The Pennine Way Southern Section

Pen-y-Ghent and limestone clintsThe original Hebden Packhorse BridgeBeautiful Heptonstall villageStoodley PikeBridge over  the River RibbleOrange Tip butterflyLimestone cliffs. MalhamThe Way up Pen-y-Ghent

The Pennine Way Southern Section

Trip Highlights

  • The First half of one of the World’s Great Walks
  • Varied and at times remote walking
  • Beautiful and interesting natural features: waterfalls, dales, rivers and fells
  • Summits of Pen-y-ghent, Great Shunner Fell and associated peaks
  • Remote and romantic places: The upper Tees valley, Top Withins and the Cheviots
  • Fascinating Villages and small towns

Trip Summary

The first half of the challenging Pennine Way, you start from the scenic Derbyshire Dales at the pretty village of Edale passing Kinder Scout via Jacobs Ladder. Continuing over Mill Hill and boggy Bleaklow Head the walk winds to the Reservoirs around Torside and follows a corridor of hills, reservoirs and gritstone outcrop edge pass the suburbs of Manchester, Oldham and Huddersfield. It crosses over Black Hill and into Yorkshire, passing the needle-like Stoodley Pike monument to alight on lovely canal threaded Hebden Bridge in the Calder Valley. A steep climb via Historic Heptonstall brings you into remote moorland countryside passing the romantic Top Withins of 'Wuthering Heights' fame. Up again onto the moors you pass the old shooting huts around Cowling, then the path leaves the high moors and enters green livestock farming land undulating through quiet villages like Thornton in Craven. The Path toys with the Liverpool to Leeds Canal, offering an easy mile or two. Then follows the River Aire, more or less to Malham, a tourist mecca and for good reason. The geology changes from Gritstone to Limestone, and the village makes the most of the natural features that come with karst scenery especially beautiful Malham Cove. The walk continues past the cove, round half of Malham Tarn and then into bleak limestone moors over lonely Fountains Fell and down and steeply up one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks: Pen-y-ghent (693m). The Pennine Way soon joins the Cam High Road, a woolpackers route in the middle ages, but actually built by the Romans as a transpennine route for their marching legions. Desending to Hawes,you are right at the heart of Wensleydale, perhaps the most iconic of the Yorkshire Dales, with its cheese factory, market and pubs. A big stage opens up from there over Great Shunner Fell at 716 metres, the highest peak so far and into Swaledale. The way bypasses tiny Keld and goes straight up back into the hills arriving at the historic Tan Hill Inn dating back to the 17th century, which is Britain’s highest public house at (528m). From here Sleightholme moor is perhaps the bleakest area of the southern half of the way and there are some quiet sections before the way traces over the hills and reservoirs to the attractive small market town of Middleton-in-Teesdale.

Suitability

Challenging. Not recommended for first time multiday walkers. Generally long days with some steep climbs and descents. There are long lonely sections where there may be few people about. Most days have little shelter from the weather so you must be prepared. Some sections have faint paths and in a few places waymarks are missing. Anyone used to hill walking/ mountain hiking with a daily height gain / loss of 3,300 feet (1000m) per day, walking up to 10 hours on occasion, should be able to cope with the walk. You must be comfortable climbing up over stiles, walking on steep rocky and boggy terrain. You must be reasonably proficient navigating with map and compass and able to problem solve. A head for heights is not generally an issue, but care is needed for example on some steep paths. Mixed weather can be expected.

Itinerary

Make your own way to the very pretty and yet small village of Edale sitting at the foot of the mountainous plateau called Kinder Scout that stands as the first challenge of the route.The valley developed in medieval times as a cattle farming area and later there was an active milling industry. Today the village is popular with walkers and day trippers. Only a tiny minority are here for the Pennine Way. There is a national park visitors's centre and a couple of nice pubs for a meal. Accommodation: Originally built in 1798, an original Barn conversion, lovingly made into a comfortable family run guesthouse. It is situated in the farming hamlet of Ollerbrook Booth, a few hundred metres from the centre of the village.

Meals:  Nil

The walk traditionally starts from a pub called 'The Nag's'Head', just across the road from this is a tiny section of wall with a gate and a plaque mentioning the start of the walk. The route today trundles through beautiful farming countryside, before a steep ascent, skirting the actual summit of Kinder Scout and reaching a top height of 633m. The routing is safer than it used to be and easier to follow in the sense that you are kept off the top of the peak and on a generally good path initially up over a steep paved mule trail called Jacobs Ladder and up towards Kinder Downfall, the main waterfall from the massif which often blows uphill when it is windy! The way then descends from Kinder and then avoiding bogs, along a long section of paved walkway from Mill Hill crossing the A57 road and up to very bleak Bleaklow Head before a long and in places steep descent via Torside Clough to Torside reservoir. Accommodation: Our cottage is all alone in countryside about 600 metres off the Pennine Way in the Longdendale Valley overlooking the Rhodeswood reservoir. Comfortable rooms and drying area. Evening meals normally have to be obtained from a pub a few miles away, and there is a small taxi service for a few pounds.

Meals:  B

A fairly straight forward undulating day across the moors passing several small to medium sized reservoirs.The walk strikes North steeply above the Crowden Brook. There are some beautiful view points as you ascend among sandstone rocks and along various edges. Some care is needed especially in wet and windy weather. Eventually from the rock edges you descend to make a number of stream crossings and once this is past you are finally on a a newish stone pavement section which takes you up over Black Hill (580m). The summit, which was once so difficult to reach is now easy, and marks the border between Derbyshire and West Yorkshire. The path then descends on the stones down to the busy A 635 road which you cross to leave on Wessenden Head Road which connects with a series of gravel and grassy tracks that pass by the two pretty Wessenden Reservoirs. There is then a steep rough ascent beside Blakey Clough and then sections of grass and stone pavement passing Swellands and Black Moss Reservoir until you reach the A62 Manchester road at Standedge where there is a railway and canal tunnel burrowing through the hills. Accommodation: At Standedge accommodation is a bit spread out and so you will have to walk a mile or two off the actual route to find it. One place is an originally 15th century Inn in the small village of Diggle. The others include small farm and Barn B&Bs.

Meals:  B

From Standedge the walk continues up alongside another series of edges and Moorland hills with views over towards the large urban conurbations around Oldham and Manchester. After a brief dalliance on an ancient packhorse road and perhaps a lunchtime rest at the White Horse Inn, the Pennine Way passes three reservoirs before winding up to the needle shaped Stoodley Pike monument (402m) that you can see for over 5 miles before you reach it. This is one of the classic viewpoints along the route. There follows a long descent into the attractive old mill town of Hebden Bridge where there are several accommodation’s and lots of places to eat. This interesting place has attracted 'alternative lifestyle' characters over the past few years and has a good selection of shops and eateries. This is a worthy detour, just over a mile off the route of the path and is a good place to consider a day off although it is early into the walk. Accommodation: We use several possible guest houses or an Inn in the town, all of reasonable standard and welcoming to walkers.

Meals:  B

Start on the well waymarked Hebden Bridge loop via the pretty village of Heptonstall. This is initially a steep climb, but soon you are back on the trail and heading up to Colden where you can have a pint of tea at Highgate Farm. The trail then crosses the moors of Clough Head Hill descending on good tracks passing three reservoirs to then ascend Withins Height End (448m) and slightly down to Top Withins, famed for its possible connections with Emily Brontes 'Wuthering Heights'. The way then gradually descends through farms to Ponden reservoir past Ponden Hall and a possible accommodation. From Ponden a steep climb follows over Old Bess Hill (430m) and over Ickornshaw Moor on good tracks passing little black huts called ‘Cowlings’ that were used as shooters sheds and into the village of Cowling. Accommodation: Tonight something different, you will be staying in a modern 'cowling' complete with a small kitchen and a shower. Breakfast is not included but there is a village shop to buy anything required. Note accommodation is extremely limited in this area. If we cannot get you into the Shepherds Hut in Cowling it means that you will be in the B&B at Ponden. Ponden is approx. 7 km / 4.5 miles before Cowling which will mean that a couple of taxi transfers will be required (not included in the price). It would be also worth considering staying in Ponden if you would like an extra day to visit the Bronte House in Haworth, which is a couple of miles away.

Meals:  B

If you have got a bit tired of the rather bleak moors, this bridging day takes you between the end of the grit stone peat bogs for a while and into brighter limestone countryside. Today you pass through some attractive more lowland rolling countryside, passing the pretty village of Lothersdale and then a short section beside the Leeds and Liverpool canal, with a possible cream tea or pub break. Now in the Craven Valley the geology begins to change to limestone after Gargrave, and you finally follow the River Aire towards the popular tourist hotspot of Malham: a small village a mile away from a famous Limestone escarpment popular with climbers and hikers. Peregrine falcons can sometimes be see wheeling around here. It is quite a long day and surprisingly tiring, probably owing to the number of stiles and small undulations although most of the ascent is done in the early part of the day. Accommodaion: In Malham we generally stay in one of the beautiful old stone coaching Inns in the centre of the village. The other alternative is a quiet small hotel near the stream, tucked away from the centre.

Meals:  Nil

An iconic classic Pennine Way day stage, with lots of physical beauty and potentially great views. Now you are in the Yorkshire Dales National park and the trail climbs steeply up the cliffs of Malham Cove to walk along the limestone pavements into Watlowes Valley. Eventually you will arrive at beautiful Malham Tarn where you walk around half the lake before ascending up just bypassing Fountains Fell (670m). After this the whale back like hump of your high point for today can be seen. This is the peak of Pen - y - ghent (694m) which is well known to walkers of the "Three Peaks Walk" or the "Three Peaks Cyclo cross Race." The downhill route to Horton in Ribbleside is quite clear on an improved gravel track, passing Tarn Bar enroute : A tiny version of Malham Cove. At the B6479 road you will find it hard to resist the temptation to visit the Pen-y-ghent cafe if it is still open when you arrive and you can sign the book for 'Way' goers. Accommodation: In Horton you will be staying at either of the two main Inns, One has some have rooms facing the peak of Pen-y-ghent. There is also a local B&B. All are popular and walker friendly. Both pubs serve evening meals.

Meals:  B

From Horton you walk up through Birkwith Moor with impressive dales scenery and views of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, Whernside, Ingleborough and (behind you early on in the day) Peny-y-Ghent once again and it is worth trying to locate the stream tumbling into Calf Holes Cave only to reappear a bit further on at Brown Gill Cave. The route eventually climbs to join the Roman High Road at Cam End (438m) a very bleak location and then the trail intersects with "The Dales Way". The walk edges around Dodd Fell reaching nearly 600m, before dropping down through farmlands to the village of Gayle to the bustling market town of Hawes on the A684. Accommodation: A selection of B&Bs with ensuite rooms are avialable in Hawes. One doubles as an art studio. Sometimes you may also stay in an old coaching Inn.

Meals:  B

Potentially a beautiful but perhaps the hardest day up to now, with three major climbs through archetypal dales scenery with green pastures, drystone walls and winding rivers and then over sections of high fell moorland. Leaving Hawes there is a brief flirtation with the River Ure before the start of the main long ascent of the day up Great Shunner Fell (716m), the third highest mountain in Yorkshire and then steeply down into Thwaite. This is a good place to have a Cream Tea before continuing steeply up again where the path skirts the lower slopes of Kisdon and drops down bypassing the tiny settlement of Keld. The next ascent leads you out of the Swale valley, passing one potential B&B but generally you will continue another three miles to Tan Hill at 526m. Leaving Keld behind there is a dramatic change in the landscape into unkempt wild moors with little trace of human activity other than a few sheep grazing and evidence of the old coal mine workings. The contrast with the ‘Fat of the Land’ type valleys of Wensleydale and Swaledale is stark! Accommodation: The famous 17th Century pub at Tan Hill is an iconic, but certainly not a luxury establishment, It has, basic ensuite rooms and looks and feels old fashioned, but it is all about the location: The highest pub in England and a cozy place to hole up when the weather is raging. It has a great bar and nice pub food. The Blacksheep brewery has donated a dedicated snow plough, just in case you get stuck. Also three miles before Tan Hill there is a very nice B&B on the way up from Keld. This may be used, but it will mean a longer walk tomorrow.

Meals:  B

After the bleak moors around Tan Hill, the day is spent leaving the Yorkshire Dales National Park and entering the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This is often a stage where compasses come out as some of the tracks are quite faint! From Tan Hill, at 526 m, walking along Sleightholme Moor for a few miles can be very misty and muddy. If you have reasonable visibility, Tan Hill recedes to a tiny point on a hill which you can see for ages until you descend towards some reservoirs. The trail divides at Trough Heads You could follow the ‘Bowes Loop’ option if you like, but it adds four miles onto the walk and may be too much. We recommend that you follow the normal route which leads you to cross the River Greta via a slab of stone: "God's Bridge" and underpass the busy A66, before continuing on through the moors to Blackton Reservoir thus avoiding Bowes. After the bleakness of the moors today the meadow walks over the rolling hills past the Blackton and Lunedale reservoirs, are pleasant enough before the route passes Harter Fell and drops down into the valley of the river Tees and the pretty village of Middleton-in-Teesdale, which has shops, tea-shops and a couple of pubs. Accommodation: Attractive B&B with individually designed and decorated ensuite rooms in a style that reflects the many period features of the house such as Georgian fireplaces and exposed beams whilst incorporating all modern conveniences.

Meals:  B

Depart Middleton-In-Teeside for your onward journey.

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • 9 breakfasts
  • 10 nights accommodation on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities where available
  • One piece of luggage per person transferred from Inn to Inn, not exceeding 20kg
  • Information pack including route notes & maps (1 pack per room booked)
  • Emergency hotline

What's Not Included

  • 1 breakfast, dinners, lunches & beverages
  • Entrance fees
  • Travel to the start and from the end point of the trip
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Unscheduled transfers required during the trip

Upcoming Travel Dates

AT A GLANCE

Duration:11 Days
Countries:England
Starting Point:Edale
Finishing Point:Middleton-In-Teesdale
Activities:Self-Guided Walking
Grade:challenging  Click for more information
Trip Code:WPA
Prices From:GBP£870 Per Person
single supplement:GBP£310  Click for more information