Congratulations, Karl, on completing the Pennine Way and raising over £6,000 for Parkinson’s UK!

A former veterinary surgeon living with Parkinson’s has completed his most ambitious fundraising challenge yet across the backbone of the UK - the Pennine Way National Trail - for Parkinson’s UK. So far, he has raised more than £6,000 and donations are still rolling in.

Yorkshire-born Karl Mckillop, 59, who now lives in Bromley, Kent, was a partner at the Park View Vet Group in Welling, for 25 years.  In 2016, he was forced to retire following his Parkinson’s diagnosis.

He decided to embrace walking as a way to keep active and manage his symptoms, whilst rediscovering the beauty of the English countryside and raising funds for Parkinson’s UK.  This year, after a delay caused by the Covid-19 lockdowns, he went for “the big one” – the Pennine Way.

Many people take years to complete the Pennine Way in several shorter sections.  Karl completed it in 22 days.  He averaged over 13 miles per day, including getting lost on the more remote and less well signposted parts of the trail.

Speaking about what  motivated him to tackle the first National Trail he said: “I was diagnosed four and a half years ago but, with my medical background, I already had my suspicions. It was nevertheless a shock. Since then, gradually things are getting tougher but I still continue to enjoy life to the fullest and will do so for as long as possible.

“After a childhood conversation with my late father, it has been a long held ambition to walk the Pennine Way.  As late middle-age and Parkinson’s make their presence felt, I wanted to attempt this iconic trail through the UK’s majestic Northern uplands, whilst still able to do so.  It is definitely not for the casual weekend walker!  The efforts for a cure for Parkinson’s continue and I want to put my own efforts to good use by raising money for Parkinson’s UK’s research.”

Traditionally, the walk starts at Edale in the Peak District and finishes at Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders; Karl, however, chose to buck tradition and do it ‘North to South.’  Overall, he clocked an impressive 704,584 steps and scaled a 30,770 foot ascension.

Jo McAllister, the Pennine National Trails Partnership Manager, said: “We’d like to send huge congratulations to Karl and his wife Krysia, who accompanied him on parts of the trail, on their completion of the Pennine Way.  It is arguably the most challenging National Trail in England: the combined ascent over the 268 mile length of the Trail is higher than Mount Everest, it passes through some of the remotest areas of the country and the weather is notoriously changeable.  It is a trail for experienced walkers and to complete it in the time that Karl managed certainly requires fitness, strength, stamina and determination.  This is an absolutely incredible and Herculean achievement and we are thrilled and delighted that the Pennine Way is helping raise much-needed research funds for Parkinson’s UK.”

Parkinson’s affects around 145,000 people in the UK, including approximately 12,268 in London.  There are over 40 symptoms, from tremor and pain to anxiety, though it affects everyone differently.

Shana Bohlen, Regional Fundraiser at Parkinson’s UK, said: “We are really grateful to Karl supporting Parkinson’s UK with this fantastic challenge.  With more than 40 potential symptoms, Parkinson’s can devastate lives.  While we’ve made huge breakthroughs in the last 50 years, there is still no cure and current treatments are not good enough. Fundraisers for Parkinson’s UK, like Karl, help us drive forward the ground-breaking research we need to transform the lives of people with Parkinson’s.”

 

Another FKT for the Pennine Way!

John Kelly fought back and beat Damian Hall's record by over 3 hours.

John Kelly has re-gained the Fastest Known Time for the Pennine Way; 58 hours and 4 minutes. On his most recent attempt in May 2021, John chose to run from north to south, as Damian and Sabrina had successfully done in 2020. How long will this record stand?!

Thanks and support for the Pennine Way volunteers

This year, International Trails Day also coincides with Volunteers Week and we want to say a huge thank you to all the amazing volunteers who give their time and expertise to help maintain the Pennine Way.

Volunteers play a vital role in the maintenance of the Pennine Way particularly in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Peak District National Park and the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  On average, around 250 days of volunteer time are given each year.  Volunteers regularly get involved in a variety of work: from controlling vegetation and installing waymarking, to drainage and surfacing works, fencing and repairing gates.  Their involvement is invaluable in helping to maintain the trails to their high standard.

The Pennine Way People Project

In the North Pennines, the Pennine Way has a dedicated team of volunteers involved in the Pennine Way People Project.  The project started in 2017 and is managed by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership.  The group consists of around 30 regular volunteers although there are further volunteers who also join to do occasional work.  The stretch of the trail within the AONB is split in to 14 sections and each section is assigned a core Champion who is responsible for the monitoring and surveying of their section.  In addition, they and the other non-Champion volunteers, are given the opportunity to help out with maintenance work on the trail on a number of days throughout the year.

Simon Wilson, Business Manager and Planning and Access Lead at the North Pennines AONB Partnership, who is involved in delivering the Pennine Way People Project, knows how important volunteers are in supporting the wider maintenance work of the trail.  “It is hard to over-emphasise the value of volunteers to the care of the Pennine Way National Trail in the North Pennines,” he said.  “They give their time and expertise to ensure that those using the route have the best experience possible.”

Whilst volunteers generously give their time for free and enable work to be carried out which could otherwise not be completed, volunteer programmes are not free to run.  Every volunteer needs to be supported to fulfil their role safely and effectively.  It costs thousands of pounds each year to run projects like Pennine Way People.

How you can help

If you would like to make a donation to help fund the ongoing work of the volunteers on the Pennine Way please follow this link: Donate to the Pennine Way

(Please note, the link will take you to the website of Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority who manage the collection of donations on behalf of the Pennine National Trails Partnership).  Thank you for your support.

The Pennine Way A Poem A Day, by Andrew Cannon

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

Brewery donation supports maintenance work on the Pennine Way

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).

Filming at Low Force - 12-23 October

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.

Maintenance work at Falcon Clints - September 2020

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.

Boulder field at Falcon Clints where the works are taking place.

Sabrina Verjee sets new women's FKT - September 15th 2020

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.

Congratulations Sabrina!

Sabrina Verjee FKT 2020 – (copyright Damian Hall)

 

Damian Hall beats John Kelly's record - July 28th 2020

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 sets new Fastest Known Time for completing the Pennine Way - July 16th 2020

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!

Advance booking essential this summer - July 2020

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.

Gargrave Public Toilets Faced With Closure - January 2020

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.