50 Years of the Pennine way

Pennine way 

On 24 April the Pennine Way celebrates its 50th anniversary. Britain’s first ever long distance path, the much cherished national trail covers 256 miles along mountain tops in Northumberland, the Pennines, the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District. 

To celebrate the anniversary we’re giving free access to one of our favourite walking routes, which begins at the start of the Pennine Way, continues up Kinder Scout, and includes a long section along the famous trail. Why not give it a try this weekend?

From Friday 24 April and over the weekend there’ll be various celebratory events, including guided walks, workshops for all ages, and the Spirit of Kinder event. At 10.30 am on Sunday, our president, Kate Ashbrook, will also be opening a new gate at Edale, the original start of the Pennine way.


"The Pennine Way crosses some of England’s grandest and most dramatic landscapes. It is a national treasure and a vital milestone in the Ramblers’ proud 80-year history," said Kate Ashbrook.


Britain’s first long distance path


Enshrined in Ramblers history, the Pennine Way was the brainchild of former Ramblers Secretary Tom Stephenson and offers the ultimate long distance walking challenge. It’s hard not to eulogise about this iconic path, often described as a walk that everyone should do once in their lifetime.


Pennine way walkers


Tom’s ambition was for a long green trail equal in stature to the John Muir Trail through the Rockies or the Appalachian Trail in the eastern mountains of the United States. He first spoke of it in 1935 and lobbied for its creation. In 1965 it became Britain’s first long distance path, and a key symbol in the fight to open up the private shooting moors and estates of northern England.


Walk the Pennine Way


The terrain of the route must in some way fulfil Tom’s ambitions. It’s the variety of the landscapes that make the route so special - and also demanding. These range from the peaty moorlands of the Peak District and the Cheviots to the striking limestone outcrops of Malham, not to mention the archaeological riches of Hadrian’s Wall and the dizzy heights of Cross Fell.


Completing the full trail is a demanding undertaking that requires preparation and some understanding of hill walking and navigation. Of course, if you want to walk a few shorter sections, we’ve got a great selection of walking routes along different parts of the Pennine Way, exclusively for members:


Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland

A 10-mile circular walk from Steel Rigg along Hadrian’s Wall Path via Housesteads and Vindolanda.

View route.


Airton, Yorkshire Dales

A relatively flat walk initially along the Pennine Way beside the fast flowing River Aire, the route passes a converted mill with a disused mill stream, and returns over fields by the village of Airton.

View route.


Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire

A walk of contrasts featuring a canal towpath, industrial heritage, the Pennine Way, woodland, steep sided cloughs, bleak moorland, stunning views of the Calder Valley, its towns and the South Pennine landscape.

View route.


The Pennine Moors and the Rochdale canal, West Yorkshire

A fantastic moorland walk following an ancient packhorse route and a stretch of the Rochdale canal, before climbing up onto the Pennine Way for a fine high level stretch.

View route.


Langdon Beck, Country Durham

This is a scenic walk through the beautiful Teesdale countryside with the chance to visit High Force, England's highest waterfall, and also some interesting caves.

View route.


Vale of Edale, Peak District

This circular route follows the Vale of Edale and goes through the rural hamlets of Ollerbrook Booth, Upper Booth and Barber Booth. It also takes in the first few miles of the Pennine Way National Trail.

View route.


You can find more information about walking the Pennine Way on the National Trail and Pennine Way Association websites.




Photo: (top) Pennine Way sign © Simon Wheatley; (above) Tom's companions on his famous Pennine Way walk in 1948. Left to right: George Chetwynd, Geoffrey de Freitas, Hugh Dalton, Ted Castle, Fred Willey, Barbara Castle, Julian Snow; seated, Arthur Blenkinsop (Daily Herald photograph)


Having waited nearly a lifetime waiting to for the chance to walk the whole path in one go, walking the Pennine Way solo was my 60th birthday retirement present to myself. I still enjoy reading the daily journal I wrote at the end of each day and if you walk this trail do spare the time to describe your experiences and emotions as you progress along the backbone of England. The people I met and the views made for a truly unforgettable experience and having walked a number of NTs since I think this long distance path, the first one, is the best. Our local group has a small number of us who try to do a NT each year. Can't say a personal thank you to the founders of the Pennine Way who are now gone, alas, but a big thank you to the Ramblers who are carrying on in their tradition by lobbying for the new Coastal Path around the whole of the UK, well done to The Ramblers.


It was in the August of 1965 that I walked the Pennine Way with five other pupils and six teachers from Plant Hill Comprehensive, Manchester. The Manchester Evening News did a feature, as we were the first organised party to complete the route.
So many memories...the squelchy peat on Kinder and Black Hill, standing by the alleged location of Withering Heights, enjoying a mug of tea in the cafe in Horton in Ribblesdale, tea and cake in Thwaite, after coming down off Great Shunner Fell, seeing High Force and Cauldron Snout in spate and the awesome High Cup Nick, being blown off our feet on Cross Fell and finally signing the book in the pub at Kirk Yetholm. I've still got my YHA card with all the hostel stamps and the newspaper cutting. I did the walk again with my Club in 1999/2000...real nostalgia trip..you could still see the posts in the peat showing the original route as we walked on the slabs...never to be forgotten!!

Chris Johson

Had not realised that the 50th anniversary was imminent. Have booked the accommodation for the walk in April 2018 and on the 24th will be walking the stage from Bellingham to Byrness. Previously walked the route in October 2016 and really enjoyed the whole thing.

Chris Johson

Had not realised that the 50th anniversary was imminent. Have booked the accommodation for the walk in April 2018 and on the 24th will be walking the stage from Bellingham to Byrness. Previously walked the route in October 2016 and really enjoyed the whole thing.