Exploring the Trail
How long does it take to complete the Trail?
You can spend as little or as long as you like walking on the Pennine Way National Trail.
Some people like to walk the full length between Edale and Kirk Yetholm in one go, others like to spend a week, a few days or even a day at a time taking in spectacular lengths of the route.
The full length of the Pennine Way is 268 miles (431 km), but the chances are, if you walk from one end to the other you will walk nearer to 253 miles. The longer length includes both sides of the Bowes Loop, both route options into Kirk Yetholm, the alternative route at High Cup Nick and the detour to the summit of The Cheviot. Most full length walkers allow 16 to 19 days to walk the Trail.
The Fastest Known Time for completing the Pennine Way is 58 hours and 4 minutes, set in May 2021 by John Kelly.
How hard is it?
The Trail follows the Pennines so it is a hilly route and in places very remote. Some sections are harder than others. Know your limitations – the first couple of days on the Pennine Way (if you start in Edale) are quite tough so it’s important to be prepared.
The terrain on the Pennine Way is varied. In some places such as at Malham Cove and High Force the paths are smooth and firm, but in others the path may be narrow and uneven or wet and boggy. The length of trail which is still persistently wet is much reduced from what some walkers experienced in the past, but you should be prepared to spend time on at least a few days traversing wet peat bogs. If the weather has been good then you may well get away with dry socks, but it wouldn’t be the Pennine Way if wet socks were no longer a hazard!
Are there any major diversions on the route?
Temporary diversions may be necessary from time to time in order to permit maintenance works on the trail or on other land/infrastructure. Anything significant will be shown on the interactive map below.
A diversion will be in place on the Pennine Way near Wessenden Reservoir in the Peak District National Park during September and October 2023. This is to enable essential maintenance work to be carried out on a 200metre section of the trail. More information and a map of the diversion route can be found here.
A diversion is in place between Alston and Garrigill due to flood damage to the footbridge across the River South Tyne. More information and a map of the diversion route can be found here.
If you’ve had a family day out on the Pennine Way National Trail why not continue the fun with your little explorers at home? Online educational publishing house, Twinkl have created a range of fantastic Pennine Way activities which can be downloaded for free. Whether it’s a colouring page, dot to dot or interactive puzzle, the resources will let youngsters continue their adventure even after you’ve left the trail.
To access and download the resources, visit the Twinkl Out and About website or follow the links below. Please note that you will need to create a free account to download the activities.
Top tips for Enjoying the Trail
How do I get to the Pennine Way?
Both ends of the Pennine Way are accessible by public transport, as are many locations along the length of the Trail. For information on public transport links along the Trail please click here (pdf).
The closest airport to the start of the Pennine Way is Manchester Airport. You can take a train from Manchester Airport (via Manchester Piccadilly railway station) to Edale.
To return from Kirk Yetholm, you can catch a taxi or bus to Berwick-upon-Tweed and then catch a train on to Manchester Airport, Newcastle Airport or London.
For detailed rail information please see www.nationalrail.co.uk
You can find up-to-date public transport information including a journey planner at www.traveline.info
Where can I stay on the Trail?
There is a good choice of accommodation close to the Trail and it can be viewed on the Interactive Map below or on the Create Your Own Trip page here.
Download and print a list of accommodation for each section of the Trail.
We recommend that you book your accommodation in advance – it’s limited in some areas.
Can I camp along the Trail?
There are a number of campsites along the Trail and they can be viewed on the Interactive Map.
There is a tradition of backpackers sleeping in the hills, but please be aware that wild camping is not legal in England unless you have the permission of the landowner.
If you do plan to wild camp you must ensure you take all your waste away with you. Water supplies may be scarce, so stock up where you can.
Fire is a serious risk in the uplands – be very careful during dry periods to avoid starting an accidental fire on moorland.
Take the opportunity to go to the toilet where they are provided – if you need to go to the toilet in the wild go at least 50m from any water course, excavate a small hole with a walking pole etc. and fill in the hole once you are finished.
Can I get my bags carried or my accommodation booked?
There are several companies that will arrange to move your bags for you, help you plan your trip, or arrange a full package.
View a list of these companies here.
What is the best time of year to walk on the Trail?
The best weather on the Pennine Way is usually from mid May to September, however it can be walked all year round.
Check the weather forecast daily – the Pennines receive around 2.5 metres of precipitation a year and can be windswept. You need to be prepared for hot sun and heavy rain. With wind-chill the temperatures on the summits can be zero even in summer.
Which direction should I walk it in?
Most people walk south to north – you get the wind at your back and the official guide book is written in that direction! However, there is nothing to stop you walking from north to south.
What should I take with me?
Keep the weight of your rucsack to a minimum – or alternatively take advantage of one of the baggage carrying services that operate on the Trail.
As a minimum you will need to carry a map and compass and know how to use them. Be properly equipped, take waterproofs and spare warm clothing. Wear robust walking boots. Take an emergency pack including whistle, torch, first aid kit, survival bag and spare rations. Don’t wear denim jeans – they don’t dry if they get wet. Plan your route properly – be aware of escape routes in the event of an accident. Make sure somebody knows your plans.
You should carry sufficient water with you for each day’s requirements. It is strongly advised that if you take water from streams then you should use purification equipment.
Will I have mobile phone and internet access?
Mobile phone reception is patchy at best. Don’t rely on your phone to help you navigate. Wi-Fi is available at some accommodation and pubs/cafés along the route.
Is there signage on the Pennine Way?
The UK is unique in having a network of paths that the public can use; this is the Public Rights of Way network. You can see these paths on Ordnance Survey maps.
National Trails are signed with an acorn symbol and/or the Trail name which you will see on stiles, gates and signposts. This is the symbol used by all the English and Welsh National Trails.
As you are walking along the Trail you will also see waymarkers pointing to other paths. You can use the public rights of way network to leave the Trail to explore places of interest, reach your accommodation and find places to eat and drink.
You will often find a coloured arrow on signs which indicates the status of that section of path. The most common are yellow arrows which are footpaths and blue arrows which are bridleways.
Visit our Walking Holidays Page for holiday inspiration for the Pennine Way.
Circular and Linear Walks
There are some great linear and circular walks to enjoy along the Pennine Way, giving you the opportunity to experience the wonders of the Trail over shorter distances. Find the perfect walk for you in the Further Information section.
Leaflets, Maps, Guidebooks and Merchandise
Can I get a guidebook and map for the Trail?
The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the The Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.
Which Ordnance Survey maps cover the Trail?
You can find a list of Ordnance Survey maps for the Trail here.
Can I get a certificate if I complete the Trail?
Certificates are available from the The Trails Shop.
Are there any useful Trail Leaflets?
Useful leaflets about the Pennine Way can be downloaded from the Further Information section of this website.