Up the Pennines (Week 1)

The Pennine Way, what is it?

The first of the National Trails in the UK, it is 267 miles, runs N/S along the Pennine mountains.  It flows through the Peak District, the Yorkshire Dales, a short segment along Hadrian’s Wall, Northumbria, and into Scotland.  The Highest Pub in the UK also sits on this walk at Tan Hill.

Getting around the UK…

is super easy without a car. I landed in LHR, took a train to Kings Cross station for the night.  Then took a train to Sheffield in order to do all the final stock ups (food and fuel).  Then grabbed the Northern express train to Edale.  Spacing each move to a day also allows for a bit of jetlag recovery.  Every experience I have had in the UK has been similar.  In 2022 I had a similar easy time heading up to Glasgow for the West Highland Way.  If you have dealt with air travel to your trail head destinations in the US, you know how much of a hassle it can be.

Day 0: Edale to Upper Booth Farm

Okay, day 0 not because I am trying to be all British, but because even a month out I was unable to score a place to stay in Edale, so I opted to walk 1 1/4 mile into the Upper Booth Farm.  The real mileage starts tomorrow.  I arrived in Edale pretty early. so made the jaunt out to my first campsite and setup.  I headed back to Edale for lunch at the Old Nag’s Head Inn which is in a building that dates back to 1577.

British walking despite the weather can be pretty posh in the grand scheme of things. Even with the combination of site pitches, wild camps, and one or two pubs along the way, I could probably get by with no more than a day’s worth of food and a ton of lunch snacks.  That said, this is a training walk for TGO, so I am carrying enough food for my planned Wild Camps over the first week.

(real) Day 1: Edale to Crowden

And we are off.  Today we head further up into a valley to a climb that takes us onto the Kinder Plateau, a big flat moorish plateau.  After that we venture along some pretty mellow but wet rolling terrain, and then descend almost as directly as we ascended at the beginning.  They are not big on switchbacks here.  The high point is called Kinder Scout, and it is one of my Summits on the Air peaks.

The climb up is a named ascent called Jacob’s Ladder and goes straight up 1,000 feet in a mile of stone stairs.  Once I achieved Kinder Low, I played radio for a bit, but the winds were wreaking havoc on my ability to hear. After an hour of that, I packed up and moved on.   The winds were ripping pretty good today, to the point that the waterfall on the River Kinder was blowing up instead of flowing over.

It was a lot of soft and soggy walking, and after Snake Pass the Way can be hard to find in some areas.  There are some impressive views to be had along this stretch as well.  I managed to roll into the Caravan club with enough daylight left to pitch up.  Not a bad day for a total of 16ish miles.

Day 2: Crowden to Marsden:

The original plan was to do a high camp somewhere N of the M62, but a big storm had been hanging around the past couple of days and I wanted a break from the rain and wind, so at Wessenden head I descended on into the cute village of Marsden

An earlier start then the day before because I wanted to be ahead of the scheduled fell runner race.  I also had another SOTA summit on route today, and wanted to make sure I had time.

After a bit of walking (climbing), a group of three caught me, asked the usual “Heya, doing the Pennine Way?”  Turns out one of them is an admin for the Pennine Way walkers group on Facebook, and all three of them are regulars to that forum. They were out looking for a crashed plane site somewhere near the Way. We walked together for a couple of miles, but at a creek crossing we went different directions. Because the path was covered with water, and braided with the Crowden Great Brook, I decided to slip my sandals on.  If my feet are going to be wet, might as well let them breathe.

I did play a little radio up on Black Hill, but nothing worth getting excited about. However, for the hour or so I was up there, I went from having the Trig Point all to myself, to lots of people coming from all over. I wrapped up and moved on after an hour or so. The way starts to descend from the Trig Point heading towards the A635. Cross over the road and follow the path dropping in towards Marsden. It’s pretty much all downhill with a creek crossing that I had to get creative with.

At the A635 Carpark there is this odd sculpture.  Apparently, there are two more just like it elsewhere on the way.  It is a nice reminder though to stop and just take it all in.

From here continue on down into the valley along the Wessenden Reservoir.  Once I hit town, I bumped into someone else from the FB page, and she had some wonderful options for pubs to visit. Found a good chippy and ended up at The Riverhead Brewery Tap. After a couple of pints, it was time to turn in.  Today was a little more than 10 miles.

Day 3: Marsden to Blackstone Edge Reservoir.

End of the lineI snagged a brief sunny weather window to start the jaunt out of Marsden.   The canal here is part of the Standedge Tunnels, which go through (not over) the hills to Huddersfield.   Continuing up and out of Marsden I came across the Easter Gate Bridge.  From here on its good track on a Packhorse Trail to the A640.

Easter Gate Bridge

About 30 minutes later (mile to mile and a half), there is a great little spot for second breakfast, or lunch or if you happen to wild camp nearby then breakfast.  Nicky’s food cafe, which is in a container along the side of the road is a nice surprise on a walk like this. This is not a trail angel setup, but a full working cafe.

Continuing along, I was starting to develop some pain in my right foot related to an old sports injury, and to be fair I have not had good luck with Xero’s when I walk in the UK.  The Sierra no problem, but something about these stone paths just cause me issues in barefoot shoes.  It also did not help that the weather really decided to go full British on me; the skies opened up quicker than I could get my wets on, and a constant 30+mph wind was hammering from the SW (so pushing me).  I walked a little past the Blackstone Edge Reservoir, and inside my body was saying “don’t push it”.  At Blackstone Edge Reservoir there is a pub and a bus stop, so I limped back to the pub, waited for a bus and headed to Manchester.  After feeling around where things were hurting and such, it turned out to be a bone bruise, and nothing really serious.  Not sure if it was the three miles in sandals (to be fair I did the JMT in Chacos) or the shoes I had been hiking in.  I ended this day at 10 miles, well short of the 20 I had planned.

Walking Day 4:  Blackstone Edge Reservoir to Hebden Bridge

Stoodley PikeI had a zero scheduled for one day this week to restock, however the day I pulled off I had cut 10 miles off so it will be time to do some mileage reconfiguration.   That said, after running around Manchester for a day (I wanted new boots) and taking a true zero the following day, I felt ready enough to head back up and test things out with an easy 10-mile day.

The first six miles are a nice flat jaunt out to Stoodley Pike, then you descend pretty quickly to Callis Bridge and climb up and over the last few miles to Mays Farm Shop which is worth the stop.  There are wild camp options beyond here but because it looked like the winds were going to pick up again overnight and I was now off script I headed for a local pub early enough to jump into the map and the spreadsheet and see where I can make up some time.  Weather today was cold but pleasant, up until I started my last climb.   Just like the other day, the rains came (more of an incessant mist) and the winds were in the 20s.   End of the day mileage was 10 miles.


So it has been a pretty eventful week, lots of social interaction and plenty of four-legged furry therapy to be had too.   This is the most British the weather has been for me as well, and while my experience on the West Highland Way was an eye opener to how easy we have it in the states, this trip so far has really driven the point home for me.   More to come, and I will be leaving you with some shots of signs encountered so far:



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Comments 1

  • Simon : Apr 12th

    Hi Jamie

    Looking forward to following your journey on our side of the pond.

    I normally follow people’s hikes on the AT but couldn’t resist following your journey on the Pennine Way. Curious as to why, with so much on your side of the pond, you’re doing a little old trail up the spine of England.

    Interested in your opinion of it compared with trails in the US though. Is the grass greener?



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