A Pennine Journey

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Part of the route, 'Gilbert Lane', approaching Buckden Pike

A Pennine Journey is a circular walking route of 247 miles around the Pennines developed in homage to Alfred Wainwright, the great fell walker and author. It passes through five counties: Yorkshire, Westmorland, Cumberland, Durham, and Northumberland.


In September 1938, Alfred Wainwright made a solitary walk through the Pennines, setting off from Settle in the West Riding of Yorkshire and heading for Hadrian's Wall after eleven days on foot, he arrived back in Settle, having walked for 211 miles. The following year he wrote up an account of this walk, which was eventually published in 1986 as A Pennine Journey: The Story of a Long Walk, and which is still in print.

Wainwright's route took him northwards through the countryside of the Yorkshire Dales, through the upper dales of the Wharfe, Ure and Swale, and across into Westmorland. He walked over the wild moorlands around Tan Hill@ until he came to the fells where the rivers Tees, Wear and Tyne rise. Dropping down into the Tyne Gap in Northumberland, he reached Hadrian’s Wall close by Hexham. He then followed the wall westwards and south across the Pennine ridge at Alston in Cumberland, passing through Appleby (in Westmorland) and Ingleton and onward back to Settle.

In the 1990s, David Pitt of the Wainwright Society devised a new circular route as a recreation of Wainwright's walk, but adapted for today's roads and rights-of-way. He chose what he considered to be a route that Wainwright might have chosen were he planning it today, and called it 'A Pennine Journey': he and his wife first walked it in September 1998, the 50th anniversary of Wainwright's Pennine journey. This walk is 247 miles long.

The route

Across Ribblesdale to Pen-y-Ghent

The route has been divided by David Pitt into 18 stages. It starts and finishes in Settle in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It then heads up through the dales on the eastern side of the Pennines and into County Durham to Northumberland and Hadrian’s Wall. After following the Wall for 21 miles, the route heads south on the western side of the Pennines and into the Eden Valley through Cumberland and Westmorland through Mallerstang Common, skirting the Howgill Fells in Yorkshire then back through the Dales to Settle.

It has been suggested that the walk could completed as one two and a half-week walk, or be divided into two or three natural stages of 120 or 80 miles each.

The suggested 18-stages are set out as follows:[1]

High Force, in Teesdale
Housesteads Fort
From Pendragon Castle in Mallerstang, Westmorland
Section Distance Ascent
1 Settle to Horton-in-Ribblesdale 7.25 miles 1,788 feet
2 Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Buckden 12.75 miles 2,195 feet
3 Buckden to Gunnerside 17.5 miles 2,851 feet
4 Gunnerside to Bowes, Yorkshire 17.5 miles 2,152 feet
5 Bowes to Middleton-in-Teesdale 12.5 miles 1,634 feet
Yorkshire to County Durham
6 Middleton-in-Teesdale to Westgate 15.75 miles 2,290 feet
County Durham to Northumberland
7 Westgate to Blanchland 10.75 miles 1,522 feet
8 Blanchland to Hexham 11.75 miles 1,430 feet
9 Hexham to Housesteads 15.5 miles 2,175 feet
10 Housesteads to Greenhead 9.75 miles 1,526 feet
Northumberland to Cumberland
11 Greenhead to Alston 17 miles 2,451 feet
Cumberland to Westmorland
12 Alston to Milburn 16.75 miles 2,500 feet
13 Milburn to Appleby-in-Westmorland 8.25 miles 771 feet
14 Appleby to Kirkby Stephen 16 miles 1,585 feet
Westmorland to Yorkshire
15 Kirkby Stephen to Garsdale 12.25 miles 1,909 feet
16 Garsdale to Sedbergh 13.75 miles 1,949 feet
17 Sedbergh to Ingleton 17.75 miles 3,133 feet
18 Ingleton to Settle 14.25 miles 3,081 feet
Totals: 247 miles 36,942 feet of ascent

Outside links



  • Wainwright, Alfred: 'A Pennine Journey: The Story of a Long Walk in 1938' (Frances Lincoln, 2004) ISBN 9780711223998
  • Pitt, David and Heather: 'A Pennine Journey: From Settle to Hadrian's Wall in Wainwright's Footsteps' (Sigma Press) ISBN 978-1910758144
  • Walker, A: 'In Wainwright's Footsteps: The Pennine Journey' (CM & CK Cocks, 2017) ISBN 78-0995604315