The Pennine Way

The Pennine Way is an iconic walk running the 268 miles (435km) from Edale in Derbyshire, England to Kirk Yetholm in Scotland. The route follows Britain’s rocky spine (the backbone of England) from the hills of the Derbyshire Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales, through the Swaledale Valley, across the North Pennines, over Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland to the Cheviot Hills, ending at Kirk Yetholm, in the Scottish Borders.

The Pennine Way was the first National Trail in England, opening in 1965. It can be walked in successive stages taking about 20 days or in individual day stages. To us the difficulty seemed to be in finding accommodation. When the route was devised there were more youth hostels open along the way, or many walkers camped either in campsites or wild camped. Rest days can be taken along the way, Maybe take time to visit Hebden Bridge, Skipton or Appleby, to name just a few.

The best months to walk the Pennine Way are from mid-May to September when the weather is usually better. But at any time of the year the weather can be very poor, making navigation very difficult. Snow may be found in sections during the winter months.

Day 1 Edale to Crowden Via Kinder Plateau and Bleaklow Head – 16 miles (26 Km) 680m ascent and descent

Day one incorporates some of the best views, the 2nd longest ascent of the Pennine Way and Bleaklow hill with its notorious fogs, and navigational difficulties. After the start in Edale there are no food supplies or facilities. This was a tougher day than we imagined and we were very grateful for the miles of paving stones that have been added to ensure that the path is raised above the many bogs. The day can be divided into 2 sections, firstly Edale over Kinder Plateau to the A57 Snake road, then secondly up the Devil's Grough to Bleaklow, followed by a steady downhill to Crowden.

Due to the problems with accommodation we had decided to walk the first few days based from our home. We left home in Stockport in 2 cars, dropping the first one off at Torside car park on the A628 Woodhead Road (£4.50 with toilets), then left the other one in the large car park near Edale Station (£7.00 with toilets). Leaving the car park in Edale at 8.45am we bought a coffee and cake at the nearby Penny Pot Cafe. We headed north along the main road through the stunningly located Edale village, past the Romper pub on the left, before arriving at the Old Nags Head 250m (820ft), the starting point of the Pennine Way. Both these pubs provide evening meals and accommodation.

We departed at 9.15am taking the signed path through a gate, with a stream to the right, 5 minutes later through another gate and emerged onto open pasture with birds swooping overhead. We headed west through the sheep filled fields, through Barber Booth, passing Crowdenlea Farm, then turned right up a small road. On

arrival at Lee Farm check out a small cow shed on the left which is now converted into a small museum of the local area. We continued up the road through a gate arriving at an old packhorse bridge at 10.15am, check out the ancient ford across the stream too. From medieval times packhorse trains went this way across the high Pennine moors carrying goods like salt and cotton from the west, which were exchanged for coal and lead from the east. The path splits here, with the left being less steep for the packhorses, we took the path to the right up the strangely named Jacobs Ladder. It is named after Jacob Marshall who farmed at Edale Head in the 1700s, he cut steps into the hillside to make the track easier to climb. Fifteen minutes later the paths rejoin by a large cairn-Edale Cross, before the packhorse trail continues to Hayfield. We stopped to admire the views to the right over the River Noe, and back down the Edale Valley. Continuing uphill the path is narrower, but obvious, and we arrived at the top of Kinder Low 633m (2077ft) at 10.45am, with its white trig point. (3 miles, 1.5 hours). From here there are fantastic views over Cheshire, North Wales and South Lancashire and is well worth the walk.

We turned right and headed in a northerly direction, along the obvious path running along the edge of the Kinder Plateau, before arriving at Kinder Downfall at 11.45am. At this point the river creates a waterfall over the edge of the plateau. A famous sight is, if a strong westerly wind is blowing the water blows back upstream, and can be seen from many miles away. We crossed the stream continuing north, passing a large cairn on our right which marks the edge of the plateau. The path then falls steeply down to a junction, one path coming up Williams Clough from Hayfield, one heading east to the Snake Inn, and our path to Bleaklow. (12.30pm 6 miles 3 hours).

We continued north, arriving at the top of Mill Hill 544m (1785ft) at 12.55pm. The original path across the bog has fortunately been replaced by old mill stones. These make it a quick yomp, with the direction obvious too. We arrived at the A57 Snake Road at 1.45pm. It was a busy walking day with at least 50 cars parked at the side of the road, shame that there wasn't an ice cream van!. We carefully crossed the busy road, and went through a gate by a little sign saying The Pennine Way. Out of interest there is a bus stop here, bus number X56 going between Sheffield and Manchester via Glossop. (9 miles 4.5 hours)

The path to the top of Bleaklow follows Devils Dyke, which is just a trough with no views at all. At one point the path opened out (2.20pm), and the directions are not apparent. We spent the next 30 minutes, crossing and re-crossing a stream in Hern Clough, there are very few signs, and the path is vague in places. We were so lucky to have a clear day, or we would have really struggled.

We happily arrived at the top of Bleaklow 633m (2077ft) at 3.15pm, with some great views. We carried straight on happy to have completed the final ascent of the day, then we tracked to the right hand side of a stream. At a confluence of the stream (Torside Clough), we crossed over and climbed up the steep slope on the other side. As we descended a sometimes paved path through the pretty heather the views improved, as the two reservoirs we were we heading towards came into view. Arriving at the bottom of the path near a house, 220m (720feet) (4.45pm), the actual Pennine Way turns left, and continues over the reservoir to Crowden. We turned right and walked for about one mile along the Transpennine Trail, returning to our car

at 5.15pm. One last thing to see is the very pretty memorial garden, just before the car park..

Distance 15.6 miles (25km)

Duration of Walk 7.5 Hours

Elevation 1983 feet (604m)

Average Pace 29 min/mile

We really enjoyed this walk, the weather was great, if a bit windy and the views were tremendous, and we were surrounded by beautiful countryside.


As always we advise wearing walking boots - we wear Lowa. The weather in this area can be changeable so take wet weather clothes, hats, sun hats, map, compass and first aid kit etc. Take a phone charger, especially if using on-line resources. Also take food and drink, as none were available on this trip.

We felt that this was quite a difficult day, even with great weather and fantastic views, taking us 8 hours with only short stops. At one time without the recently built stone paths, and modern navigational devices, walkers would have got very wet in the many bogs, and lost too. These days walking clothes are of a much superior quality. We also had the advantage of only carrying day packs, instead of large bags containing a tent that could have been necessary. We did wonder when the path was first created how many walkers gave up on day one.

Crowden has no facilities other than a youth hostel and campsite, which do provide food, and there are no lunch options en route either. So stock up in Edale – and perhaps for the next leg too, as Standedge is similarly bereft.

Look out for Curlews, short-eared owls, golden plover, mountain hares, and red grouse.


Pennine Way Day 2 Crowden to Standedge

Today's walk is 15 miles, (25km) with 2000 feet (600m) of ascent, over Black Hill, which used to be a complete quagmire with heavy deep black bogs, hence the name. These days fortunately the path is now firm flagstones, with plenty of vegetation. The route then descends to the A635 road, continuing with completely different landscape passing very pretty reservoirs. On arrival at Standedge there is again no facilities.

We left home with the promise of a cold but April sunny day. How wrong was that to be proved-more later. As on Day One of The Pennine Way, due to a shortage of accommodation we left our home in Stockport in 2 cars, dropping the first one off at a small free car park on the A62 (Brun Green) Standedge, east of Diggle. Then arriving at Torside car park on the A628 Woodhead Road (£4.50 with toilets), at 9.30pm. We should have been warned that the weather forecast was incorrect after being hit by a massive snowstorm on the M60 near Stockport, causing it to be subsequently closed, then snow on the road and heavy cloud between Marsden and Longdendale, even skidding en-route. But having been on so many trips worldwide, we were not going to be put off by a bit of snow!!

Leaving the car park at Torside, we turned right along the Longdendale Trail, re-joining the Pennine way as it comes down from Bleaklow, at the crossing the B6105. (9.50am). We followed the obvious signs over the dam, admiring the very pretty Torside Reservoir, the first of many reservoirs for today. We crossed the very busy A628 Manchester to Sheffield road (10.15am), then walked along a disused road, through 2 gates, then made sure we took the correct left turn to commence the ascent of Black Hill on the path. (10.30am)

After 30 minutes the weather, which had been slightly bright when we left the car, took a decided turn for the worse with heavy snow falling. Strangely the stone path was still visible, with about 6cm of snow all around. We hoped that the snow would stop, but alas it just got worse. We debated whether we should turn round and return to our car. But the path looked fairly treacherous going down. We spoke to a couple of people coming down who said the weather was bad but no worse at the top. After having made so much effort positioning cars to get here we decided to continue. (Not good advice really, maybe we should have aired on the side of caution and gone home. Two sticks each would have been helpful too as it was very slippery, as well as proper Alpine Boots.)

We followed the obvious path crossing a stream, then after a couple of falls we finally arrived at the trig point marking the top 582m at 1pm (7 miles. It was a very exhilarating experience, and we were very glad that we had not turned round. The weather had improved a lot, no longer snowing and with great views. We enjoyed the whiteness and stillness all around, eating our sandwiches whilst chatting to fellow walkers. The views are great in all directions, together with the Holme Moss transmitting station to the east.

We continued to head north, the sky still had a leaden appearance but the weather cleared with no more snow. This was a relatively easy path down, arriving at the

A635 Holmfirth road at Wessenden Head at 2.20pm. We treated ourselves to a delicious coffee and bacon sandwich from Carol at Snoopy's van which is parked on the lay-by on the road. Get there early as she closed after we had visited.

Crossing the road, the 2nd section of the walk was so different from the first. The weather was bright and sunny, we even met people in shorts. The scenery is very different too, no more black peat bogs. There are plenty of reservoirs built in around 1800, which supply the Huddersfield Canal, and mill town of Marsden.

At 3.20pm we arrived at the end of Wessenden reservoir, with signs to Standedge, Wessenden and to a nearby waterfall. We followed the Kirklees Way path, then after ten minutes we took the very steep path on the left signposted the Pennine Way down to the stream. Turning left along the stream, then right over a small bridge. We went up a very steep slope, reaching a small building on the left, signed The Pennine Way, crossing another stream, following steps, until the top of the slope is reached. Returning to the same height as we had been 30 minutes previously.

We had pure sunshine now, eating a quick snack at the beautifully located Black Moss Reservoir, which has a couple of sandy beaches. Heading north again, then turning west before the beautiful Redbook reservoir is reached. We followed the obvious path arriving back at our car park at 5pm, (387m) with views back to Black Hill, looking resplendent in the snow.

This was a fantastic day, taking us 7.5 hours to walk the leisurely 15 miles. Given the inclement weather that we had experienced in the morning, it is imperative to take the correct kit, and maybe not believe the weather forecast!!! We would love to return to Black Hill, when the weather is better, just to see what we missed.

Distance 15.6 miles (25km)

Duration of Walk 7.5 Hours

Elevation 1983 feet (604m)

Average Pace 29 min/mile


There are no facilities on the A635 at Standedge. Buses could be caught to Diggle.

Black Hill and Bleaklow make up the largest moorland conservation area in Europe, with much of the Moorland being restored.

Look out for the "Framing the Landscape" at Wessenden Head-a great photo opportunity.

Pennine Way Day 3 Standedge Oldham, to Hebden Bridge The Pennines, UK

Today's walk is a comparatively easy 15 miles, (25km) with 1180 feet (360m) of ascent. It starts at Standedge near Oldham, then over Blackstone Edge with fantastic views, along an old drovers road, over the M62 motorway, passing reservoirs with plenty of historical interest to Stoodley Pike, and finally along the canal into Hebden Bridge. All of which provides a variety of scenery.

As on Days One and Two due to a shortage of accommodation on The Pennine Way, we left our home in Stockport in 2 cars. We left the first one at Hebden Bridge railway station, (£5.00 per day), then left the 2nd one 30 minutes later at a small free car park (Brun Green) Standedge, on the A62 east of Diggle, where we had finished day 2 the previous week.

Leaving Brun Green at 9.15am we crossed the A62 road, picking up the signed path with fantastic views to Manchester and Rochdale to the west. We headed north past a couple of trig points, with signs for Marsden Moor heritage trail arriving 2.5 miles later at the A640, Huddersfield Road. Crossing this road we continued north to White Hill (466m), with the sound of the motorway getting closer, arriving on the A672. There is sometimes a handy snack van parked in the layby, observe the stone which marks the most easterly point of Lancashire. We passed the access road to aptly named Windy Hill communications tower. Again heading north, we crossed the M62 on a footbridge. I have always wanted to cross this bridge, having driven on the 4 lane motorway under it on numerous occasions from Manchester to Leeds.

We followed the track along the very pretty Blackstone Edge (472m), with brilliant views and a sheep shelter. At the end of the ridge there is the Aiggin Stone, a medieval guide stone for travellers some 600 years old. We went left down the paved road, this is sometimes referred to as a Roman Road, but it was probably constructed after the first Blackstone Edge turnpike act of 1734. After a couple of 100ms we followed the path to the right, round a corner staying high following the Broad Head Drain. Opposite the White House pub is a little path to the right of an old quarry which we took, before climbing over the fence onto the road. The White House pub (370m) is a local landmark on the High Pennine Hills, with fabulous views over the moors and down to Hollingworth Lake (Rochdale). Parts of the main house date from 1671,unfortunately for us it was shut.

Crossing the road, we took the relatively easy path passing Blackstone reservoir -the first of a few. We met a young couple who were walking the whole of The Pennine Way mostly wild camping with a 6 month old baby, we thought this was very brave, with an awful lot of kit to carry. We hope they made it. Stoodley Pike (a tower 37m high) then came into view (2.15pm), however, it took an hour to actually reach it. This path was very beautiful with further views to Todmorden, and more hills to the north. We reached Stoodley Pike at 3.15pm, (13 miles) a very popular location. It was originally built in 1815 to commemorate victory over Napoleon at the Battle of

Waterloo. After a lightning strike in 1854 it was re-built, and now has a lightning conductor on the top. It is possible to climb up the steps inside too.

From the top, we turned east, then north again through the very pretty Callis Wood crossing the Rochdale Canal, and the A646 road at 4.30pm (15 miles). The end of day 3. From here we followed the very pretty canal for some distance before visiting the lovely town centre before returning to the train station (1.5 miles).

Distance 15.4 miles (24.8 km)

Duration of Walk 7.5 Hours

Elevation 1115 feet (339m)

Average Pace 28 min/mile


The M62 was opened in 1971, 6 years after the Pennine Way. We were actually amazed at how far the noise of the motorway travels. The surrounding main roads, these days are surprisingly quiet except during bad weather, or when the motorway is closed. When crossing the motorway, you realise how much traffic it carries.

Accommodation, food, and drinks are in abundance in Hebden Bridge, making it a potential rest day.


Pennine Way Day 4 Hebden Bridge to Cowling, Yorkshire

This is a fairly long walk of 17 miles, with 840m of ascent. It is difficult to find the route for the first couple of miles, but it does pass through the most beautiful village of Heptonstall, following that it is a relatively easy very pretty track across the moors. After Heptonstall there is nowhere on the track to replenish supplies.

The first 3 days of our Pennine Way trip had been undertaken as day trips from our home in Manchester, leaving a car at each end of the day's walk. At the end of day 3 (Callis bridge), we had walked a couple of extra miles along the canal to Hebden Bridge Station. This enabled us to commence day 4 from the station-this being an option in our guide book too. We had booked the accommodation for the next 7 days of the Pennine Way in advance. There does seem to be a shortage of accommodation along this walk, necessitating some days hiking to be longer than we would have wished.

We arrived at Hebden Bridge Station at 9.15am, we preferably would have started the walk earlier, but this was the first train from our home. It is a very pretty station with the original Victorian features, near to the canal. We turned left along the main road, calling into the handy Co-op store for some last-minute supplies. Crossing the road by Cuckoo Steps Mill (9.45am), we ascended a very steep flight of ancient steps (Stoney Lane), turning right up Lee Royd. Then left at a cobbled path, with a great view back to Stoodley Pike, and the valley. Up more steps, then we arrived at the beautiful village of Heptonstall. Take some time to check out the 2 churches, cobbled streets, and useful post office. Passing the school on the right, we reached the countryside once more, then followed the Pennine Way sign to the left, right through a wood, and finally turning right to re-join the road we had left! We picked up the signs for the Pennine Way and Pennine bridleway over the moors and re-joined the main path coming up from Callis Bridge at 12pm. This section had been time-consuming, trying to find the ‘correct path’ which was not obvious, instead of just making our own way.

We continued over Heptonstall Moor (370m) with its pretty purple heather, headed north past Gorple Reservoirs to the left, alongside a pretty stream, turning left along the main road, then right up a very quiet tarmac road. For me this area was some of the prettiest of the day. We walked alongside the Walshaw Reservoirs, stopping to eat lunch. The Pennine Way turns right halfway along the 2nd reservoir, with paving slabs continuing gently up the slope. There are lovely views back over the moors. Coming over the brow we arrived at the popular location of Top Withins (450m, 2.30pm). This is the ruins of a farmhouse long associated with Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights, written in 1847. More recent claims, that it is not where the novel took place does not stop many visitors making the couple of mile hike from Howarth (where the Bronte family lived), to visit the area. After a very solitary day, it is always strange to then come across parties of people. Be careful here to find the correct path, heading north again, with Pen-y-Ghent in the far distance.

Following the path, we arrived at the very pretty Ponden reservoir (3pm). The path goes to the left and after studying the map and the time, we took a short cut passing to the right hand side of the reservoir, before turning left up the road. We turned right to re-join the official path passing between 2 buildings and went up a very steep slope. The path passes across the wide expanse of Ickornshaw Moor (438m) passing to the right of the trig point and Wolf Stones. We could see the rain falling all around. We continued north following the paved path, relieved that the rain did not reach us.

We passed a cottage, and 4 small black huts-we were not sure what these are used for. We were very pleased when our destination of Cowling came into view, as it seemed like a long

day. The last section is well signposted, leaving the moors, through fields of sheep, taking a track past a small waterfall. We arrived on the main road A6068, crossing over it, then turning left into tonight’s destination of Squirrel Wood Campsite at 5.40pm. It is a very small site, having about 5 wooden lodges with everything provided and outdoor seating areas, and a shower block. By the time we arrived it was too cold to sit out, then it poured in rain. The owner Adi is a great host. There is a sign, Edale 53.8 miles, and Kirk Yetholm 200.5 miles-not too far to go then!

This was a long day for us, having left home at 6.50am, with a walk of 18 miles carrying full kit. But it is always great to be out heading for the horizon through very pretty countryside.

After showers-token provided-we walked into the small village of Cowling, calling into the small shop, before eating a very large dinner in the Bay Horse pub.

Distance 17.9 miles 28.8 km

Duration of Walk 8 hours 30 minutes

Average pace of walk 28 mins per mile

Elevation 2605 feet 794m

Information train accommodation pub


Pennine Way Day 5 Cowling, Gargrave to Malham, Yorkshire

This stage connects the end of the south Pennines, with the Yorkshire Dales (known as the Aire gap). It consists of pretty, undulating countryside-but don’t be deceived, the walk is harder than you think. We lost the path on more than a few occasions. In our guide book, this stage is spilt into two, staying one night in Gargrave. After studying it we decided to complete it in one full day, a distance of 19 miles.

We packed up from where we were staying at Squirrel Lodge campsite, leaving one bag to be collected by Sherpa van. We had not been able to do this the previous day as we had arrived on the train after Sherpa needed to collect the bag. We left the campsite after a snack breakfast in our lodge at 7.45am, turning right along the main road, before picking up signs, over fields and roads to Higher Gill Bottom, passing ducks, geese and chickens. We followed the path through fields and on empty roads, along the stream. The countryside was looking beautiful in the morning sunshine. At 9am we had great views back to a tower over Cowling, and hills to the east. We went down a steep slope and steps to the beautiful village of Lothersdale. On the outskirts of the village there is an honesty box outside a house, with cakes sold in aid of Uganda. It was just the delicious snack that we needed. I am surprised there are not more honesty boxes along these walks. I am sure that there is plenty of money to be made from hungry/thirsty walkers passing by. Just off the path is Dale End Mill with the largest waterwheel in England dating from 1861, it has a diameter of 44ft (13.5m). Tours can be taken. Turning left past the Hare and Hounds pub, we continued over fields crossing a small road to the drive of Hewitts Farm. There is a well-positioned bench, where we sat eating our cake from the honesty shop (9.30am), with tremendous views over to where we had been. Continuing north over Elslack Moor, we reached a new topograph and trig point of Pinhaw Beacon 388m(1273ft) at 10am, with great views including west over the pink heather moors to Pendle Hill. Continuing, the route goes down Blogger Lane, across more fields, then at a junction of 3 paths, takes the one on the far right hand side, using paving stones for about 20 minutes. We crossed over a stream (10.30am), through a field passing a smelly farm, under a disused railway line, and passed a goat sanctuary. We arrived on the outskirts of Thornton-in-Craven at 11am, we thought it was a shame that the path took such a complex route to avoid the village! We thought it would be more interesting and easier to pass through the village, as well as bringing it some trade. We crossed the busy A56 road on a pelican crossing, passing a pink house, then left-up Cam Lane. (7.5miles). We crossed more fields before reaching the Leeds Liverpool canal at 11.40am (8.7miles). (Leeds 38 miles, Liverpool 89 miles) We followed it for a couple of bridges, including a fascinating double-arched bridge, before walking across more fields, arriving at Gargrave village at 12.30pm (11miles). We felt it would have been easier/nicer to follow the canal all the way to Gargrave.

We thought we would treat ourselves to lunch in the famous Dalesman Café, with a sign outside to Edale 70 miles/Kirk Yetholm 186 miles. We went in and waited to be served, the wait was too long, so we left going to the Co-op shop and bought sandwiches to eat on the bench outside. I feel that it is such a shame for the café owners that a better service is not provided. Today’s walk could have ended here as it is a pretty village to explore and accommodation is available. But it would make the next days walk to Malham (6.5miles) very short. I think all walkers must stay in Malham, as the next accommodation after that is not for 15 miles. Following our lunch, we passed along the side of The Dalesman Café, over the canal, up a bridle track, then right over beautiful Eshton Moor meadow (15miles 2.30pm). We then walked along the pretty bank of the River Aire, with beautiful trees, passing Newfield Hall,

built in 1865. We followed the river for a couple of miles until Kirby Malham, where the path continues up the road, then turns right uphill once more. We descended with pretty views to the church in Malham, Malham Cove and Gordale scar, arriving in the honey pot town of Malham at 4pm. .

We were unaccustomed to see so many people, it is certainly a popular spot. We arrived at the YHA at 4.40pm. This was the most disappointing stay we have had for years. As it is a Youth Hostel (but available for families, drivers and any age of people) it does not open till 5pm, so we waited outside. We paid £69 for a small room with bunk beds with a shared bathroom, not good value for money, no laundry facilities were available and photo I.D. is required at check-in,-unlike anywhere else we stayed. There is a kitchen to use, but no food provided to purchase. In Malham itself the village shop was shut, one pub was shut, the other pub and the hotel were fully booked for meals that evening. I waited at reception whilst a young man bought some cereal bars and chocolate for his evening meal, and breakfast the following day. Nothing more substantional was available for him, he was leaving at 7am to walk 30 miles the next day, I only hope he made it!!!. I feel that the YHA organisation have strayed far from their original ethos of accommodation for walkers, and am not sure why they can’t provide an evening meal, or some food for people to cook, canned food would have sufficed.

We had seen on social media that places were busy. I had phoned both pubs in Malham in advance and ended up booking a table at the Victoria Inn in Kirby Malham. We were fortunately being picked up by friends who live locally, otherwise it would have been a 40-minute walk. Malham is always a popular tourist attraction, it was fairly busy when we arrived. If dining in one of the 2 pubs book in advance. The Victoria Inn is a lovely pub, very good food was provided by friendly staff-one to be recommended. This was a lovely walk with undulating terrain and fabulous views. We lost the signs a couple of times, mostly due to overgrown vegetation. It was the middle of August and we saw nobody else walking the Pennine Way in either direction. If this was spilt back into 2 stages with an overnight in Gargrave, on arrival in Malham either Gardale Scar or Janet's Foss can be visited. Distance 19 miles 31 km

Duration of Walk 9 hours

Average pace of walk 28 minutes per mile

Elevation 2029 feet 618 m



Pennine Way Day 6 Malham to Ribblehead, Yorkshire

Today is a fairly long walk of 19 miles from Malham, via Malham Cove and Tarn, across open moor with fabulous views, ascending Pen-y-ghent, and according to our book this stage ends in Horton-in-Ribblesdale. Unfortunately, there was nowhere to stay in Horton, so we had booked The Station Inn at Ribblehead. We had originally planned to catch the train from Horton to Ribblehead, returning to the path after breakfast. However, after consulting the map we continued the walk from Pen-y-ghent to Ribblehead, re-joining the Pennine Way via the Dalesway the following day. We decided as long as the distance covered was about the same, then this would be fine. Breakfast is served in the YHA from 7.30am, and in anticipation of our long day, we were there at 7.20am packed and ready to leave. We ate the bacon sandwich and coffee that we had ordered the night before. However, it was not good value costing £5.00 each. Leaving at 8am we walked back to The Green, then turned right up the road, heading towards Malham Cove. After 5 minutes we turned right at the campsite, sign-posted to Malham Cove and the Pennine Way. We visited the base of Malham Cove, before ascending approximately 400 steps to the top of the cliff. The limestone scenery is fabulous and has featured on many a school geography field trip, studying in depth the clints (slabs) and grikes (deep fissures) of the limestone pavement, with lichen growing in the gaps. Take care near the cliff edge, limestone can be very slippery when wet. The path goes straight along the pavement, and when the grass is reached, there is sign to the left. We walked up a lovely small valley, turning right after the stile at the top-don't miss this. We walked up another valley, taking time to observe the sink-hole at the top. Again, another fascinating feature, quite a wide river flowing out of Malham Tarn just vanishes into the ground. Tests were carried out in the 1960s with dye put in the river, and found that it emerges beyond Malham Cove at Aire Head, not the stream flowing out under Malham Cove, that you might imagine.

On reaching Malham Tarn (9.10am), the wind had picked up creating small waves. We walked round the righthand side of the tarn, went through a gate (9.30am) arriving at a field centre, shame it was not serving coffee to passing walkers. Just past it is a bench overlooking the very pretty tarn, where we had a snack instead.(4 miles) We turned right by a line of sycamore trees, signed to Tenant Gill Farm. After. passing through the farm, we turned left by a Pennine Way sign.(6miles). Then some of my favourite walking began, I love big open spaces, with fabulous views in all directions. We went gently uphill finally arriving at the top of Fountains Fell, (8 miles) with fantastic views, Pen-y-ghent looking very imposing. We took a steep but obvious path down, arriving on a tarmac road (12pm), we turning left. It was very windy, and we hid behind a wall to eat our lunch-well some apples and Tea cakes that we had bought 2 days earlier in Gargrave. No food being sold in Malham. After one mile of walking down the road we went over a cattle grid then turned right by a sign post (10 miles). The wind was howling through the trees, we had descended a lot and Pen-y-ghent was looking imposing. I was not looking forward to the next stage. There is an interesting limestone pavement on both sides of the

track. There was a parking area, but this has now been closed by very large boulders placed across its entrance, I am not sure why. There is now another sign to the right to Pen-y-ghent,(12.50pm). By 1.10pm we reached a gate with a sign to Horton-in-Ribblesdale, given the very strong wind that was blowing this would have been a good option. Our path became very steep and rocky, with the use of hands required. Be very careful in this section especially in high winds, there are steep drops to one side.

We were very pleased to reach the top 694m at 1.30pm. It was very busy, with a party of Japanese tourists and many families. The path down is obvious, parts are fairly steep and rocky, care needs to be taken. At 2.30pm we reached the point where the path splits, along the Pennine Way 1.5 miles to Horton or north to Ribblehead. Having booked the Ribblehead pub we continued over a small hill, before re-joining the Pennine Way towards High Birkwith. This is an area that we know well, having completed the 3 peaks of Yorkshire on quite a few occasions. At Nether Lodge we left the Pennine way, and headed for the main road. (18miles). Look behind and Pen-y-ghent will seem an awful long way in the distance. Turning right along the B6479, take great care with the fast-moving traffic. The road here is part of the very popular Yorkshire 3 peaks walk, we wonder why a proper path could not be built along this section of road. We reached a cross-roads by the Ribblehead viaduct, where an ice-cream van, mobile café, and support vehicles are usually parked. We turned left and arrived at the very popular Station Inn at 4.45pm. Our room looked out over the very famous Ribblehead viaduct. Ensure that you check this out, together with its fascinating history. If you have time visit the actual viaduct and information boards.

This was a fabulous long day of walking with great views and good weather, just very windy on the top of Pen-y-ghent. We saw more people today than on previous days, again very few of them on the Pennine Way, the majority were ascending the single peak of Pen-y-ghent, others completing the three peaks of Yorkshire. We stayed at the Station Inn at Ribblehead, where we had stayed the previous year whilst walking the Dalesway. Dinner had been booked for us at 6pm. It is a fabulous pub, with many types of beers on tap, delicious large meals, and friendly service.

Distance 19 miles 31 km

Duration of Walk 8 hours 50 minutes

Average pace of walk 27 mins per mile

Elevation 2925 feet 890 m



Pennine Way Day 7 Ribblehead to Hawes, Yorkshire

We had more of a leisurely start today as it is a relatively easier walk of 14 miles to Hawes, this was fortunate as breakfast is not served until 8.30am-a perennial problem in the UK. Not designed for walkers who need an early start. But it was a delicious breakfast, and definitely worth the wait. If wishing to re-join the Pennine Way at Horton, there is a train at 9.15am, and just one stop to Horton. We left at 9.30am, turning left down the road, past lots of parked cars, support vehicles, a bacon sandwich stand (the only time we did not need one) and a Mountain Rescue van helpfully with the weather forecast posted. This area is one of 3 starting points for the 3 peaks of Yorkshire walk. There is nowhere to buy food en-route so we had ordered a packed lunch from The Railway Inn. After walking down the B6255 road for 30 minutes, (1.5miles) we turned right by a mile post signposted for the Dalesway, over a cattle grid following the obvious path uphill. At Cam End 438m we were joined by the Pennine Way (10.30am). It felt good to be back on the right path. There is some re-forestation in the area, which is a great start, but we felt that more trees could be planted. The Dalesway path turns right (10.50am, 3.7 miles), we continued along Cam High Road, a wide stony track, which is based on an old Roman Road and old pack horse trails. It is fascinating to think how many people have walked these tracks. The weather was overcast with a strong wind, with cloud over some of the peaks. But better than last year at this point when we were walking the Dalesway in torrential rain.

At 11.15am, 558m high, we came to the junction with Cam Houses, and the track turns into tarmac. With all of the 3 peaks still in view behind us, we realised how far we had come. We were above the very pretty valley to the right, that the Dalesway walk follows. At Kidhow Gate, (11.40am) the Pennine Way leaves the tarmac track, turning left, taking a route high above another beautiful valley.

We really did take our time on this stretch, enjoying not having to rush to reach our destination, and taking in the beautiful scenery all around. We sat on the hillside eating our lunch-ordered from the Station Inn, with views over another beautiful valley, containing patch work fields, and the villages of Gayle and Hawes. Continuing down Gaudy Lane for 2 miles, we had a look round the village of Gayle, then visited the Wensleydale cheese experience. This is a large shop visited by approx. 250,000 people each year, with a café. The local Wensleydale cheese is delicious and definitely worth buying, having won many awards.

We had a nice walk round the pretty village of Hawes. There are many shops, pubs, cafes and lots of tourists sitting outside enjoying the weather. There is a Spar shop and a couple of independent shops to purchase food for the next two days. There is a very interesting "Museum of the Dales Countryside" in Hawes, which we would had

visited if we had arrived earlier. Interestingly by the museum there is an old station (the railway line to Northallerton which operated from 1878-1954,) and a train is now marooned waiting at the station. There is talk of re-opening this line.

This was the easiest day so far, with brilliant views, and a very easy to follow track/path.

We stayed in "Herriot's in Hawes B and B", with a lovely room, and a warm welcome from the owners. There is a café and art gallery downstairs. They cater for walkers and cyclists, and also run 5 day holidays, transporting walkers round the Yorkshire Dales included in the price.

We bought some food from the Spar shop for dinner, but there was plenty of choice for eating out. Hawes is a lovely touristy village, if coming in peak season it may be advisable to book dinner in advance.

Distance 11.5miles 18km

Duration of Walk 5 hours 45 minutes

Average pace of walk 29 mins per mile

Elevation 1103 feet 336 m Information cheese shop

Pennine Way Day 8 Hawes to Frith Lodge, Keld, Yorkshire

We were really looking forward to today's walk, visiting Hardraw Force, over Great Shunner Fell-hoping for great views, visiting the beautiful Yorkshire villages of Thwaite and Keld. Then onwards a few more miles to the highly acclaimed Frith Lodge which is halfway between Keld and the very famous Tan Hill pub, a distance of 16 miles with 910m of elevation. Take care on Great Shunner Fell, it is easy to get lost in mist, follow the cairns.

After a fabulous breakfast where we were staying in "Herriot's in Hawes", leaving our bag to be collected, we left at 8.30am-a bit late for the distance today. We headed right towards the museum of the Dales, turning left down Brunt Acres Road, passing the old station house, over the disused railway line-spot the marooned train!, passing Raydale preserves, then taking the Pennine Way sign across the fields. It is always nice to return to the countryside, and the path. This is a beautiful walk over fields with sheep,and cattle crossing the River. The rain threatening but holding off for now.

We arrived at our first destination-Hardraw Force Waterfall-allegedly England's largest drop waterfall at 100feet. It is well worth paying the £4.00 each to view, with various paths through pretty woods, allow about an hour for a visit but you could stay longer, visiting the cafe and information centre too. It is in the grounds of The Green Dragon Inn with rooms-maybe for another time.

Back through Hardraw village, passing another cafe, before turning right (11.00am) signed Thwaite 8 Miles, picking up the very long ascent of Great Shunner Fell. The path follows an old cobble path, then many slabs have been laid across the moors, it would have been very wet otherwise. It did seem a long way to the top, at 716m this is the 5th highest mountain on the Pennine Way, and 3rd highest in the Yorkshire Dales. (12.15pm-7 miles.) From the top, Pen-y-Ghent, the Lakeland fells including Helvellyn, Scafell and Nine Standards Rigg can be seen. It had started to rain but the views were still good, with cloud just hovering overhead. We ate a quick lunch in the shelter, but a cold wind was blowing. We met a family with 3 children who were carrying all their camping gear, food etc whilst walking the Pennine Way, very commendable, we hoped they made it.

We followed the long path down across heather moorland with great views to the Dales. We could make out Ravenseat, where the famous Yorkshire Shepherdess was filmed. We joined an old cart track (1.15pm), and disused shepherds' huts. At 2pm we gratefully arrived at Kearton tea room in Thwaite ordering coffees, leaving at 2.30pm. (10.5miles). When we booked Frith Lodge, they had very kindly emailed us with a prettier alternative to the Pennine Way, this also has the advantage of going through the fascinating village of Keld-with information boards about its history-don't miss it. We followed the route they suggested from Thwaite, initially taking the Pennine Way up the hillside to Kisdon, then left up the Herriot Way sign posted to Keld 2 miles, going to the west of Kisdon Hill. This avoids a very rough path, is much

easier and far more enjoyable plus it has great views from the top as well, rejoining the Pennine Way at Keld to continue up to Frith Lodge.

Unfortunately we were hit by very heavy rain. Arriving in Keld we had a look round, and a coffee from the campsite (14 miles). The path then crosses the river up to Catrake Force, with a nice bench to look at the view from. This is a cross over point of the Swale Trail, Coast to Coast walk and the Pennine Way-creating a real problem in finding anywhere to stay. When we walked the Coast to Coast we stayed 4 miles off the path in the Tan Hill inn. In our book the walk ends in Keld, but we carried on, a few more miles to tonight's destination of Frith Lodge.

Frith Lodge is definitely the best accommodation of the trip, with a very friendly welcome from the owners who took a wreck of an old building, and created a stunning property. We had pre-booked the food in advance,3 courses £25.00-well worth it, there is a bar, with a great choice of whisky and wines. We ordered a packed lunch, for the following day, as except for Tan Hill there is nowhere to buy food. The views are fabulous, with rabbits playing out on the lawns too. We met fellow travellers, and enjoyed swopping walking tales.

Distance 16 miles 26 km

Duration of Walk 9 hours

Average pace of walk 32 minutes per mile

Elevation 2985 feet 910m

Information - ignore these opening times though cafe in Thwaite

Pennine Way Day 9 Frith Lodge Keld to Middleton-in-Teesdale, Yorkshire

We had spent a time studying this walk. Our original thought was to walk from Frith Lodge near Keld, to Bowes in one day, then Bowes to Middleton the next day. But looking at it again, this turned into 2 relatively short days. So we decided to skip Bowes, and head straight for Middleton, a distance of 19.5 miles with 2900 feet of ascent. Bowes and Middleton have a bus service to Darlington. Except for Tan Hill there is nowhere to buy food, we ordered a packed lunch from Frith Lodge.

After a fabulous breakfast at Frith Lodge, it was a late start leaving at 9am, turning right at the end of the drive straight up the Pennine Way, north to the Tan Hill pub. Frith Lodge was a fabulous location to stay, being directly on the path. An hour later we arrived at the very famous Tan Hill pub, this is the highest pub in Britain at 530m/1732 feet and gets snowed in in winter. It dates from the 17thC, originally on packhorse ways, during a time when coal mines operated in the local area. It is a very popular destination, being so desolate adds to the attraction. We have previously stayed in a yurt there, delicious large helpings of food are served, with bands and events held at the weekends. From here the owners of Frith Lodge had advised us not to take the Pennine Way across the moors, but go right to the very quiet road, called Long Causeway. It has fabulous views, and was great to make headway on the tarmac, whist watching a couple who had stayed at Tan Hill trying to pick their way across the bog. At 11am or 4.7 miles after leaving Frith Lodge there is a track to the left, signed Tan Hill/Sleightholme Moor Road, and number 71 bike run. At 11.40am (6 miles) we came to a junction, turning right to rejoin the Pennine Way.

Crossing Bowes Moor (with shooting huts) we arrived at Sleightholme at 12pm (7 miles). Passing the farm, then left through a gate, and over a stream. At 12.30pm we came to a junction, where the path splits right for Bowes. We went left towards Middleton arriving at "God's Bridge", (a natural feature of limestone over the River Greta) over a disused railway line, arriving at the very noisy A66 main road. Fortunately for us there is a tunnel underneath the road-admittedly rather smelly and dirty-strange in the middle of nowhere. It takes a long time to escape the noise of the road. but we sat and ate our delicious lunch from Frith Lodge, looking south thinking how far we had walked and we still had a long way to go!!!

The path heads north, over very pretty, empty moors. At 2pm we arrived at a black shooting lodge by a bridge. We headed uphill, then had fabulous views down to a reservoir, with the sun finally making an appearance. The afternoon seemed very long, with reservoirs and gently undulating countryside. We looked at the map to find any other routes. We passed Clove Farm at 3pm (13.5 miles) just before Blackthorn reservoir, through Hannah's Meadow nature reserve, continuing north. At How Farm 4.20pm (16 miles) which is found just before Grassholme Reservoir, we left the Pennine Way and turned right along the road, passing a sailing club. After the reservoir where a road meets the path from the right, we went left across a field and a stream, right along a track, then left along the Tees Railway path, following the disused railway line with interesting features. At Lonton we took a right, followed the River Tees, finally right over the bridge and arrived in Middleton at 5.30pm. The end

of a long day. We were pleased to have arrived, even if we were not on the correct route which seemed to go a long way round. We feel that as long as the destination is reached, it does not matter which way is taken. However, other people would disagree following the path whatever happens. The problem as we always find, is the lack of accommodation and food along the way, making the days sometimes longer than we would have liked and breakfast is served too late for an early start. We had walked 106 miles in 6 days, and were happy with this achievement.

We checked into the Teesdale Hotel, good value for money. It is an 18thC coaching house, impressive, but maybe has seen better days. There are plenty of places to eat, including our Hotel, but we bought some food from the Co-op, and ate outside. Middleton is a pretty town, with a few bus links. It was formally the world's greatest producer of lead, an industry that was here for nearly 2 centuries.

Distance 19.5 miles 31 km

Duration of Walk 8 hours 50 minutes

Average pace of walk 27 min per mile

Elevation 2925 feet 890m


Pennine Way Day 10 Middleton-in-Teesdale, Yorkshire to Dufton, Cumbria, UK

Out of all the days walking on this particular trip, this day is by far the best. It effectively crosses from one side of the Pennines to the other, going past the best waterfalls in the country, and remote valleys, until arriving at the sensational High Cup Nick, one of the highlights of the whole trip. It is a long lonely day, with little phone signal. Be prepared for bad weather high on the hills. We could not use Sherpa van services as we were travelling home after the day's walk, and there is no-where to drop the bag off in Dufton. In the guide book this day is spilt into 2, but looking at it ourselves, we hoped we could walk the 22 miles with 533m/1750 feet in one day. Then take the train home to Stockport too.-as it turned out it was a close call. Wish us luck.

As breakfast was not included in the room rate there was no excuse not to leave early-and fortunately we did. We were up at 6.15am, and waiting outside the Co-op store as it opened at 7am. We bought croissants for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. We left town at 7.20am the way we had arrived, with a cold wind blowing. We went down Bridge Street over the River Tees, past the cattle market, then followed a sign to the right for the Pennine Way. The path basically meanders across fields, following the left hand bank of the River Tees, leaving and joining it at intervals, sometimes along a stony path. It is all very pleasant and peaceful. At 8.30am we arrived at a bridge over the river to Newbiggin. At 8.45am we reached Wynch Bridge which leads to Bowless. The bridge built in 1830 is a grade 2 listed structure, with only one person permitted on it at a time. Compared to some of the bridges we have been on in The Himalayas together with herds of yaks, it seemed very safe and secure to us. Bowless visitor centre can be visited-but we had no time.

Beyond Wynch Bridge past a couple of stone sheep, Low Force waterfall came into view on our right. It is fabulous, but we were aware of better to come. Passing a bridge on the right to High Force Hotel, we entered the Bird Estate (9.30am).We met a fellow walker here Martin, from Sheffield who had stayed at High Force Hotel. (more later) A little further up the path we arrived at one of the highlights of the trip- High Force waterfall, with the thunderous noise of the waterfall heard before it is seen. There is a viewing platform with spectacular views, don't miss this as the only other view is at the top. High Force is England's most powerful waterfall. Low Force and High Force waterfalls have been created by the presence of a sheet of dolerite, in this area called The Great Whin Sill, the rocks of which are more resistant to erosion than the rocks above and below creating an interesting landscape.

We continued, at 10am there was a bridge over a tributary with another waterfall-this would normally have been a big attraction, but it was nothing compared to High Force. Continuing along the river, we took a bridge over it towards the tiny hamlets

of Forest-in-Teesdale and Langdon Beck where some accommodation may be found.

Back to river and over Saur Hill Bridge then passing Sayer Hill farm. The valley here is absolutely fabulous, with a remote feel that you rarely get in England. It follows the river first through meadows, with beautiful black and white cows, then the valley floor becomes very narrow, with a difficult rocky path along the bottom of Falcon Clints-another area of the Whin Sill. Take great care when clambering over the rocks, especially when wet.Eventually the valley opens out slightly and duck boards have been laid. We really did feel like this was the point of no return, 12pm and 10.5 miles covered, but we did meet a couple of people out on a day walk.

Just when we thought we had seen spectacular waterfalls, another one comes into view. Cauldron Snout is a huge torrent of water coming down from Cow Green reservoir. It is more of a long cataract than a waterfall, and at 180m long, reckoned to be the longest waterfall in England. The path is very tricky at this point entailing the use of hands to climb up the steep rocks on the right hand side. We sat at the top of the Cauldron eating our lunch (12.45pm), purchased in the Co-op earlier. Fortunately there is a bridge over the torrent just below the reservoir. It was cold as we continued at 1pm, with the wind whipping up. We followed the stony track, passing a farm, and a sign for Dufton 8 miles-we were happy with our progress. The track continues westwards, across high moors rising to 590m/1935 feet. The cinder path turns at times into a faint track, over small streams, and bog. It began to rain hard now, and with mist was not a very pleasant journey. Fortunately we could see Martin who we had met in the morning up ahead so could follow his route. Eventually we arrived at an old stone marker post, with a carved arrow indicating a right turn downhill. The path crosses a little stream at the top of High Cup Nick, the spectacular landscape here created by The Great Whin Sill. (4.20pm 17miles)

We were very cold and wet, but fortunately the cloud lifted in patches to reveal the fabulous U shaped valley, and the hills of the Lakes in the distance. We caught up with Martin and walked down to the village with him, always nice to hear of someone else's walks. The path follows the right hand side of the valley. On our descent the rain stopped, eventually we came to a track then turned right down the road to reach the village of Dufton at 5.15pm-another long day of walking but spectacular. We were very happy to arrive. Dufton is an Anglo-Saxon settlement built out of red sandstone, and like Middleton previously it is an area very important for lead mining. There is a pub (where we left Martin to meet up with his wife and friend), public toilets and a post office. We had previously checked out local taxi companies from Dufton to the train station in Appleby 3 miles away. But when we tried phoning them, they were busy or would not come out for us. We checked the time, and decided we would have to walk very quickly down the lanes to Appleby to catch our train. Fifteen minutes later a car stopped to offer us a lift, we were so happy to see it was Martin. They very kindly drove us and our large rucksacks to Appleby. We got there not only in time for the train, but with time for well deserved fish and chips which we ate on

the historic platform of Appleby Station. Another time we should have booked a taxi in advance, but having no mobile signal for most of the day, and not knowing the time we would arrive, made this problematic.

We had been so fortunate, meeting Martin was fortuitous, having him to follow for most of the day aided our navigation especially where the path was faint and through the mist. By kindly giving us a lift to Appleby station we were able to get home, via Leeds, Manchester and Stockport station. We travelled on part of the very famous Settle to Carlisle railway, going over the Ribblehead viaduct, passing through much of the countryside we had spent the previous week walking through. Arriving home happily at 11.30pm. Without a lift we would have missed the 7pm train, the lanes to Appleby being hilly, and a long way after a tiring day. We would have maybe had to stay in Appleby/Carlisle or Leeds, as we would not have made it home.

It had been a fabulous 7 days of walking with some stunning scenery. We were tired and elated, but very pleased with our weeks’ achievement. We are looking forward to completing the remainder of the walk to Kirk Yetholm, a distance of 100 miles/160km next year. We would also love to walk from Dufton up to High Cup Nick in good weather to see it in all its glory.

Don’t forget, life is a series of great adventures – go and have some. Happy walking.

Details of the walk

Distance 21 miles 33 km

Duration of Walk 10 hours 8minutes

Average pace of walk 29 per mile

Elevation 1728 feet 526 m




Day 11 Dufton to Alston, Pennine Way, England

The walk from Dufton to Alston is described as the hardest day of the Pennine Way, a distance of 20 miles, with 3,280 feet of elevation. We had read about the route which goes over Great Dun Fell (2,782feet) and Cross Fell (2,930feet). When the weather is good the views can be fabulous, but they also hold the English records for bad weather, and the infamous Helm Wind. This wind only blows from the north east, forming a cap of clouds on the fells. So, we were well prepared with food and drink and up early.

We left Dufton at 7.30am, picking up the Pennine Way sign by Dufton Farm house built in1779, round the corner from a house built in 1648, amazingly old. There is a sign for Garrigill 15 miles. We headed up the track for 200m, then turned left at a sign, walking along a lovely paved path by a stream. Ten minutes later we turned right up Hurning Lane, went through a gate, continuing along a muddy track, then crossing a stream (8.05am). In clear weather the path ahead can be seen, at 8.30am we went over a big bridge, then turned right up a steep slope towards Knock Fell. We had great views back over the Lake District, with cloud on the tops and rain in places. There is a hush to the right, then a disused dam to the left. A hush is a channel created when the miners built a small dam, then released a torrent of water to scour the hillside and reveal precious stones beneath-there are several in the area.

At 9.45am we reached the top of Knock Fell (2,604 feet) with a big marker post on the top. We were happy with our progress, having now completed most of the day’s elevation. It was misty, and a cold wind had picked up. Following the path, some old large mill stones had been placed across the bog, we always wonder how they seem to float on the top of the bog. However, quite a few of them were under a few inches of water, so we had to go on diversions, being careful not to sink into the bog ourselves. The path in parts is very faint here.

Our path briefly joined the service road (10.15am) to the antennae and radome on top of Great Dun Fell, before branching right. Alternatively, the road could be taken to the top. We arrived at the top of Great Dun Fell (2,780feet),10 minutes later. The antennae and radome used in air traffic control and recording the weather, suddenly loomed large in the mist. It was amazing that they did not come into view sooner. Carrying on downhill, the mist suddenly cleared with fabulous views all around, the first people we saw all morning came past us. Just before the top of Little Dun Fell (2,760ft) there is a rock carving showing the direction of the Pennine Way (11am).

We were very happy to reach the top of Cross Fell (2,930feet) at 11.45am. This is the highest mountain in England outside the Lake District, nearly being an acclaimed 3,000-footer. We met a couple who were walking from Land's End to John O’Groats, wild camping for most of the time. We decided that they did not seem that happy, having already spent 46 days on the road, and still had a long way to go. We only hoped that they made it. We sat in the re-built shelter on the top of Cross Fell eating our lunch with fabulous views to the Lake District, Solway Firth and Scotland beyond-described as one of the best views in England. We did not linger for long due

to the very cold wind, leaving at 12pm, happy that the main ascent was over. At 12.15pm we went right at a large cairn, arriving at Greg's hut at 12.30pm. We were intrigued to look round it having previously seen it on television and had just met a man who had stayed in it the previous night, having walked there from Alston. It did not disappoint with a small hall, living room with some plastic chairs and one large wooden bed, with some camping mats. A great place if you get stuck on the mountain.

Roman times, the whole area has been famous for lead and some silver mining. We passed workers’ houses now in ruins with great views and disused lead mine workings. Downhill still, we went left at a crossroad with a stony yellow road (1.20pm). This track provides easy walking and access to the summer grouse shooting. If in a hurry to get to Alston, there is a short cut after Pikeman Hill to the left to Leadgate road. But the Pennine Way continues through Garrigill, we arrived there at 3.10pm. We visited St John's Church, which was small pretty and old. We bought a lovely take-out coffee (£2.00) from the post office/small shop, and sat on a bench on the pretty village green. The impressive looking pub was being renovated. We continued along the road passing a house built as a girl’s school in 1850. To the right is a sign to Alston 3.75 miles, following the beautiful South Tyne trail, which we took. The final stretch of a walk always feels like the longest, but we spent a lovely hour chatting with a couple from Chester also walking the Pennine Way. The path goes uphill away from the river, passing a bench with a view, and Alston YHA. We were happy to arrive in Alston at 5.30pm, a ten-hour day.


It had been a lovely day, with a variety of scenery. We were so lucky to have fine weather for most of the day, giving us fabulous views and easy navigation. We thought the day was tough, but not as difficult as we had been led to believe. Without being complacent the walk is easier than it was when originally devised, due to modern navigational devices, modern walking kit (lightweight and waterproof) and many large stones placed over the boggy ground. When the Pennine Way was created it would have been a lot tougher. We treated ourselves to fish and chips for tea from "The Plaice to be in Alston".

Greg's hut is a remote bothy where in bad weather you could take shelter, 5 miles from a road. This was once a lodging house for lead miners who worked in the area, who only went home at the weekend. It was restored in 1972, and named in memory of John Greg-a mountaineer. There is no electricity, running water, or toilet. But it has got a wood-burning stove, a fresh water stream nearby, is out of the elements and free. We signed the visitors’ book before leaving. There is a bothy etiquette to follow too- leave it clean, shut doors and windows etc.

The pub in Garrigill is currently being renovated, apparently in an emergency you can sleep in the village hall. There is a small shop in the post office, which sells coffee.

Dufton is a very pretty village, with one pub, a donation car park, and public toilets. It used to be famed for lead mines, the Quakers who owned the mines greatly improved the village, with new houses and sanitation.

Alston standing at 920feet claims to be the highest market town in England, there is a variety of accommodation, at least 4 pubs, shops, beautiful old buildings, and churches dating from the C16th. where we stayed cash only chip shop

Distance 20.50 miles 33 km

Duration of Walk 10 hours

Average pace of walk 29 min per mile

Steps 45075

Elevation 3103 feet 946 m


Day 12 Alston to Greenhead, Pennine Way, England

After yesterday's arduous day, an easier day was in store for us, (or so we thought), with 17 miles, and 1,805 feet of elevation.

After reading about the route in advance there is a choice of two paths out of Alston. One is the official Pennine Way which seems to go a circuitous route through fields, stiles, gates etc. Or the relatively easier option of following the South Tyne Trail. We decided in advance to take the latter, missing the ruined Whitley Castle Roman Fort, but knowing there are plenty of Roman ruins to come. After talking to the cafe owner at Alston station, we decided to walk along the disused track from Alston to Lambley. We were told how wet the Pennine Way path might be and we could sink up to our knees in the bog, and also how pretty the viaduct is in Lambley. Some people are concerned about following the “correct path”, but we think sometimes it is more interesting to follow your own.

Leaving Alston station at 8.30am we went straight down the South Tyne Trail, which runs alongside the South Tyne railway line. After 30 mins there is a sign marking the border between the counties of Cumberland and Northumberland-the last county of the walk. We reached Kirkhaugh station at 9.20am, then passed Linley Halt station (10am). The trail is very well maintained with picnic benches at intervals, and information boards. We arrived in Slaggyford at 10.10am (5 miles), it is a pretty station, with toilets and a buffet car cafe, all unfortunately shut. Probably all open at weekends when the trains run from Alston to Slaggyford.

The train track ends here, but the path continues along the disused railway line , passing pretty woods, then is high above the South Tyne valley before crossing a small road, with the first view to Lambley viaduct. There is a diversion round Lambley station-now a private house, (a real shame) with steep steps down towards the river and then back up to the viaduct. We walked across the viaduct and back again, with fabulous views over the river South Tyne 90feet below. We followed the Pennine Journey path into Lambley, and sat on the grass in the sunshine to eat our lunch at 12.30pm. Happy with the 10 miles walked.

At 1.10pm we re-joined the Pennine Way near the A689 passing a colliery tip, then through Greenriggs farm at 2.05pm. There were large areas of peat bogs, some paths, with few signs, basically we tried to follow the faint path heading north. By 3.30pm we had left the bog, arrived at a gate, then turned right along a farm track, going back under the pylons. Finally, we crossed the A69 main road and walked down into Greenhead at 4.10pm.


This was a harder day than we thought it would be. The first ten miles were relatively easy along the disused railway line. But after that it was tough going across bog and moorland, the spongy ground is energy sapping. There are few signs, and at times the path is faint, or we lost it. Fortunately, we have O.S. maps on our phones, so could keep track of where we were. Again, we were so lucky with the weather, it was very windy, but clear with sunshine. At least we could see the direction we needed to head in.

The South Tynedale railway was built in 1851 to carry lead and passengers from Alston to Haltwhistle. It was closed in 1976, but has now been renovated and re-opened in 2018 between Alston and Slaggyford-running at weekends. It is hoped to continue the renovation to Haltwhistle. All along the path are interesting information boards about the history of the line, animals and plants found nearby.

Lambley Viaduct was completed in 1852, and used by the Alston railway branch until 1976. It is grade 2 listed, restored in 1996, then opened to the public as a walking/cycling trail.

The Pennine Way path could have been accessed at Linley, Slaggyford or Burnstones.

The Pennine Way meets the Hadrian’s Wall path in Greenhead, which has few facilities. There is a hotel, campsite and tea room-unfortunately shut when we arrived.

Distance 16.5 miles 26.5 km

Duration of Walk 7 hours 45 minutes

Average pace of walk 27 min per mile

Steps 34560

Elevation 923 feet 281 m

Day 13 Greenhead to Housesteads, Pennine Way, England.

An exciting day was in store, we were looking forward to following Hadrian’s Wall for today's relatively short distance of 10 miles (with 1,300feet ascent). We planned to be able to take our time, and look at the wall, milecastles and forts along the way. We thought that the path would be busier than the Pennine Way, with people following the Hadrian’s Wall trail from Maryport, Cumbria to Wallsend, Newcastle a distance of 84 miles. Other people we met walked from Greenhead to Bellingham-26 miles in one day-but we decided to take our time. This is also the most interesting section of the wall. We left Greenhead at 9am, a windy day was forecast. We went down a small road (B6318) to the right-hand side of the cafe, then turned right at an acorn sign (sign of a national trail). Carefully crossing the railway line and stream, then up a track with another acorn. We went to visit the ruined Thirwall Castle, which was built in the 13thC using stones from Hadrian’s Wall. It is well worth a visit with lots of information boards. We continued up a track, with a ditch to the left, across a road passing a quarry. We arrived at the wall sitting proudly on top of Walltown Crags, so happy to have found it. We followed the wall along the top of the ridge, then passed through a pretty forest to a lovely house (10.40am). The views were tremendous, with Whin Sill and the wall heading into the distance. We passed the ruins of Chesters Fort, and a farm that seems to have been built into the wall, with dry stone walls probably built with stone from the wall. We were lucky with the weather having blue skies with clouds and no rain, arriving at Cawfield quarry, car park and a new toilet block at 11.30am. Continuing to another gap, then up to the trig point on Winshields Crag (12.30pm). This is the highest point of the wall at 1,132 feet, the day was getting windier.

We sat in the lee of a wall to eat our lunch, then took a very steep rocky path up Steel Rigg, reaching the ruins of Milecastle 39 in another gap. Downhill again to a very famous Sycamore tree. This lone tree on Hadrian’s Wall is famous in its own right, but it also featured in the film Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991) starring Kevin Costner, and Morgan Freeman.

The path is so pretty with some of the best views of the walk, back to Cross Fell, north to the Cheviot and it would seem all of Northumberland. We could see Crag Lough through the trees. We arrived at Housesteads Fort, (£11.00 entrance) then the car park at 3.00pm with a toilet and cafe. If Parking here it is £10, with number plate recognition.


We were tired, and pleased to finish after walking just 11 miles. I think it is much tougher to be constantly walking up and down, than just heading uphill continuously. It had been a fabulous day; we loved the opportunity of walking next to something which is nearly 2,000 years old. We were so lucky with the weather, no rain, clear views, just 35 mph winds! We were pleased we had split the stage from Greenhead to Bellingham, so we had time to really enjoy the wall and Roman ruins. A quicker

route would have been to walk along a drainage channel/ Roman road, without so much elevation, rather than following the wall, or in bad weather.

To reduce erosion, you are advised to spread out across the path, instead of wearing away one particular route.

The Roman Emperor Hadrian ordered the building of the wall by soldiers in A.D.122, taking 8 years to build, it marks the north-western boundary of the Roman Empire. The walls were 12 feet high and 8 feet wide, and were interspersed with forts and milecastles. (A Roman mile is slightly shorter than a modern mile). For extra protection in places ditches were added on each side. I pitied any soldier stationed here, it was June when we visited, and it was a cold and very windy day. They must have wondered what they were doing!!!! It is now a world Heritage site. Historical remains could be visited at The Roman Army Museum and Housesteads Roman Fort, as well as many sites along the wall itself.

We met people walking along Hadrian’s Wall walking from east to west, we thought this odd as in England the prevailing wind blows from west to east, so that is usually the easiest direction to walk in (with the wind on your back). The people were really struggling against the wind the day we were there, and would not have been happy with the companies they had booked their trip with. Sycamore Tree Housesteads is the most complete example of a Roman fort in Britain, with stunning views.

Distance 11 miles 17.5 km

Steps 25100

Duration of Walk 6 hours

Average pace of walk 32 min per mile

Elevation 1317 feet 401m

Day 14 Housesteads to Bellingham, Pennine Way, England

The Pennine Way leaves Hadrian’s Wall at Rapidshaw Gap, a mile or so to the west of Housesteads becoming a lonely walk once again. It makes its way north to Bellingham over moorland, through forests and across countryside, a distance of 15 miles and 1,080 feet of ascent.

We left the gap at 9.10am over a stile, heading north once more. Fabulous views stretched out in all directions, back towards the wall, a lough on each side of the path, and forests up ahead. We followed the path with some boggy ground, and farm tracks, before going through a gate into the Wark forest at 10am. After 15 mins we came to a sign saying there is an alternative path to the main Pennine Way to avoid storm damaged forest, dated 9th June 2022, which we took a photo of. Looking at the forest I cannot see the original route being open for a few years, as so many trees are down. We picked up the original path and arrived at Ladyhill falconry centre at 11.45am. We were hoping for some shelter and a coffee, but sadly it is shut. There are rumours that a shelter would be available to Pennine walkers, but alas nothing.

We sat on a bench eating lunch, but then the rain began. We made haste for the next few miles along a cinder track (7 miles) taking us out of the Wark forest (part of the larger Kielder Forest), round a corner, crossing more fields, before arriving at a bridge with a sign to Horneystead Farm with a shelter (the only one of the day). It was a lovely stop out of the rain, there is a serve-yourself shelter, with chairs, toilet/shower, kettle, some food and a bed, on a donation basis (1pm 8.5 miles).

We continued over the fields, down a tarmac road (2pm), then over a stile back to the countryside (10.5 miles) over a river, passing Shitlington Hall at 2.15pm. Heading north up the track, passing a farm, then a relatively steep climb up the crags, arriving at the listening station on Ealingham Rigg (755 feet high). Turn right along a track, then left, when arriving at the next road, turn left and keep off the main road for as long as you can as far as Brown Rigg caravan site. Follow the road over a bridge, then turn right, walk alongside the river before reaching the very pretty town of Bellingham.


Storm Arwen affected large parts of the area in November 2021, bringing down millions of trees, and power lines. We had seen the storm damage on the news, but had not realised how badly the area had been affected. Whole areas of large (mostly pine) trees had been blown over, every forest that we walked through was damaged.

Bellingham is a lovely old town, with plenty of pubs, accommodation and a Co-op store. It is the last chance to buy for a few days. If you had spare time in Bellingham, Hareshaw Linn waterfall could be followed-the Pennine Way initially went this way before it was re-routed, (3 miles there and back). The Heritage centre also looked interesting in the former railway station.

We stayed in The Barn, Bellingham, we can’t recommend it highly enough. It was one of our favourite stays on the walk, being greeted by the very friendly owner Debbie. She could not do enough for us, recommending places to eat in the town, and phoning to book. Cooked breakfast was delicious.

We ate a lovely dinner in the Cheviot pub-glad that we had booked it in advance.

Take insect repellent, in the damp forests we met swarms of midges, which continued for the next few days. We met some ladies who had midge hoods on. If you think these nets are amusing then you have not experienced the midges. In the height of summer in Scotland, they are a real menace. Forest Storm Storm Room Dinner Waterfall in Bellingham

Distance 14 miles 22.5 km

Duration of Walk 6 hours 40 minutes

Average pace of walk 27 min per mile

Steps 32212

Elevation 1080 feet 330 m

Day 15, Bellingham to Byrness, Pennine Way, England

This is a day of 16 miles, 1,700 feet of ascent without passing any villages, spent amongst forest and beautiful moorland in Northumberland.

Following a delicious breakfast at “The Barn”, we left Bellingham at 8.35am, turning right at the post office, with no signs, passing the heritage centre, then up a fairly steep hill. We turned left at a sign for Byrness 14 miles, passing mine workings to the right. Going up the steep hill to Blakelaw Farm, then left at a sign. We crossed the bog, went through a gate, (9.55am) then over a bridge passing Hareshaw House, to a main road (B6320) arriving at 10.15am.

Crossing over by P.W. signs, there is a gradual incline over the spongy ground with some heather to the top of the very pretty Whitely Pike (1165Feet) at 11.15am, continuing for 15 minutes to a minor road at Gunstone (7miles). In very bad weather, poor visibility, or with very boggy ground, a left turn could be made here along the road, turning right up a track to Gibshiel, through the forest for a few miles, then re-joining the Pennine Way.

We continued north passing Padon Hill to the right, before entering the forest once more. There is a large area of land with felled trees, and those blown down by the storm in November 2021. There are lovely views, in the rain we were happy to walk along the wide forestry track, with a sign 9.75 miles to Byrness, hurrying along to avoid the large swarms of midges.

We arrived in Blakehopeburnhaugh (yes, a very long name), with a toilet block and picnic benches (2.30pm), continuing along the path by the pretty river Rede, then through a gate (3pm) passing Border Rest campsite. It was a pretty walk, with more felled trees. We crossed a bridge, then visited St Francis’ church built in 1786 with the Catcleugh Window dating from 1903. The window commemorates the 64 workers and their families, who died during the construction of the nearby Catcleugh Reservoir. We turned left along a path to arrive at Forest View Hostel at 3.30pm.

The hostel opens at 4pm, and is run by the very friendly Oliver and Laura, who provide delicious breakfasts, packed lunch, and dinner, as well as transport services. It is possible to camp in the garden, providing you eat dinner at the Inn.


We ordered dinner when we arrived at Forest View Inn, there is a good choice of starter, main course and dessert, with wine or beer, served at a communal table at 7.30pm. We had a lovely evening sharing walking adventures with our new friends from London, Chester, Canada and USA.

Byrness was originally a village built to accommodate the 1,000 workers employed to build Catcleugh Reservoir. I presume it was then re-built to house forestry commission workers planting Redesdale Forest. There appears to be no shop or food available other than Forest View Inn

If camping- Border Rest campsite charges from £10.00 per night including a shower.

There are various alternatives to the last 2 days of the walk.

1 Stay like we did at Forest View Inn, Byrness, then walk the distance over 2 days, with a pick-up and drop-off from the very friendly owners-included in the price.

2 Walk the 28 miles from Byrness to Kirk Yetholm, which would be feasible, but the longest day of the Pennine Way. It is debatable whether The Cheviot is part of the Way or not. So, this could be omitted, saving 2.5 miles and an hour.

3 Wild camp or stay at the mountain huts on the way. Hen Hole is 21 miles from Byrness. We met people who were doing this.

4 Get picked up from Cocklawfoot at the end of day one going to pre-booked accommodation following the route to Clennell Street

After the walk we were working out how long it would have taken us to walk from Byrness to Kirk Yetholm in one day. We descended 1,000ft to our pick-up taking 1 hour. Then the following day, arriving back at Windy Gyle at 10.20am.

We worked out that Day one from Byrness to Windy Gyle was 13.5 miles and 6 hours, then day 2 from Windy Gyle to Kirk Yeltham was 5 hours, 45 mins with 16 miles walked. If we deducted the optional walk to The Cheviot, that would save about an hour and 2.5 miles.

So, the total for a one day walk from Byrness to Kirk Yeltham would be 29.5 miles and 12 hours, or without The Cheviot 11 hours and 27.5 miles. We think given favourable weather, and skipping breakfast at Forest View Inn that this is achievable. Also, maybe we wouldn’t have spent so long chatting to people, looking at huts, and scenery etc, if we knew we had further to go-making our timings longer. Most years we walk the 3 peaks of Yorkshire with 5,200ft (1585m) ascent, and a distance of 24 miles (38Km), in under 12 hours, so a comparable walk really. Storm

Distance 16 miles 25.5 km

Duration of Walk 7 hours 5 minutes

Average pace of walk 26 per mile

Elevation 1772 feet 540m

Steps 34863

Day 16, Byrness to Trows, Pennine Way, England

We were slightly anxious about today as we were being picked up at Trows at 5pm, and would not like to keep anyone waiting. A Canadian couple we met left before breakfast to ensure they would not be late. Still, we reckoned 15 miles, with 2,800 feet of ascent should be doable in the time given.

A lovely breakfast chosen the night before was served at 8am. Leaving at 9am we visited the church, crossed over the A68 road at a sign, then turned right after Byrness House. The path goes up a steep slope through trees, crossing over forestry tracks, before emerging from the tree line, nice to be out on the hills again (9.25am). There were great views back over the forest, and Catcleugh reservoir which provides Newcastle with some of its drinking water.

We went through a gate (9.40am) passing the large Otterburn Ranges used for military training, apparently there is no live firing. But signs say don’t touch any military debris, as it may explode. We reached the top of Ravens Knowe (1729ft) at 10.30am, where some duckboards have been laid over the bog. It felt like big country all around us and we could see The Cheviot in the far distance. At 11.05am Coquet Head was reached, with a sign to Windy Gyle 8.5miles and Byrness 4miles. We skirted 3 quarters of the very large Roman fort of Chew Green, this must have been a desolate and inhospitable place to be stationed. After heading uphill, we turned right just before a new bridge. (6 miles 11.45am). There is a sign for Dere Street which the Romans built from York over the Scottish borders to the Antonine Wall, at this location it is now used as a bridleway-part of it is the A1.

We stopped to eat our lunch outside Yearning Saddle Mountain rescue hut, near Lamb Hill at 1pm. Check out the inside, as it has a very interesting distance chart of the Pennine Way, and other information This is a purpose-built mountain rescue hut (at 1445ft), 9 miles from Byrness. People do stay here-either planned or un-planned. We were happy with our timings so far, the others who were being picked up with us had gone on ahead. We reckoned that they would just have to wait longer for a lift.

Continuing over a large stile to the summit of Beefstand Hill (1844ft) 2.15pm, the path here goes in and out of Scotland and some of the fence forms the boundary. From there follow a few more large stiles, paved undulating paths, some boggy ground, and a sign Windy Gyle 1.5 miles.

We reached the top of Windy Gyle (2031feet) with a large cairn,13.5 miles walked, at 3.20pm, catching up with our fellow walkers. To get our lift back to Byrness, we followed the sign for the Coquet Valley 2.75 miles, which heads south, continued along the track down with trees to the left, passing Trow’s Farm (920ft), then Rowhope Farm. Continuing down the tarmac road at a leisurely pace for 0.5mile before reaching a white bridge for collection. We arrived at 4.20pm, plenty of time for our 5pm pickup, but in actual fact we were collected at 4.30pm, arriving back at the lodge at 5.15pm. If driving yourself, the road would be fairly tricky to navigate, being a single track with cars coming the other way, and sheep on the road too.

It had been a lovely day with fantastic views. We had great weather, less windy than previous days, and no rain. We also enjoyed the camaraderie of spending 2 days with the same people.


We were given a very useful card with detailed instructions so we would know where to locate our pick-up.

Distance 16 miles 25.5 km

Duration of Walk 7 hours 30 minutes

Average pace of walk 27 min per mile

Elevation 2488 feet 758m

Steps 34626

Day 17 Trows to Kirk Yetholm, Pennine Way, England

We are always in 2 minds about the last day of a walk, sad to be approaching the end, but very happy with our accomplishment of finishing, and making plans for another one.

Breakfast once again was at 8am, then 9 of us got a lift at 8.45am by the owners of Forest Lodge back up to Tors farm, where we had finished the day before, arriving at 9.30am. We then walked the 1.5 miles, 1,000 feet of ascent, back up to Windy Gyle, to resume the walk, arriving there at 10.25am. Happy to be back on track. At 11am we reached a sign to Clennell Street, and Cocklawfoot 2.5 miles, where alternatively we could have possibly finished the previous days’ walk. Clennell Street is an old drover’s road crossing the ridge at this point.

We reached a cairn near Crookedsike Head at 12pm (5 miles). At 12.25pm we reached a split in the path. We took the right-hand path to The Cheviot 1.25miles away. It is debatable whether The Cheviot is on the Pennine Way, obviously if short of time or in bad weather, give it a miss, saving about an hour. The paved path is relatively easy all the way to the top of The Cheviot (2,674feet. The large trig point is perched on a stone plinth. The military built a trig point here 200 years ago, since then 2 have sunk into the soft peat, hence the need for a 10ft-high stone base. We had been told that it lacked a view, but we were very impressed being able to see the North Sea glistening to the east. We sat and ate our lunch, joined by walkers coming up from Wooler. Leaving at 1.15pm, passing a small piece of wreckage from a crashed plane, arriving back on the main path at 1.45pm.

Continuing down a fairly steep slope to Auchope Rig Mountain rescue hut at 1600ft, a potential lifesaver. Again, pop inside and read the interesting visitor book, a great place to be out of the weather, and we had met walkers who were planning to stay the night in it. The last climb of our trip was to the top of The Schil (11 miles 3.15pm) with a fabulous panorama over Scotland, before continuing along the obvious path.

At 3.45pm we came to a sign for Kirk Yetholm 4.5 miles. For the final stage there is the choice of 2 routes, the lower one used to be the main one, but then suffered from a lot of erosion. Now the main path goes uphill once more for even better views, over Steer Rig and Whitelaw Nick, and is 0.5 miles longer. As time was moving on, we decided on the low route, arriving at 4.15pm by a ruin, turning right over a bridge near Burnhead (4.35pm). We went left at a gate, then up a track which became a tarmac road.

We arrived into Kirk Yetholm at 5.20pm, happy to see our recently acquired friends having drinks outside The Border Hotel. We called into the pub, where we were given a certificate and free half of bitter to celebrate the achievement. Unlike being on a Camino in Spain, we did not have to prove we had walked it. Maybe just the look of us gave it away! We took photos outside, observing the sign-end of the Pennine Way-and a very artistically arranged pile of boots. After our drinks we sadly said goodbye and congratulations to our new friends. It is a fabulous feeling to have walked so far, and now to be planning our next adventure.

Luckily today, we had the best weather of the last week, in pure sunshine and blue skies. Wearing shorts for a change. The views are tremendous, keep an eye out for merlins, buzzards, black grouse and wild goats.


Kirk Yetholm is a fairly remote place-in my opinion not the best place for a walk to end. If staying the night plan to book accommodation in advance, it was all booked up when we arrived. Also book dinner in advance. There is an infrequent bus service to Kelso, from where a bus could be caught to the railway station in Carlisle or Berwick. Alternatively, a couple of a people we met were catching a taxi to Edinburgh airport or straight to Berwick. But again, there are not many taxi companies, so book in advance.

On the other hand, it is a very pretty place, with St Cuthberts Way walk passing through. This could be followed for a couple of days to its end in Lindisfarne. Just a thought.

Distance 16 miles 25.5 km

Duration of Walk 8 hours

Average pace of walk 30 min per mile

Steps 59915

Elevation 2876 feet 876m



Advice for the Camino Norte


A couple of weeks before the walk we booked the first two nights’ accommodation. After that we like the freedom of walking along, then booking rooms usually on the day. The advantage of this is the freedom to decide on the day how far to walk. The downside is that you may not find anywhere to stay at your choice of destination, but this does depend on which Camino is taken and the time of year. Also, you have to carry all kit-which we do like to do, but some people we met were getting bags transported and obviously the company needs to know your destination. If having the labelled bag carried it does tend to be collected before 8.30am in the morning. Bags could be carried by Correos (post office), local taxis, or local transfer companies. Carrying less kit does make the walking more pleasurable, and we find longer distances could be covered each day. Once we were getting close to the Camino Frances and Santiago, we booked the final 5 days’ rooms just to make sure. We also prefer to stay in a double room, hopefully with an en-suite, instead of an albergue-which would give more choice of accommodation.

We usually use to book, but occasionally we contact hotels on their website or phone.

The hotels sometimes have seasonal prices, so you could weigh up the cost depending on when you travel. Also check the weather and number of people potentially on the walk, before deciding on which time of year to walk.

The route

Note in Galicia the scallop shells indicating the direction to walk face in either direction (maybe causing some confusion). So, remember once in Galicia follow the arrow and ignore the shell, just use the shells as guidance that you are on a Camino.

The “Compostela” is a document that arose from the need to authenticate a successfully pilgrimage. It first appeared in the 14thC and its structure has hardly changed since then: the name of the issuer and the pilgrim’s details. These days a card can be purchased cheaply from accommodation or maybe a church at the beginning of the walk, or on-line in advance of the walk from Wise Pilgrim. Stamps or cellos can be collected along the way, usually in accommodation or cafes. Churches where we sometimes collect the stamps were closed. On arrival in Santiago, we went to the Pilgrims office and received 2 certificates each for completing the walk, one in Latin and one with the number of miles walked. A scroll holder can be purchased to keep them in. For the last 100km 2 stamps are needed, however on the Norte this was not possible and we still got our certificates

Sometimes we used google maps to find cafes just off the route. Shame that they were not advertised along the route, and most Pilgrims missed them. Surely a lot of money could be made by the bar owners, if they advertised more.

We were surprised that there were alternative routes to some paths. Sometimes we could understand this as they either went nearer the beach or along the valley

instead of taking the mountains. However, we found the choice confusing especially in Galicia, sometimes, we were told to go one way as the alternative was dangerous or not signed, but we found no problem with any alternative taken, with signs, rooms and cafes found. On the last 2 days, I presume the alternatives are there to encourage walkers to take quieter routes than the very busy Camino Frances. In some places the old Camino route has been re-named the complementaria route, and a 2nd route added as the official one. Personally, we find as long as you have walked the whole distance to Santiago it does not matter if you take the old or the new.

Having done a couple of Caminos in Spain we tend to leave at 7.45am and walk for a couple of hours before having coffee and toast for breakfast.

Items to take

When walking in Spain we always take relevant guide books with us, purchased in England. We have found they are fairly hard to purchase in Spain, even in Spanish. We tend to use Cicerone Books, but others are available.

We used both guide books, gaining different information from each. The Wise Pilgrim guide seems to be produced every year, so is more up to date. Once you have worked out the format, it was very useful for the maps and information about towns which was lacking in the Cicerone book.

We wore boots, but not everyone did. We had a couple of days of wet weather making the paths extremely muddy and flooded in places, so we were very happy to wear them. We also take trainers, just in case of any problems with the boots.

Take fruit, snacks, cereal bars etc, and plenty of water as on some days there are no refreshments en-route. Unlike the Camino Frances there are no village fountains for water, and few cafes for food.

Take some cash/coins, just in case, but most places took a card, except for a couple of hotels and cafes. Coins were handy for any drink dispensing machines that you may find.

We took gloves and winter hats, it was very cold and wet on occasion (in May). We also took umbrellas, ponchos and waterproof coats-we had one day of heavy rain. Personally, we find waterproof trousers are too warm. Take trekking poles, if necessary, especially in the mud,

As usual take sun tan lotion, sun hats, tick card, insect repellent, spare laces, and a good first aid kit, as there are few pharmacies en-route (and sometimes closed all afternoon). Take a phone and battery chargers, so the apps can be used.

List of Accommodation Gijon Aviles El Pito La Ballota Luarca La Caridad Ribadeo Hotel Casa Goas Vilalba hotel in Parga hotel Pension via Sacra, Sobrado Pension O’ Retiro, Arzua hotel with restaurant Pension 22-Vinte a Tres, Arzua Hotel BNOR Santiago

Places we ate at along the way pizza in Gijon El Pito Luarca Café in Goiriz Dinner in Sobrado very good restaurant in Arzua Unmissable bar

Other useful websites https// great building near Gijon Dolmen near Aviles

Books we used

The Camino del Norte, a Wise Pilgrim guide, available on-line, then posted out..

Cicerone Pilgrim Route-Camino del Norte, by Dave Whitson and Laura Perazzoli. We have a new copy and older one. In the older one the maps are in so much better detail than the new version. The routes could also be downloaded in GPX format, depending on the type of mobile device people have.

In the words of the most famous hiker – Alfred Wainwright, in relation to the Coast-to-Coast Walk.

I want to encourage in others the ambition to devise with the aid of maps their own cross-country marathons and not be merely followers of other people's routes: there is no end to the possibilities for originality and initiative.

Don’t forget, life is a series of great adventures – go and have some. Happy walking.