To mark his fifth Pennine Way completion in 2020, poet and hiking blogger Andrew Cannon set himself the challenge of writing a daily poem while on the trail, scribbling them each night into a damp notebook by headtorch in a tiny tent, generally with rain pelting the flysheet.
Despite many improvements to the Pennine Way since its inception over fifty years ago, our original and most legendary National Trail remains a genuine challenge, mental as well as physical. Its completion is rite of passage that makes memories, provokes thoughts and even changes lives. Walking it has inspired songs (often raucous and unrepeatable), books and even poetry.
Now Andrew has used these poems as the framework of a quirky and very personal book; essentially a love letter to his favourite trail, a picture album and a mashed-up memoir and reminiscence that celebrates the places and people of the Pennine Way but also confronts the questions and concerns that preoccupy lone hikers drawn out of their comfort zone, pulled from their everyday timeline and given unaccustomed time and space to think.
In passing Andrew documents his idiosyncratic and ultimately successful (although not entirely advisable) mission to sleep out on all the trail’s high summits and explores his interests in ecology, sociology and food. And, although this is emphatically not a guidebook, there are practical tips and advice from a serial Pennine Way completer. Illustrated with over 120 colour photographs, the style is succinct and the structure is slightly non-linear, its flashbacks and reflections intended to recall the slight disorientation evoked by spending sixteen days alone in the hills.
Anyone who has hiked this remarkable trail will enjoy Andrew’s book for its humour and as a jewel box of shared memories, and for agreeing with them that it can be surprisingly hard to string those memories together in exactly the right order. Anyone who dreams of walking the Pennine Way will be encouraged to get going, and inspired to get thinking.
The Pennine Way A Poem A Day by Andrew Cannon is available on Amazon, in paperback and Kindle ebook.
For more information see the author’s blog at www.oldieoutdoors.com
Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery donates £6,350 from the sale of their Pennine Ambler ale to support the trail.
Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery staff Stu Taylor and James Law walked a popular section of the Pennine Way in Wensleydale in October, raising a bottle to the volunteers and rangers who repaired the path in the summer.
The brewery donated £6,350 to the repair project, having held back ten pence from every bottle or pint sold of one of their ales, the Pennine Ambler.
The amber beer is aimed at thirsty long-distance walkers.
Reclaimed stone flags, sourced from Lancashire and West Yorkshire, were laid along 115-metres of the Way near the village of Hardraw, where existing flags had become uneven or broken.
For three days Dales Volunteers Dick Laidler and Richard Humphries marshalled a digger, operated by an access ranger, and used spades and bars to make sure the flags were laid level.
Stu Taylor from Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery said: “We use the Pennine Way trail ourselves, and are lovers of the outdoors – so it’s good to be able to give something back.”
Pennine National Trails Partnership Manager, Jo McAllister, who brings together more than a dozen local authority and other partners to maintain the 267-mile National Trail, said: “The Pennine Way takes a lot of looking after and we couldn’t do it without the help of volunteers as well as supporters such as Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery. The assistance provided by the landowner and tenant farmer in storing and transporting the stone flags was also much appreciated.”
She added: “If you want a challenging and spectacular walk on well-maintained paths, followed by a fine pint at a local pub, then look no further than the Pennine Way.“
Last year, 258 days of volunteer time were given to maintaining the Pennine Way, most of them in the North Pennines AONB, the Peak District or the Yorkshire Dales.
(Image of Stu Taylor and James Law from Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery on the Pennine Way, courtesy of Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority).
There may be some short delays around Low Force in October due to filming.
We have been made aware of the intention to carry out filming for a TV production in the area of Low Force and High Force between the dates of 12th and 23rd October. The Pennine Way and the paths linking to Bowlees and the High Force Hotel will all remain open, but walkers may be asked to wait briefly during film shoots. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.
Short delays for walkers are possible whilst works are undertaken
Maintenance work to replace some of the boardwalk at Falcon Clints will start on 21st September and is expected to continue until mid October. Trail users may experience some minor delays on the section of the trail from Widdybank Farm to Cauldron Snout whilst materials are moved by helicopter to and from the site and the work is undertaken. The terrain in this area may be tougher underfoot until the new boardwalk is in place.
Sabrina Verjee has broken her own female record for the Pennine Way.
This year has been a year for record breaking, and the latest accomplishment is that of Sabrina Verjee, who has set a new ladies Fastest Known Time of 74 hours, 28 minutes and 19 seconds over the 268 miles. Sabrina’s previous record of 82 hours and 10 minutes was set in summer 2019, when she was the fastest female in the Spine Fusion Race. Sabrina ran from north to south, as did Damian Hall recently on his incredible record breaking run.
Another fastest known time for the Pennine Way has been achieved in the space of 8 days.
The new Fastest Known Time for the Pennine Way is now two days, 13 hours and 34 minutes, set by Damian Hall on the 24th July 2020. Damian chose to run from north to south. John Kelly had run in the opposite direction, from Edale to Kirk Yetholm, in two days, 16 hours and 46 minutes, completing the trail on the 16th July. It is only eight days since John broke the record that had stood for 31 years. Mike Hartley ran the trail in two days, 17 hours and 20 minutes in 1989, also running north to south.
Damian looked incredibly comfortable throughout, so perhaps it will be another 31 years until the record is broken again?!
Mike Hartley and John Kelly were at the finish to meet Damian (photo – left – credit: Nicki Lygo).
If running the trail was not enough, Damian and his pacers also collected litter along the route and raised funds for Greenpeace UK. Damian said on his tracking webpage:
“I love a boggy bimble, me. And I’ve been thinking about this one for four years.
The Pennine Way is special. England’s oldest National Trail is directly linked to 1932’s Mass Trespass, a brilliant piece of civil disobedience where brave folk defied the law on Kinder Scout to protest about the lack of access to open country. The Pennine Way is our Appalachian Trail; the original, the classic, the daddy.
It’s special to me too. I first hiked it in 2011, have written a guidebook for it and done the Spine Race twice. I have a weakness for bleakness. And bogs. And bimbles.”
There are a number of films of Damian’s attempt available to view on YouTube including:
John Kelly has broken the long-standing time set by Mike Hartley in 1989
In the early hours of the 16th July John Kelly reached the Border Hotel in Kirk Yetholm, having set off from Edale at 10am on 13th July. That means that he completed the full length of the Pennine Way in 64 hours and 40 minutes breaking Mike Hartley’s record of 65 hours and 20 minutes. Mike’s record had stood for over 30 years, which in itself shows the near impossibility of John’s achievement. A short film of John’s challenge can be seen here. A more in depth film will be produced by Summit Fever Media in due course.
However, this may be a short-lived record as another well-known endurance athlete takes up the challenge later this summer. Watch this space!
If you are planning a trip along the Pennine Way this summer a little extra preparation is required to ensure you can find accommodation for each night.
Accommodation providers along the Pennine Way are coping with the post-lockdown challenges in different ways. Some are choosing not to re-open at all during 2020, whilst others are only accepting advance bookings. Others have rolled forward bookings from earlier in the year so are already fully booked for the rest of the year. There are sufficient options available to enable an end to end walk of the Pennine Way, but you may need to divert a little further from the trail. We strongly advise that you book all of your accommodation, including campsites, before you set off.
One particular location where accommodation is proving challenging at the moment is at Crowden/Torside. Both Crowden Campsite and The Old House are currently closed. There are other options further from the trail in the direction of Glossop, such as Windy Harbour Hotel. There is also a diversion in place on the Trail here to be aware of https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/short-routes/torside-reservoir-diversion/.
Hostels, including those at Edale, Earby, Malham, Langdon Beck and Dufton are open for exclusive hire or group bookings only at present.
A large number of accommodation options are listed on our interactive map to help get you started.
Please bear in mind that some accommodation options which are located away from the trail, or remote from local pubs, and which used to provide transport services, may not be providing this service at the moment.
Baggage handlers and booking companies are operating, but please do check their current policies regarding infection control.
This information is intended to be a guide, it is not comprehensive, and may not be kept up to date. We strongly advise that you check with all of your required accommodation and service providers before setting off.
The Public Toilets in Gargrave faced closure on the 31st December so a new Community Group, GNAT: Gargrave Needs A Toilet, has been set up to keep the toilets open.
Many Pennine Way walkers will have welcomed the sight of a public toilet on their travels.
A group of residents has volunteered to open, close and clean the toilets but money is needed to pay for water and consumables and to support the long term future of the facilities.
The group is determined to keep the toilets open, and have founded a Go Fund Me page to raise money for the cause https://www.gofundme.com/f/gnat-gargrave-needs-a-toilet
Gargrave is an iconic stopping off point on the Pennine Way with the well-loved Dalesman Café providing welcome sustenance to weary walkers.
You can help the cause by making a donation to keep the toilets open for walkers, cyclists, motorists and bus passengers who pass through the village.