located behind the Green Dragon Inn. The Way then climbs over Great Shunner Fell which offers wonderful views of the surrounding Dales, dropping down a walled lane where Keartons Tea-room offers refreshments. The landscape in the dale reflects the land use - each hayfield having its own barn. The upper level of the barn was used for the storage of hay, whilst the over-wintering stock occupied the floor below. From Thwaite the Way passes Kisdon Force waterfall and then into the village of Keld.
Day 2: Keld to Baldersdale (24km/15 miles )
Leaving Keld the Way again climbs onto the high moorlands and passes the lonely Tan Hill Inn - reputedly the highest in Britain and once the crossing point for four packhorse trails.
On the adjacent hillsides the land is pockmarked with old colliery workings. Beyond Tan Hill the Way enters County Durham, crossing Sleightholme Moor and descending to the River Greta which is crossed on Gods Bridge - a huge slab of limestone that forms a natural bridge. After crossing beneath the busy A66 the Way again climbs the several false crests to Race Yate Rigg. On route the optimistically named Ravlock Castle is passed - now a ruined stone hut. In good weather Baldersdale and its Reservoirs are now in sight and are reached following a descent across Cotherstone Moor.
Day 3: Baldersdale/Bowes to Langdon Beck (24km/15miles)
From Middleton in Teesdale the Trail follows the River Tees up to its source above Cow Green Reservoir.
The Tees is one of the most beautiful rivers in England. Walking along its banks gives great views of the spectacular waterfalls of Low and High Force and Cauldron Snout. Teesdale is famous for its hay meadows and rich flora much of which can be seen from the path. The majority of the valley is protected by English Nature either as part of the Teesdale National Nature Reserve, or with the Environmentally Sensitive Areas scheme. This section of the Pennine Way is as far as possible from the typical image of high, isolated peaty moorland which people tend to think of as the Pennine Way.
Day 4: Langden Beck to Dufton (19km/12 miles)
From Cauldron Snout and Cow Green Reservoir the path leaves the Tees and crosses Birkdale Moor. On initial impression this area is much more what Pennine Way walkers would expect, however it has many delights which become apparent as you walk across the moor. The last farm passed on the way up is Birkdale Farm, reputedly the highest inhabited farm in England. Walking up from the farm you pass old mine workings including the interestingly named 'Moss Shop'. The moor is relatively flat which makes the sudden appearance of High Cup Nick all the more impressive. Walking from the Birkdale side on the Pennine Way the walker arrives at the top of a huge cliff forming the curved edges of the Nick. This is a unique geological feature and is well worth a visit in its own right.
The path continues down the northern side of High Cup, giving excellent views to the valley below. As you leave High Cup behind, the views change to spectacular ones across the Eden Valley, which make the descent into Dufton worth losing all that height for. Dufton is a lovely village with a very traditional feel, and welcoming pub.
Day 5: Dufton to Alston (35km/22 miles)
The character of the Pennine Way changes again for the next section, climbing up out of the valley in small hedged lanes then up towards Cross Fell, the highest summit in the Pennines. The route climbs up Knock Old Man, then over Dun Fell with its conspicuous radar installation before tackling Cross Fell. This whole section has been extensively mined in the past, leaving many visible features such as curnocks and holes as well as some large hushes. One of the mines here produced silver in the past, but there is little chance of picking any up today! From Cross Fell summit the views across to the Lake District are superb on a clear day. The South Tyne valley provides lovely walking country, but is largely undiscovered.
From here the Way follows the old corpse road down to Garigill. Once down into the valley the path follows the South Tyne river to Alston. The South Tyne valley provides lovely walking country, but is largely undiscovered. This section reminds the Pennine Way walker of the Teesdale section, but without the crowds.
To learn more about the Pennine Way National Trail, visit their website
.... and walk the spine of north-central England all the way to Scotland!