The Pennine Way National Trail stretches from Edale near Sheffield, all the way through the Peak District, The Yorkshire Dales and across the Pennines. The whole footpath is 268 miles or 431 km long but can be divided into a northern and southern section if preferred. This itinerary is for the Southern Section of The Pennine Way, walking northbound between Edale and Middleton-in-Teesdale. Considered the toughest National Trail in the UK, if you can handle the rugged landscape then you will be rewarded with spectacular scenery. These routes are best-suited to those with long-distance walking experience.
By Rail: The Pennines are well-served by rail from London, covering the journey in around 3 hours. Fast through-trains run from most other parts of Britain.
By Car: The Pennines are served by excellent roads. The A1/A1(M) motorway provides fast, easy access from the South. From the North choose from the A1 coastal route or the A68 cross-country 'holiday route' through Northumberland and Border Country. From the West, the A66 provides a scenic cross-Pennine route from the Lake District and M6 motorway.
B&Bs, Hotels and Inns (3*) or Luxury Hotels (5*). Please note the Luxury version includes some taxi transfers at the beginning or end of some days.
The tour includes transfer of luggage as stated. The tour information pack provided to the clients contains luggage tags from Compass Holidays. The clients name and the hotels used throughout the holiday will be on these tags. They should be fixed to the luggage. In the morning the luggage should be left at the reception for collection. Luggage is collected after 9.30am and delivered to the next hotel before 4.30pm.
This grade of this tour is moderate.
Daily Distance Range
- Minimum:6.5 miles / 10.5km per day
- Maximum:16 miles / 25.5 km per day
This tour runs for 13 days, 12 nights and 11 days walking but can be extended or decreased by changing the daily distance.
This tour is available from April to September.
What is included in the tour
- Accommodation at the stated category with breakfast
- Luggage Transfers
- Taxi transfers where specified
- Full Tour Pack
- Smartphone App with GPS routes
- 24-hr emergency helpline
What is NOT included in the tour
- Lunch, Dinner & Drinks
- Entrance to attractions
- Buses and/or Ferries unless otherwise stated
- Tourist Taxes where applicable
The total combined ascent and descent on this tour is approximately 2495ft.
Caution: Much of the Pennine Way is in remote locations and therefore accommodation is limited. We therefore ask that guests provide a start date with 3 days leeway minimum to allow us to adjust the start date around accommodation availability.
Arrive Edale and stay overnight.
The village of Edale in the Peak District marks the official start of the Pennine Way. It is also home to the Moorland Visitor Centre which is dedicated to research of the moorland habitat for which the Peak District is famous. It is a small village with some but limited amenities. It is a small village and if preferred, the first night can be spent in the city of Sheffield with a transfer to the start of the route available.
A: Edale to Torside (16 miles / 25.5 km)
As the oldest nationally managed footpath in the UK, the route has changed somewhat over the years and used to leave Edale via the soft peat bogs to reach Kinder Scout. The bogs proved very confusing and even treacherous in the mist and so the route now runs across the moors, although visitors are free to explore and view the peaty areas if preferred. This is a tough day’s walking with a lot of ascents and descents but much of the route is across flagstone paths. Leaving Edale through the commemorative gates that was erected in 2015 to mark 50 years of the route being open, follow the flagstone paths with great views across Mam Tor and Lose Hill. Having climbed 633m, you will find the trig point at Kinder Low where you will see the exposed dark grey ‘gritstone’ bedrock that this area is famous for. Some of the next stretch involves stepping from slab to slab but you will reach the waterfall at Kinder Downfall before continuing on the path. The next landmark is the cairn at the top of Mill Hill, before the path offers a very windy route to skirt the worst of the boggy areas in the region. Taking care to cross the road at Snake Pass (which contrary to its name does not have snakes) continue to follow the route passing Bleaklow Head and Torside Clough to descend into Torside.
Ascent: 680m / 2230ft | Descent 680m / 2230ft
Stay overnight in Torside. Luggage will be transferred.
B: Torside to Standedge with bus to Diggle (13 miles / 21 km)
Much of the day’s walking is across the moorland with several stretches of flagstone path and firm tracks although one or two sections are boggy. Crossing over the Dam at the Torside Reservoir, walkers have the option to visit the village of Crowden (where the route used to run) or continue along the current Pennine Way between the five local reservoirs before the path climbs to Black Hill. Black Hill used to be a treacherous stretch of bog that had turned black with misplaced steps, but now a firm path of flagstones has been laid and the top has returned to the green vegetated landscape that it always should have been. The path undulates onwards before reaching a rusty red stream at Isle of Skye near Wessenden Head. From there, the route follows the edge of the Wessenden Reservoir before turning towards Standedge where you can finish for the day. From here, walkers have the option to walk to nearby Diggle (an extra 2.5km) where you will stay for the night, or catch a bus into the town.
Ascent: 760m / 2495ft | Descent 620m / 2035ft
Stay overnight in Diggle. Luggage will be transferred.
C: Standedge to Callis Bridge / Hebden Bridge (15 miles / 24 km)
Walking the 2.5km back to Standedge, or catching a bus back to the village, begins today’s route on the Pennine Way. Despite being lengthy, today’s route offers some relief in the terrain with much fewer ascents to climb along the route, and much of it across moorland and reservoir tracks allowing faster progress. Leaving Standedge behind, the well-worn path leads across the grassy moorland for several miles to reach the trig point at White Hill 466 m / 1529ft above sea level. From here, the path turns to cross Bleakegate Moor, continuing for a while before eventually reaching Blackstone Edge which is marked by a trig point and offers one of the particularly spectacular views of gritstone in the region and which has been features in writings by authors including Celia Fiennes in 1698 and Daniel Defoe in 1724. From here the path descends but becomes rugged and stony, reaching the medieval moorland of Aiggin Stone, before continuing on to pass through a series of reservoirs where the man-made walkways offer speedier walking. Other prominent landmarks as the route descends to Callis Bridge, include Mankinholes and Stoodley Pike where you can see the monument that was built following Napoleon’s exile to Elba. It has collapsed and been rebuilt but is a prominent landmark in the region. Today’s route ends in Callis Bridge and walkers can either bus to nearby Hebden Bridge to stay for the night, or opt for the ‘Hebden Loop’ route which turns off before Callis Bridge and adds 2km to the total route (0.5km today and 1.5km tomorrow). Hebden Bridge was the first town in the UK to be recognised under the “Walkers Welcome” Scheme and was voted by British Airways as the fourth funkiest town in the world.
Ascent: 360m / 1180ft | Descent 630m / 2065ft
Stay overnight in Hebden Bridge. Luggage will be transferred.
D: Callis Bridge to Ickornshaw (16 miles / 25.5 km)
Having stayed the night in Hebden Bridge, you can either walk 1.5km to return to The Pennine Way route, or bus back to Callis Bridge to start the day if preferred. Today’s route is quite a long one but pleasant and the first major landmark of the day is the small village of Colden; you can also catch a bus to Colden from Hebden Bridge if you would like to shorten the route somewhat. From here, the route crosses a large expanse of heather moorland which can be quite brightly coloured when in flower, and you can also keep an eye out for bog cotton growing when the conditions are right. Be careful to look for signs on the next stretch so as not to divert onto the similar but longer route of the Pennine Bridleway, instead continuing on the footpath, over the footbridges which span the reservoirs and on past the next series of reservoirs where again the paths become easier. Here you will climb Withins Height at around 450m to Top Withins which features prominently in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Leaving the landmark behind, follow the twinned flagstone paths (which are sometimes used by farm vehicles) and head on past Ponden Hall which provided inspiration for Thrushcross Grange in the Wuthering Heights novel. The route winds on to view the Wolf Stones (although the path doesn’t actually run past them), across Ickornshaw Moor to end in Ickornshaw. Your accommodation will be here at Ickornshaw or in the nearby village of Cowling.
Ascent: 840m / 2725ft | Descent 760m / 2495ft
Stay overnight in Ickornshaw or Cowling. Luggage will be transferred.
E: Ickornshaw to Gargrave (11 miles / 18 km)
Offering a much shorter route than previous days, many opt to take today at a more leisurely pace, although keen, experienced walkers can head on to Malham and shorten the route by a day. Note this will mean walking over 17.5 miles so should only be considered by experienced long-distance walkers.
Today’s route marks the Aire Gap between the end of the South Pennines and the start of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It is in fact quite a hilly day with lots of ascents and descents across grassy slopes. The route starts by skirting houses at Middleton and again at Gill before leaving the villages behind to climb Cowling Hill (310m / 1015ft), before continuing cross country and descending somewhat to reach Lothersdale. From here the route traverses local farmland before turning to climb to the trig point at Pinhaw Beacon where on a clear day you can look back to see your journey across the South Pennines and onwards to the Yorkshire Dales. From here, descend across Elslack Moor and here the route can become a little boggy but duckboards and flagstones keep you off the worst of it. Following the route a road lined with tall trees leads into the village of Thornton-in-Craven. After leaving the village behind, it is not long until the route turns onto the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Towpath to travel onwards. You can take a very short detour to visit East Marton which has a pub, or you can continue on the route, traversing the hills to reach Scalebar where the village of Gargrave will come into view. Descend into Gargrave which is your stop for the night. Gargrave stands near the site of a Roman fort and the village church includes fragments of the original 9th and 10th century crosses.
Ascent: 520m / 1705ft | Descent 600m / 1970ft
Stay overnight in Gargrave. Luggage will be transferred.
F: Gargrave to Malham (6.5 miles / 10.5 km)
Strong walkers may choose to combine this route with the previous day’s walking, allowing for either the overall holiday to be shortened or to permit a rest day. The route however is only half a day’s walking and is relatively flat so offers pleasant respite from the previous and future terrain and also grants opportunity to visit landmarks including the spectacular Gordale Scar (a short detour) and Malham Cove.
Starting at Gargrave, the route initially follows the quiet road before crossing a stone stile into nearby farmland. Continue onto pass the Middle Plantation following the path onward across grassy fields. After a while, the route runs for a distance alongside the River Aire, on past Newfield Hall which was built in 1865. From here, continue along the route and you can divert into Airton which is an old mill town, or continuing onto Hanlith. Here the landscape is closer to a grassy parkland than the moorland of the area and you will usually see cattle grazing grassy fields among tall, isolated trees. From there, the path drops to return to the river at Aire Head before reaching the village of Malham - your stop for the night. You can divert here to Janet’s Foo and Gordale Scar if you want to explore the scenery.
Ascent: 180m / 590ft | Descent 90m / 295ft
Stay overnight in Malham. Luggage will be transferred.
G: Malham to Horton in Ribblesdale (14.5 miles / 23.5 km)
Leaving Malham behind, today’s route returns to the hills as it enters the Yorkshire Dales proper. If you didn’t visit it yesterday, today’s route passes the iconic cliff face of Malham Cove and you can opt to detour to its base or climb 400 steps to its edge to continue the route. If they are nesting, the RSPB often sets up a Peregrine Falcon watching station here too. Malham Cove was once an unbroken waterfall which at 70m was taller than Niagara Falls, but now the river travels underground to emerge at the bottom. Interestingly, high levels of rain in December 2015 caused the waterfall to reappear temporarily, making it the tallest unbroken fall in England while it was running. Leaving Malham Cove behind, walkers enter the grassy floor of the valley, which is lined with plenty of limestone cliffs, and follows the drystone walls all the way to the river, before the river disappears underground at Water Sinks. From there the path continues, skirting the edge of Malham Tarn, passing through woodland to reach Malham Tarn House. Malham Tarn is unusual in that the surrounding rock is all permeable limestone, but the bottom of the lake is in fact an unusual patch of Silurian slate which holds the water on the surface. Next landmark is Tennant Gill before the route continues to Fountains Fell and from there on to Rainscar and Dale Head before reaching the trig point at Pen-Y-Ghent at 694m / 2277ft. The limestone in this area is riddled with caves and while some have been explored, many are too narrow to enter. Descend from here to Horton in Ribblesdale which is a lovely little village but quite strung out.
Ascent: 800m / 2625ft | Descent 760m / 2495ft
Stay overnight in Horton in Ribblesdale. Luggage will be transferred.
H: Horton in Ribblesdale to Hawes (13.75 miles / 22 km)
The route is quite higgledy piggledy today as it often follows old packhorse routes. Largely, the first half of the day runs uphill and the second half of the day runs downhill, but the overall ascent and descent is not too great. Leaving Horton in Ribblesdale behind, the first landmark is Sell Gill Holes which is a cave series that has a ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ entrance – they require ropes to enter but are worth a look anyway. The track crosses grassy, rushy moor and is grassy underfoot, with views across Ingleborough and Whernside. Trees to the right hide more caves and then from here the path becomes somewhat stony heading up onto Birkwith Moor. More caves can be viewed at Calf Holes, often explored by novices, but still requiring ropes, before the path continues to the National Nature Reserve of Ling Gill which features a rock-filled gorge. The nearby Cam Beck river has a number of weirs which were installed to support native crayfish populations. The next section at Cam End and the Cam End High Road is based on an old Roman road and here you turn into Cam Woodlands and on to Kidhow and Dodd Fell as the next major landmarks. Passing through the village of Gayle it is not long until you reach the village of Hawes where you will stay tonight. The village is gorgeous and attractions include Dales Countryside Museum in the old railway station, the National Park Centre and also the Wensleydale Creamery where Cistercian monks made the first Wensleydale cheese.
Ascent: 450m / 1475ft | Descent 450m / 1475ft
Stay overnight in Hawes. Luggage will be transferred.
I: Hawes to Keld (12.5 miles / 20 km)
The majority of today’s walking includes a long, slow ascent and a long slow descent across a moorland crest. Walkers are often very exposed, so it is important to dress for the weather, but the boggiest spots are paved with flagstones to assist crossing. Leaving Hawes behind you will cross fields before passing alongside the River Ure on the approach to Hardraw. There is a recommended detour here to walk the few hundred metres to Hardraw Force – a beautiful waterfall that is stunning whatever the weather. From here, a long broad climb takes you across the moorland to climb the moorland crest over Great Shunner Fell, passing the cairn at Humesett. The climb offers a few false summits but the views more than make up for the falsehoods and you will eventually reach the trig point at the summit at 716m (2349ft). From here you begin the equally long descent, passing the beacon and descending off the moorland hill to reach the village of Thwaite. You are not too far from the finish here (about 5km) but Thwaite does offer a tea shop and provisions. From here, the route returns to farmland to pass Kisdon onto some boulder slopes and down into Keld. Keld is a beautiful village which features stout stone houses typical of the region, along with the resource centre which is worth a visit, and you can take a trip upstream or downstream along the River Swale visiting waterfalls including Catrake Force, Kisdon Force and Wain Wath Force.
Ascent: 670m / 2200ft | Descent 590m / 1935ft
Stay overnight in Keld. Luggage will be transferred.
J: Keld to Baldersdale (14.25 miles / 23 km)
Leaving the village of Keld behind, the Pennine Way climbs steadily with a few patches of soggy moorland to traverse before reaching the drier heather moorland ahead. The route passes Frith Lodge and climbs onto Stonesdale Moor where it becomes a stony track. Along the way, you will see spoil heaps from the old coal mining industry of the area before reaching Tan Hill and the Tan Hill Inn. This inn is the highest inn in Britain at 530m and also marks the end of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the start of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Once you’ve left the inn behind, you will follow a firm grassy path as it winds downhill before entering Sleightholme Moor which is often wet and mossy but fairly flat and easily walked. For many, a detour of 6.5km is added onto the trip to take advantage of the Bowes Loop and better accommodation availability in Bowes, however our route continues along the true Pennine Way to Clove Lodge where transport will be arranged to nearby Cotherstone to stay overnight.
As an alternative, strong walkers can complete a further 10km to spend the night in Middleton-in-Teesdale and reduce the trip by one day or enjoy a rest day.
Ascent: 460m / 1510ft | Descent 470m / 1540ft
Stay overnight in Cotherstone. Luggage will be transferred.
K: Baldersdale to Middleton-in-Teesdale (6.5 miles / 10.5 km)
Please note this route can be combined with the previous day’s walking for strong walkers to shorten the trip if preferred.
Today’s walking is mostly across dry moorland although there are still a few patches of bog to walk across. Returning to Clove Lodge at Baldersdale by transfer, your walk restarts with a bridge crossing at Blackton Reservoir with nearby Blackton Nature Reserve and then on to Hannah’s Meadow Nature Reserve. Hannah’s Meadow offers fine examples of Pennine hayfields. From here it is a climb up to the crest of Hazelgarth Rigg at 375m with a view of Lundale on offer ahead. The path turns downhill again leading to the Grassholme Reservoir where you will cross a five-arch bridge to reach the ongoing farmland. Much of the remaining walk is across farmland and some moorland including Harter Fell where you will get your first view of Middleton-in-Teesdale some way ahead. Middleton-in-Teesdale is your stop for the night and the small town has origins in the 12th-century as an important settlement and trading place for the local farming community. There is a lot of history here including the town’s time as a market, a mill town, a lead-mining town and much more besides.
Ascent: 300m / 985ft | Descent 400m / 1310ft
Stay overnight in MIddleton-in-Teesdale. Luggage will be transferred.
The routing is subject to accommodation availability and will be as follows using the Route letters from A to K above.
The route / itinerary can be shortened by one day, by combining E & F together
The route / itinerary can be shortened by one day, by combining J & K together.
The correct clothes are important to ensure comfort during each walk. We suggest avoidanything with seams and buttons in sensitive areas. Clothing should take moisture from the body to the outside. Sweatshirts, thin pullovers and breathable jackets are ideal companions during the cooler days. Take light, waterproof jackets and trousers in case there is rain. On hot days we suggest a cap or hat and sunglasses to protect from the sun.
- The rugged Peak District landscape
- Moorland Visitor Centre
- Many waterfalls, including Kinder Downfall, Catrake Force, Kisdon Force and Wain Wath Force
- Top Withins which featured in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights
- Gordale Scar
- Malham Cove
- Dales Countryside Museum
- National Park Centre
- Wensleydale Creamery
- Yorkshire Dales National Park
- North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
- Many more...