A dramatic and demanding expedition over wild backcountry and lonely hilltops with solitude aplenty to ponder the myths and legends that echo across these spectacular borderlands.
This tough final section of the Pennine Way is a suitably spectacular climax to England’s most iconic National Trail. This fitting finale to England’s oldest National Trail includes – according to its originator Tom Stephenson – the very best section of the entire route.
The lofty traverse of the Cheviots – almost certainly England’s most underrated mountain range – offers loneliness, seclusion, massive views, and hops between one country and the next along a spectacular ridge-line. Starting at the World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s Wall, the route follows the wall for eight glorious miles past Roman Forts, along steep slopes, and beside lonely loughs. This is border country, where after the Romans abandoned the northern frontier of their empire, lawlessness and anarchy prevailed for centuries.
With only the spirits of the Border Reivers for company through mighty Kielder Forest, the trail follows the border up into the Cheviots, where a breath-taking final day across a string of striking summits provides unforgettable views to the north over the Scottish Borders and east over the Farne Islands before descending to the bar of the Border Hotel in the assuming little village of Kirk Yetholm, where a half pint awaits all Pennine Way finishers.
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High Moorlands & Hills
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There are no easy days and few options to shorten the distances on this challenging final section of the Pennine Way.
Each day includes a minimum of 20km / 12 miles and between 500 and 1000 meters of ascent.
This leaves little time for sight-seeing – although the Hadrian’s Wall sections are rich in historical interest – while the constantly changing views in the latter stages provide ample inspiration.
Accommodation on this section of the Pennine Way is limited to a small selection of inns and B&Bs.
There is greater choice in Bellingham and a backpacking approach may be feasible in the summer months.
You’ll be in good company at the Twice Brewed Inn and the Forest View Inn – both very popular with outdoor enthusiasts and Pennine Wayfarers!
This is a tough challenge requiring good levels of fitness and stamina to traverse wild terrain with few settlements.
Being able to carry enough food and water to last a whole day on the trail is vital on two of the days.
Waterproof clothing, walking boots, and good map-reading skills are essential.
The route remains open all year, but snow and ice can make some sections very challenging during the winter months (November – March) – particularly the Cheviot sections.
The longest days (13.5mi and 15mi) may be a challenge to complete in daylight during these months.
Options are very limited on some sections, but you’ll find good food and drink at the Twice Brewed Inn, right beside Hadrian’s Wall.
There’s a brewery on site and the pub’s name originates from the beer served here, reputed to be double the strength of a normal ‘small beer’ because it was brewed twice.
Good selection of pubs and inns in the pretty market town of Bellingham – Carriages Tearoom is worth finding.
Stock up on high energy foods in Bellingham to see you through the demanding final two days, where there are no refreshment options along the trail.
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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