Pennine Way: Skipton to Appleby-in-Westmorland

This eight-day itinerary explores the striking limestone landscapes of Malham in the Yorkshire Dales before climbing the backbone of England on Penyghent and Great Shunner Fell. From the highest pub in England at Tan Hill stroll through ancient haymeadows before a day of spectacular waterfalls along the River Tees. The precursor to a dramatic finale as the moorland path suddenly opens out on the breath-taking High Cup Nick where the Lakeland Fells are clearly visible across the Eden Valley. Descend this steep-sided glacial canyon and finish in the historic market town of Appleby in Westmorland. 

Completing the entire 435km/268 mile length of the Pennine Way is a major challenge. For committed and adventurous hikers, it’s an iconic journey that will require a minimum of 16 hard days on the trail. So we’ve put together a condensed itinerary which takes in many of the highlights in a 120 km/74-mile route that can be comfortably managed in a week.

Make no mistake, this is still a demanding expedition that requires fitness and determination to complete, but the rewards are some of the most spectacular views and stunning landscapes the Great North of England has to offer.

Starting in the lively market town of Skipton, our ‘highlights’ itinerary threads its way through the Yorkshire Dales and visits the limestone landscapes of Malham Cove, summits one of the famous Yorkshire Three Peaks and stops over for an unforgettable night at Britain’s highest pub. The route continues over the lonely moorlands on Yorkshire’s wild border with County Durham, before descending into the Tees Valley, where it follows the river past a series of thundering waterfalls, before climbing to a stunning finale on the edge of a breath-taking canyon high above the Eden Valley.

Tour Overview

The icons below highlight the distance, difficulty and theme of this itinerary.


120 km/74 miles






Geology / History

Landscape Type

High Hills and Moorland

Pennine Way: Skipton to Appleby-in-Westmorland

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This itinerary breaks down the 8-day journey into daily sections of between 7 and 27km/4.5 and 17 miles.

Owing to the nature of the terrain and limited accommodation en route, only minimal options for flexing the itinerary exist – although back-packers will benefit from a little more flexibility.

From Skipton – take the number 210 bus from Skipton to Malham. Then enjoy a short ‘leg-stretcher’ walk to familiarise yourself with the terrain. This 4.5-mile circular walk explores the jaw-dropping natural amphitheater of Malham Cove, the ‘clints’ and ‘grykes’ of the limestone pavement above and the waterfalls below before returning to the little hamlet of Malham, where the lively pubs will be packed with fellow hikers.  7km/4.5 miles

Your first day on the Pennine Way proper leads north, past tranquil Malham Tarn and over Fountains Fell into Three Peaks Country – named after the trio of 2000ft/610m mountains that dominate this landscape: Ingleborough, Whernside, and Pen-y-ghent (Mountain of the Winds). Scale the rugged southern face of Pen-y-gent before descending into the pretty Yorkshire Dales village of Horton-in-Ribblesdale. 24km/15 miles.

Follow the River Ribble upstream to the stunning viaduct at Ribblehead before following old packhorse routes around the summit of 2191ft/668m Dodd Fell and descending into Wensleydale – famous for the eponymous cheese so beloved of Wallace and Gromit – to reach your overnight destination of Hawes. This close-knit upland village is the center of a farming community that makes its living on these remote fells. Village pubs like The Board Inn offer superb local ales and hearty food and the local creamery – home of Wensleydale Cheese – is not to be missed! 22.5km / 14miles

Leaving Hawes, stop off at the powerful cascade of Hardraw Force before continuing north on the sustained climb to the summit of Great Shunner Fell.
A stunning panorama stretching for 40 miles in each direction rewards your efforts before descending into the gentler, flower-filled pastures of Swaledale and the achingly pretty villages of Thwaite and Keld. Admire the geometric patterns inscribed on the landscape by the dry-stone walls before climbing again to reach the sanctuary of Britain’s highest pub: the Tan Hill Inn – for the definitive Pennine Way pub experience. 25.7km/16 miles.

The longest day on the trail crosses the boundary into Durham County and traverses lonely moorland and secret valleys, where the wildflowers are stunning in late spring. This is the most remote section of the trail and you’ll only have the upland birds and grazing cattle for company while distant echoes of Roman Legions and Bronze Age burials are carried away on the breeze into the rustling cotton grass. The descent into Middleton is one of the scenic highlights of the walk. You’ll be ready for a pint at one of this handsome town’s many inns. 27km/17 miles

Follow the river beneath brooding crags upstream to the thundering waterfalls that punctuate the Upper Tees Valley. Revel in the wildflowers that carpet your route in this largely undiscovered Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and marvel at the mighty torrents of Low Force and High Force, where the Tees tumbles over the Whin Sill – the fault line where iron-hard volcanic dolerite meets softer sedimentary rocks for a spectacular effect. Detour for coffee and cake at the informative Bowlees Visitor Center and stay at the Langdon Beck Hotel – another quirky country inn. 12.8km/8 miles

Fuel up with a full English breakfast for a big day ahead that most aficionados agree is the best day on the entire Pennine Way. Scramble over the rock formations beside the River Tees to another stunning waterfall at Cauldron Snout, before striking out west across the exposed vastness of Dufton Fell, crossing the Pennines from East to West to the stark eastern escarpment of the Eden Valley. Admire the huge views across to the Lakeland Fells as you encounter the deep glacial gorge of High Cup Nick. Stride out along its northern lip then descend into the hamlet of Dufton. 19km/12 miles

Sleep late before gently ambling down the Eden Valley to Appleby-in-Westmorland, another vibrant market town with a good choice of pubs and restaurants to celebrate the journey’s end. The train trip back to Skipton on the scenic Settle-Carlisle railway is one of the most spectacular journeys in Europe – the perfect book-end to your Pennine Way adventure. 6.4km/4 miles


Accommodation on this section of the Pennine Way can vary from welcoming village inns like the Lister Arms at Malham to remote yet lively upland pubs such as the iconic Tan Hill Inn – the highest pub in Britain (1732ft/528m above sea level). If the snow starts to fall, your stay may be longer than anticipated…!


Flights into Leeds Airport followed by train to Skipton then 210 bus to Malham to join the trail. Return train to Leeds on the scenic Settle-Carlisle railway then transfer to airport. From Manchester and Newcastle airports, the train journey is circa three hours. Train from London to Skipton: three hours.


Car Ferry to Hull from Rotterdam then two-hour (130km) drive to Skipton. Return direct to Skipton via rail on Settle-Carlisle Railway. Pick up your car and return to Hull for ferry.


While there is a good choice of accommodation at each end of this itinerary in Skipton and Appleby, accommodation en route is limited and it’s wise to book ahead well in advance. The limestone sections are usually well-drained, but the sections further north could be water-logged in winter and early spring, so walking boots and a full set of waterproof clothing is recommended. The route remains open all year, but snow and ice can make some sections quite challenging during the winter months (November – March) – particularly the Malham, Pen-y-ghent, and High Cup Nick sections. The longest days (15 mi and 16mi) may present a challenge to complete in daylight during these months

Food & Drink

They take beer very seriously in these parts and walkers will find a bewildering range of local beers to slake their thirst, ranging from light refreshing pale or golden ales like Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery’s Pennine Ambler – official beer of the Pennine Way – to dark and complex brews like Wensleydale Brewery’s Black Dub that are often strong in alcohol.
The best food options can be found in the pubs and inns, where hearty pies, warming stews, and local lamb feature heavily on the menu.

Maps, Guidebooks and Merchandise

The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the National Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.

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