In April 2019 I attempted my most physically challenging adventure to date – to through-hike the Pennine Way. After 14 days of grueling hill climbs, long days and sore feet, I crossed the finish line at Kirk Yetholm, just north of the border in Scotland. This is my diary of how the journey went, together with advice for future hikers.
What is the Pennine Way?
The Pennine Way is a 268 Mile National Trail that runs from Edale in Derbyshire, through to Kirk Yetholm in Scotland, following the course of the Pennine hill and mountain range that runs south to north through England. It was the first of several national trails to created and was officially opened in 1965, 30 years after the idea was first mooted.
Section vs Thru-hiking
The Pennine Way was originally designed to be walked from end to end in a single journey of 17 to 21 days, with a series of youth hostels being built along the way. In recent years the number of thru hikers has fallen to a relative trickle (I only encountered 2 thru hikers heading southbound on my entire 17 day trip) and many of the youth hostels have now closed. There has, however, been an explosion in the number of section hikers who complete the whole trail by breaking the trip down in to small day, weekend or full week sections – to fit around work and family life.
As a teacher I was lucky to have 2 weeks holiday in April, which gave me 17 days in which to complete the trip (Easter Monday fell on the day we otherwise would have returned to school!).