The Pennine Way according to the official guide book is 256 miles (412kms) long. However, by the time you have completed the walk you will probably have done a fair bit more due to the various diversions you will no doubt make.
The trail, which was mainly devised by Tom Stephenson in the 1930s, generally follows a high route along the back of the Pennines from the Peak District to the Tyne Valley and after a short section following Hadrian’s Wall goes north to reach the Scottish border at Kirk Yetholm by way of the lonely and remote Cheviots.
The Pennine Way was Britain’s first national trail and more recently, apart from a short section at its southern end, now forms part of the European long distance path called the E2. Full details of this European route can be found on the Rambler’s Association website.
There are two main ways of walking the Pennine Way. The first is to do the walk in stages, taking it a day or a weekend at a time. The other is to do the walk “in one”, i.e. start at Edale or Kirk Yetholm and walk to the other end in one continuous walk. Most people walk from south to north, mainly because most guide books are written this way, and because the wind and the rain are usually at your back. The last section over the Cheviot is the longest without civilisation (apart from two B&B off-route – with limited beds and a bunkhouse at Mount Hooley) on the route and is best left to the end if you intend doing this section in one day. Many people take two days and come off-route and B&B or camp. Which ever way you decide to do the walk, you will not be able to use youth hostels all the way. This means that you will have to use B&B or camp some nights. If you decide to camp all the way there are good campsites, many of which provide showers etc. so you do not have to rough it too much. Natural England produce a free accommodation guide. This can be ordered via their website at www.nationaltrail.co.uk/pennineway. The Association also publishes a ‘Pennine Way Memento’, similar to a certificate, with sketches of highlights of the PW by John Needham. It is an ideal memento of your walk and modestly priced at £3.00 including postage.
A detailed description of the route is obviously available in the various guide books (see recommended reading) whilst The Pennine Way Official Website gives quite detailed maps of the entire route.
We in the PWA feel that everyone has different objectives relating to The Pennine Way. For those who intend to do the walk in one go, we detail below a suggestion taking 18 days which would probably extend to 21 days allowing for rest days and travel back home.
However, with the increased leisure time that many people now have there are also many suggestions to do part of The Pennine Way and combine with one or more of the many other fine long distance paths which connect with the route. Details of these are available from Tourist Information Centres or from the Rambler’s Association.