ULTIMATE Guide to Walking The Pennine Way + Wild Camping

Wild camping on hill with tent and clouds

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In July, I walked the Pennine Way National Trail solo, carrying all my own gear and wild camping along the way. 

This was my second time hiking the Pennine Way, as I wanted to hike it again but solo this time. In 2019, I walked the trail with a friend as part of a longer 952-mile walk, my E2W Challenge

After starting my previous trip from Edale (the official start), walking northbound (NOBO) I decided to flip the route for this attempt and go from Kirk Yetholm to Edale, southbound (SOBO).

So yes, effectively this time I was walking it backwards but it’s a great way to see the trail from a different perspective. And as I set off from Kirk Yetholm I was lucky enough to meet all the NOBO hikers on the way (all 101 of them!)

Here you can find everything from wild camping tips, food and resupply points, water, plus loads more useful information and frequently asked questions (FAQs). 

Do you fancy a challenge? Maybe the Pennine Way could be your next adventure?

Becky hiking on track
Hiking towards Pen y Ghent on the Pennine Way

Wild camping the Pennine Way – The Plan

Here I’ll share my tips for wild camping the Pennine Way, how I planned to split my journey up. I’ll also include where I wild camped each night, with a few other options or places that would be good camping spots.

You can also see my full kit list, which I carried in my Osprey Kyte 36-litre backpack!

I shared my journey via Instagram Stories @beckythetraveller so you can check those out via my Highlights.

About the Pennine Way

The Pennine Way trail official start is in Edale in the Peak District and it ends in the town of Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders.

The total distance of the trail is 268 miles/431 km. It’s known as the toughest national trail in the UK, due to it’s long remote sections of the trail. Although, it’s not the longest, that’s the South West Coast Path (yes on my list – although I have hiked the 95-mile Jurassic Coast section).

The Pennine Way trail goes via several national parks and areas of outstanding national beauty (AONB) – Peak District, Yorkshire Dales, North Pennines and Northumberland National Park so there’s plenty of gorgeous scenery and views to enjoy on the way.

Check out some of the highlights below!

Highlights on the Pennine Way

This section could include so many beautiful spots that you see on the way but here are a few of my favourite highlights, from the beautiful village of  Edale in Derbyshire and the lovely Nags Head pub!

I’ve added links to my Instagram photos if you want to take a look at any of the spots!

Becky stood at High Cup Nick
High Cup Nick on the Pennine Way trail
Stoodley Pike on the Pennine Way

How long does it take to hike the Pennine Way?

This answer is completely different for each person walking the Pennine Way trail, at 268 miles it’s certainly not a walk you can do on a weekend but with some careful planning to include 3 weekends you can potentially fit into a 2 week block, ie. 16 days with three weekends. 

However, if you’re planning to wild camp along the route this gives you a huge amount of flexibility as you’re not walking to the towns/villages with accommodation but picking your own spots to camp and sleep on the route.

Here’s the average distance you’d walk each day depending on how many days you split the walk over, this does mean you’ll have shorter/longer days.

  • 20 days = 13 miles per day
  • 16 days = 17 miles per day
  • 13 days = 21 miles per day
  • 10 days = 27 miles per day

My Pennine Way hike in 2019 took me 16.5 days, with the last day being a nice 6-mile downhill into Kirk Yetholm to arrive at the pub for lunch!

The plan for my 2021 hike was 13 days, I ended up taking 12.5 days (my half day was my first day as I started on Saturday afternoon after my train/taxi journey)

Hiking the Yorkshire Dales section of the Pennine Way

Planning my Pennine Way trip

A few people of asked how I planned my Pennine Way trip and how I picked my wild camping spots.

My first task was to review the route and break it down into manageable chunks, ie. what I felt comfortable hiking each day with my full kit. I’ve done long-distance hikes before so 18-22 miles (30-36 km) each day was right for me. That’s where I came up with the 13-day plan.

I created a spreadsheet with rough sections and potential wild camp spots to see how it fitted with my plan. Out of the 12 nights I wild camped at 5 spots I’d planned, the rest were found either on the day or planned the night before (see wild camping section below).

Then I researched the main food shops on the route (see food and water section below) to work out how much food I needed to take from the start (I took 3 days food) and for water the first section Kirk Yetholm to Byrness had no water so I factored that in by carrying 3.5 litres from the start.

Next was looking at transport, how to get to Kirk Yetholm and when I could start hiking. I had a Plan A & B option depending on the weather. Plan A – was to start as soon as I arrived in Kirk Yetholm. Plan B was to stay overnight in Kirk Yetholm and start the following day. A few days before I checked the weather and decided Plan A would be right for this trip.

Waterfall and green trees
High Force waterfall between Middleton-in-Teesdale and Dufton section

My Pennine Way route stages

I planned to split my Pennine Way hike up over 13 days, averaging about 21 miles each day. The plan was to make sure the towns and villages were during the middle of my day which meant I could stop their for food and supplies without needing to carry too much! I’ll talk about food later!

Here’s my Pennine Way wild camp route day by day.

  1. Kirk Yetholm to near Windy Gyle
  2. Windy Gyle via Byrness to Lord’s Shaw
  3. Lord’s Shaw via Bellingham to Haughton Common
  4. Haughton Common via Hadrian’s Wall and Greenhead to Slaggyford (friend’s sofa)
  5. Slaggyford via Alston to Cross Fell
  6. Cross Fell via Dufton to Sayer Hill Farm (campsite)
  7. Sayer Hill Farm via Middleton-in-Teesdale to Brown Rigg Moss (1 km off-route)
  8. Brown Rigg Moss via Keld to Great Shunner Fell
  9. Great Shunner Fell via Hawes and Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Pen-y-Ghent
  10. Pen-y-Ghent via Malham to Pinshaw Beacon
  11. Pinshaw Beacon via Ickonshaw/Cowing and Calder Valley to Light Hazzles Reservoir
  12. Light Hazzles Reservoir via Standedge to Crowden Campsite
  13. Crowden Campsite to Edale

SOBO route

Kirk Yetholm to Edale

Pennine Way wild camping

MSR Hubba tent on grass with sunset colours
Wild camping spot watching the sunset

How easy is it to wild camp on the Pennine Way?

As a long distance trail that goes through some remote parts of England it’s a good one to find wild camp spots on the way. But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy!

Out of my 12 nights on the Pennine Way trail I wild camped nine nights, spent two in campsites (Sayer Hill Farm near High Force and Crowden Campsite) and one on a sofa!

For my first night I had a rough idea of where I wanted to wild camp with a back up plan, I often plan my first night’s camp then are more flexible after that! I knew there was a Mountain Hut at the 6/7 mile point (because I stayed here in 2019) I arrived here at 5.30 pm but I was having too much fun to stop hiking.

For the rest of the hike, out of the nine wild camp spots I camped on seven hills, a high but remote spot and one low level spot. Including the highest point on the trail Cross Fell (known for being extremely windy) and with 35 mph wind gusts it didn’t disappoint but knowing my tent would be fine in those speeds the plan worked for me.

Often when I am wild camping my priorities are different according to the weather. In rainy or strong winds I want to be in a sheltered spot but on this trip with high temperatures and low wind speeds I opted to be higher up to avoid the midges and have a cooler night’s sleep.

My second night was the hardest one to find a spot between Byrness and Bellingham, mainly because the surrounding areas were forestry, farmland or covered in heather! I did find a small patch of grass eventually on Lord’s Shaw and did a happy dance!

Each day I’d set off then about 4/5 pm I’d start thinking about how much further my legs and I could walk, that’s basically how I picked my spots!

Wild camping guidelines on the Pennine Way

I have a detailed guide if you’re new to wild camping and you can read that here but here’s the rough guidelines I used whilst wild camping on the Pennine Way.

  • Always Leave No Trace – Simple and straightforward, it’s like I was never there!
  • Arrive Late – I finished hiking each between 7.30-10.00 pm and I’d pitch my tent then (If I’d arrived earlier I’d have just waited to pitch my tent). But I planned my days with lots of stops to ensure I arrived late each night.
  • Leave Early – Sunrise was 4.50 am so my alarm went off about 4.40 am to watch the sunrise then I’d be packed up and on the move for 6 am. The only morning I got caught taking my tent down was on Pinshaw Beacon (an early morning dog walker!)
  • Pitch on Access Land NOT private land – Each of my camp spots I aimed to pitch on Access Land (shaded in light yellow on the OS maps), not always easy in some parts and you might need to walk further than you’d planned.
  • Pitch away from houses/civilisation – This was my tactic of hitting the towns and villages at the middle of the day, meaning I was then in the most remote area towards the end of the hike.
Wild camp spot on the Pennine Way

Toilets on the Pennine Way

Another one if you’re new to wild camping maybe worth reading my detailed guide on going to the toilet outdoors. Read here.

As you’ll see from my food stops below, I visited places for food, water but also their toilets!

I carried my toilet kit (tissues, waste bag, trowel) with me, with one addition on this trip, a pee cloth, which was brilliant. Get in touch if you want to know more!

Pee cloth attached to backpack
Pee cloth that I used on the hike

As regards to public toilets there aren’t loads on the way but there are a few! Here are the ones I found or used! Most of these are at the towns and villages so I appreciate if you’re staying here you’d probably use your accommodation but for my wild camping trip hitting these halfway though the day they were perfect.

Public toilets – Crowden, Malham Visitor Centre, Keld (paid) Hadrian’s Wall (2 sets)

Other toilets – Pit stop (between end of Hadrian’s Wall and Bellingham)

Pennine Way Food + Water

Food on the Pennine Way

My strategy for the Pennine Way was to eat at the towns and villages on route, supporting many small independent places on my hike. It didn’t always go to plan, as some places were permanently closed and others had random days they closed (on the day I was there haha).

Greenhead Tearoom – off Pennine Way trail but worth visiting!

Here is where I ate and resupplied on the route. There looks a lot (most were lunch stops) but I probably didn’t eat as much as I should have done and some were drink/toilet stops!

  • Day 1 – Kirk Yetholm – I set off with 3 days worth of food, more than enough but I wanted give myself flexibility at the start!
  • Day 2 – Byrness – No shops but I visited Forest View Inn (700 m off-route), they were closed but kindly gave me a coffee (possible honesty option coming soon)
  • Day 3 – Bellingham – Breakfast at The Carriages Tearoom + resupply breakfast bars/drink at Co-op
  • Day 4 – Greenhead – Lunch at Greenhead Tearoom (500 m off-route) but worth it! and SlaggyfordResupply from Alston Co-op (my friend drove me to save the detour the next day)
  • Day 5 – Alston (just before or after depending on direction of your walk) – Breakfast butty and takeaway lunch from Nook Farm Shop (300 m off-route) and Garrigill – Bonus snack and water from the Post Office and a rest stop on the Village Green (pub currently closed)
  • Day 7 – High Force – Coffee and cake with a friend at High Force Hotel (600 m off route) and Middleton-in-Teesdale – Lunch at Cafe Fresh + resupply at Co-op
  • Day 8 – Tan Hill – Drink stop at pub (hot day!!!) and Keld – Snack stop at cafe (small menu but sausage roll and drink welcome in the heat!)  Pub – no food until evening and Thwaite – Drink stop at pub (hot day!!!)
  • Day 9 – Horton-in-Ribblesdale – Drink stop at pub (hot day!!!)
  • Day 10 – Malham – Lunch stop at The Listers Arms (BEST food stop) and GargraveResupply at Co-op
  • Day 11- Calder Valley – Snack from May’s Farm Shop (400 m off-route)
  • Day 12 – Crowden Campsite – snack + drinks
  • Day 13 – Edale – Dinner + drinks in The Nags Head
Train carriage as a tearoom
The Carriages Tearoom in Bellingham – loved this!

Other places I’d potentially planned to stop at were:

  • Dufton – Food fail! Plan to get lunch but pub closed until 5 pm and cafe closed on Thursdays! But I had supplies!
  • Hardraw + Hawes – arrived early Sunday morning pub and everything closed!

How easy is it to find water on the Pennine Way?

There is pretty much water along the whole of the route, with the exception of Kirk Yetholm to Byrness section.

Each tearoom or cafe I stopped at I asked them to fill up my water and I also drank water at pub (lime and sodas) and cafe stops so avoid having to carry so much.

I also topped up at Squirrel Lodge Campsite (an amazing place where I’ve stayed before!) And a lady overheard a walker and I talking about water and offer to refill our bottles. I hiked in the crazy UK heatwave so water was in demand on my walk!

Platypus water filter
Filtering water with my Platypus Quickdraw

With the weather being extremely hot I also filtered and drank water when I saw it, I’d generally drink 500-750 ml at each stream then fill my water carriers to continue the route.

I’d check the water sources on my map the day before and throughout the day, many of the higher water sources had completely dried up or were still pools which I prefer to avoid. For example, Kinder Downfall was pretty much dry, God’s Bridge was stagnant pools and sources up to Fountains Fell were completely dry (just to name a few).

Rocky terrain and grass
God’s Bridge – nature’s bridge but also no flowing water!

Pennine Way Wild Camping Kit List

Here’s the kit I took on my Pennine Way adventure! I’ve included the items I didn’t use on the trip and comments to help you decide what to take. 

Please remember when you’re planning your trip that everyone’s kit list will be different, some people want to go ultra-light and are happy to relinquish some comfort for weight, others prefer to keep their luxury items.

I’m somewhere in the middle, I’m not an ultra-light hiker but I like to go as light as I can! I’ve tweaked and replaced kit over the years but I’d rather carry extra weight and have a tent as my shelter instead of a bivvy/tarp combo. 

I also don’t like being cold so I’m happy to carry an extra layer to make sure I’m warm! And yes, I took gloves, I have stupidly cold hands ALL seasons and I did use them several times.

Hopefully, you can use this kit list as a guide and amend your own kit to suit what’s important to you! You can read my spring to winter wild camping kit list including tips for reducing your weight here.

Backpack 

I used my Osprey Kyte 36-litre backpack, I tested on my 5-day hiking trip fo the Cumbria Way and it fitted all my gear and food comfortably so I decided it would be perfect for the Pennine Way too!.

I don’t use a pack cover but instead I use a pack liner then these ultralight Osprey dry sacks (in different colours) to keep my gear organised and easy to find! 

Osprey Kyte 36
Backpack also doubling as a washing line with my socks drying!

Camping gear 

Here’s my wild camp tent/sleeping set up for the Pennine Way. If you want to go lighter then a bivvy/tarp is an option but I love my tent!

Total weight of tent and sleep system = 2.4 kg

Read my review here on my MSR Hubba NX. It’s a brilliant lightweight tent for 3-season camping trips.

Thoughts with kit

I was happy with my kit for the trip, as I camped up high I was glad I had my liner for extra warmth, but if you were planning low-level wild camps of campsite you probably wouldn’t need it.

My pillow is my luxury item, I sleep so much better with it but you could always use a down jacket/fleece as a pillow.

I had one issue with my Thermarest mat, it seemed to start deflating about halfway through the trip, I had a repair kit but couldn’t find a hole. My conclusion was it was a faulty valve, annoying but not the end of whe world, I would blow it back up during the night. (I’m in touch with Thermarest now that I’ve returned).

Cooking gear

I have the MSR cooking stove kit which included the stove, cooking pot and bowl – similar to this standard one from Cotswold Outdoor. I have the Deluxe which has a self ignitor which is very handy. I left the bowl at home for this trip.

Alternatively, check out the Pocket Rocket standard stove on its own – Base Camp Food

Camping stove and pot
MSR Pocket Rocket – boiling water for morning coffee!

Cooking gear weight = 0.7 kg

Thoughts with cooking kit

I didn’t do loads of cooking on the stove, mainly boiling water for a few camp meals and I love a cup of coffee in the morning and peppermint tea at night. Due to the heatwave I had less hot drinks in the evening!

I could have got away with leaving my mug behind and using the cooking pot as my drinking vessel and I didn’t need to use the lighter as my ignitor worked perfectly!

Gas – I used less than half the gas canister and could have taken a smaller one but I find the medium sized more cost effective for me.

Clothes + footwear

Here’s my clothing and footwear I wore/took on the hike!

  • Hiking shoes – Salomon XA Pro 3D V8
  • Waterproof jacket – Salomon 360 lightweight jacket 
  • Waterproof trousers – Salomon Bonatti (didn’t use)

For my long-distance hikes, I have one set of clothes for hiking and one set for when I get to camp (thermals, socks and a down jacket). 

  • Base layer – t-shirt (wear)
  • Thin hoodie (wear)
  • Thin fleece (wear)
  • Hiking shorts (wear)
  • Sports bra (wear)
  • Warm down jacket (for camp)
  • Underwear x 4
  • Socks x 4 (camp socks 2 x hiking socks)
  • Buff 
  • Thin hat
  • Gloves – Sealskinz
  • Thin base layers for sleeping/camp clothes
Becky stood next to Hadrian's Wall
My daily hiking gear, normally wearing my shoes haha

Thoughts on clothes

Lesson one you can never predict was the British weather will do! The first week the temperatures were warm but comfortable, the second week they rocketed and made for some tough days!

I did start hiking early on most days when it was cooler so I was glad to have my thin hoodie, fleece and waterproof for hiking (I didn’t always wear everything, it depended how high up I’d camped).

If I’d not planned to camp up high I could have got away with leaving my down jacket behind and only having the fleece but I did wear both together several times once I’d finished walking for the day (mainly week 1).

My waterproof trousers I didn’t wear at all, even when it rained, the forecasts weren’t awful and I’m not a fan of shorts/waterproof trouser combo. I probably could have left behind!

Other hiking gear

Platypus Quickdraw filter
Platypus Quickdraw water filter

Thoughts on hiking gear

At the start (or end) of the trail (Kirk Yetholm to Byrness) there are no good water sources so I carried carry extra water (why I took the 2-litre hydration pack). For the remainder of the trip, I carried about 1-1.5 litres of water and use the filter. (I’ll cover in detail below).

First aid kit – I used various items, I wish I’d take anti-histamine cream (my friend met me in Hawes and gave me some). I treated a lady who’d fallen and wished I’d had some bigger graze dressings to help her.

Other items

Thoughts on other items

I bought the 20000 Anker power bank for my 5-day Bob Graham hike and it was amazing so it came along on this trip. I also charged my phone at cafes on route and I used my phone in flight mode to preserve battery. I just about lasted the trip, with my last day only have 60% for the full day. As I was posting on Instagram I used more than a normal amount!

Due to the weather I needed more suncream, I’d planned to buy more but my friend met me in Hawes and I topped up my small bottle from hers 🙂 And not surprisingly due to the the weather I didn’t need to use the Aquapac but I would still take again.

Cake at High Force Hotel + charging my phone whilst resting!

Food for the hike

Here’s the food I took from the start, enough for 3 days, with my first food stop at Bellingham at the start of day 3 to re-supply.

  • Peppermint tea bags x 20
  • Coffee sachets x 12 (Campfire coffee)
  • Freeze-dried meals x 3 (Huel + Summit to Eat) 
  • Breakfast bars x 6
  • Snack bars x 6
  • Kendal mint cake x 1 small pack
  • Clif energy bloks x 3 packs 
  • ORS hydration tablets – 1 tube (20 tablets)
  • Trail mix x 1 (own mix include dried fruit, nuts, sweets)
  • Bar of dark chocolate

Base Camp Food are great as you can buy a range of different freeze-fried meals, instead of buying one brand you can select different options from their range of brands, including Summit to Eat, Firepot and Expedition Foods.

Kit weight

Here is the weight of my kit at the start of the walk:

Base weight (all camping + other kit) = 8.5 kg

Food (listed above) = 1.6 kg

Water (3-litre)* = 3 kg

Total weight = 13.1 kg

*Note – I carried more water at the start due to lack of water in the Cheviots section, however, after I found water sources and filtered water. so only carried about 1-1.5 litres.

My weight once I’d left the Cheviots was between 10-11 kg (roughly).

Pennine Way – Useful Information

Transport to the start/finish of the Pennine Way

This will largely factor on where you live in the UK (or abroad!) Out of the two locations, Edale is by far the easiest location to get to with Kirk Yetholm having limited options, that’s if you’re relying on public transport, which is the case for the majority of people doing the walk.

Edale – There is Edale train station about 1 km from the start of the trail. The train route is accessible from both Sheffield or Manchester, with trains roughly 1 per hour.

Kirk Yetholm – The nearest train station is Berwick-upon-Tweed, from there you need to catch two buses to the start. The no. 67 bus from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Kelso (1 hour) and then a second bus, no. 81/81A from Kelso to Kirk Yetholm (20 mins). 

Trains – book in advance to save money, also look to split your journey and buy separate tickets – I use Trainline

Bus timetables

The factor you need to consider is the buses run limited services so there’s a large wait between the train times and bus times. An alternative, is to us a local taxi service (Chris Horton recommended from the Pennine Way Facebook group).

A taxi from Berwick-upon-Tweed would be £40* or from Kelso is £16*. Call Chris to book 07768 070818. (I used Chris’s taxi service and it was brilliant)

*Prices correct at time of writing

On the train to Kirk Yetholm!

Pennine Way accommodation

Airbnbs, B&Bs, guesthouses

If you’re planning on hiking the Pennine Way and staying in accommodation then my best tip is get your trip planned and book your accommodation now!

There are some places that have plenty of options, but others are more limited so it’s worth getting the whole lot booked for piece of mind 🙂

Campsites + wild camping

If you’re planning on camping the route, whether that’s wild camping or staying campsites then you won’t need to book. You can if you want, but all the campsites on the Pennine Way have a walkers rule, ie if you’re a walker then they will find a space for you!

I stayed mostly at campsites in 2019 hike and didn’t book any of them. This trip, I stayed at two and didn’t book them either.

Where can you get food on the Pennine Way?

Resupply stops

Whether you’re wild camping, staying in campsites or accommodation you’ll probably want to restock your food supplies on the way. There are a mix of small shops and supermarkets along the route. 

General store/farm shop – Edale, Calder Valley (May’s Farm shop), Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Airton + Kirk Yetholm

Supermarket – Co-op/Spar – Hebden Bridge (off-route), Gargrave, Hawes, Middleton-in-Teesdale, Alston + Bellingham

May’s Farm shop – sells everything you could need!

Pubs, cafes, tearooms + honesty boxes

In each town and village there’s normally either a shop, pub, tearoom or a mix of everything! 

Also along the walk, you’ll come across honestly boxes, so make sure you pack some change to buy treats on the way!

What bothies + shelters are on the trail?

There are a few bothies, managed by the Mountain Bothy Association on the route, most of these are on the northern section of the route. At the moment, current guidelines are that the bothies are now open again but it’s worth reading their guidelines if you plan to use.

Bothy

  • Top Withins Bothy – SD 98104 35354
  • Greg’s Hut (near Cross Fell) – NY 69082 35419
  • Spithope Bothy (slightly off route near Bryness Hill) – NT 76674 05414
  • Mountain Refuge Hut (near Lamb Hill) – NT 80405 12879
  • Auchope Hut (near The Cheviot) – NT 87723 20164
Mountain Hut
Mountain Hut in The Cheviots
Greg's Hut near Cross Fell
Mountain Hut near Cross Fell

Shelter

These are more basic wind shelters, mostly without cover on top!

  • Pen-y-Ghent summit
  • Little Dunn Fell* – NY 70364 33196
  • Cross Fell summit* – NY 68752 34335
  • The Cheviot (near summit)

*(A better shelter is Greg’s Hut about 1/2 km further on)

As you can see, there is limited shelter on most of the walk, with the exception of cafes, pubs and tearooms on route!

My Pennine Way costs

I decided for this Pennine Way trip that although I was doing on a budget as regards to accommodation I wanted to spend money in the local towns and villages in their cafes/tearooms and pubs to support independent businesses on the trail where possible!

Most of my food stops were during the middle of the day so I didn’t want to eat a huge meal before continuing hiking but I still treated myself where possible!

If you wanted to do the trip on a budget, you could save money on travel by catching two buses instead of a taxi £7 versus £40 (from/to Kirk Yetholm). Or eaten out at less places on the route, (my biggest food bill was my meal at the Nags Head in Edale £32)

Food + drinks (5 x cafes/tearooms) = £53.65

Food + drinks (2 x pubs) = £39.70

Pub stops (4 x drinks only) = £10.25

Resupply food + drinks (3 main shops + 4 smaller shops) = £64.08

Campsites (two) = £13.00

Travel (tram, train + taxi) = £52.40 (a family member works for Cross Country trains so I was lucky enough to get a discount)

Total costs = £233.08

Becky sat in MSR Hubba
Hanging out in my tent on the Pennie Way!

Pennine Way FAQ

I did a short Q&A via my Instagram which you can view in my Highlights. I couldn’t answer every question so here are a few answers here to the common Pennine Way questions.

How do you cope with cows?

I met a lot of cows on the Pennine Way trail, some were not bothered with me in the slightest, others glanced up as I walked by and some were a pain and refused to move! My thoughts are, firstly, this is a National Trail, the cows on the trail are fairly used to people and are mostly due curious and want to say hi!

My techniques were either walk a slightly longer route around them, tell them to move, or when I was really tired I just headed straight through the herd!

Cows next to Pennine Way signpost
Herd of cows on the Pennine Way trail

Is there a big difference doing both ways?

A difficult one to answer, I hiked a different journey each time, the first with a friend then this time solo. My first trip had a mix of bad weather, rainy days and missing views, whereas this trip was almost 100% views and a crazy heatwave to deal with!

The Cheviots is known as a tough section and I’d agree, that felt good to do at the beginning on fresh legs also, arriving back into a familiar place, Edale was a lovely welcome home.

Nags Head pub in Edale
Finished the Pennine Way in Edale

Walking the opposite direction means you get to see views from a different perspective, heading towards Horton-in-Ribblesdale from Hawes and seeing Ribblehead Viaduct and Pen-y-Ghent ahead.

I also walked up the long track to Greg’s Hut and Cross Fell, one that in the opposite direction feels tough but I quite enjoyed hiking up it!

The sections I was slightly concerned about were the downhill scramble from Cauldron Snout and Pen-y-Ghent, but in dry weather I found them relatively straightforward. I took it slow and steady, although I did bend my pole on the way down from Pen-y-Ghent oops!

Is the Pennine Way well signposted? How much map reading skills do you need?

For this trip, I used a combination of GPX on my watch, a simple direction arrow and line. Plus OS Maps on my phone. I also used the signposts to guide me too, a combined effort. Oh, and I had the advantage of doing the trail once in full as well as Edale to Horton-in-Ribblesdale before.

Overall, I missed my turning twice, both on tracks when I got carried away and forgot to look where I was going, but I was only 200 m off route so not too bad!

There is good signage along a good chunk of the trail but there are sections that you need to be keeping at eye on the route. For example, Greenhead to Slaggyford feels an easy section to go wrong (I met 6 people who’d gone off path on that way!)

Generally, the signs were better throughout the National Park sections, and seemed to fade slightly on the in-between sections. You’d notice a mix of different official looking ones to some fairly simple PW signs!

Pennine Way signpost in the Peak District
Pennine Way signpost in the Peak District

Tips for blister prevention and how to continue walking with them?

Blisters are something that affect everyone differently, I have rather awkward feet (different sizes and bunions haha) so it does mean that certain toes get more squashed than other people’s!

My tactic for feet care was…

  • Take my socks and shoes off at rest stops, letting my feet breathe
  • Not ignore little niggles where possible, get them plastered and taped up
  • Use Compeed – amazing plasters but I messed up a couple of times as my feet weren’t dry so they didn’t stick properly!
  • Use talcum powder to absorb extra moisture.
  • End of day care – shoes and socks off asap. Wash and dry feet, put in clean socks and don’t get wet again. I used bread bags inside my shoes to I didn’t get them wet!
Becky sat on grass with shoes off
Stopping for a break with shoes off to rest!

More questions about the Pennine Way?

Let me know if you have any more questions about the Pennine Way hike in the comments below. And let me know if you’re planning to do the walk too!

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9 thoughts on “ULTIMATE Guide to Walking The Pennine Way + Wild Camping

  1. Kevin Ball says:

    Hello Becky,
    You could add Haughtongreen bothy to tour bothy section it’s on the edge of wark forest about 400m off trail.
    Kevin

  2. Roland says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    These guides you have written are fantastic, so much important and useful information…… I’m about to do the PW on the 8th Sept 2021. It has been 30 yrs since I’ve done any hiking, have all my kit together, been training and ready to go. Am planning, like you, to wild camp as much as possible, the info about food stops, shelter sights to see is excellent. Thank you so much Becky, really appreciated.

  3. Brian Fitzsimmons says:

    Hi Becky,
    Wow, Great article, as a beginner and living in North West, I was thinking of walking the transpennine from West to East as practice first. Can you point me to any good guides as I can’t find much helpful on the official site?

    • Becky the Traveller says:

      Thanks so much Brian, I’ve just read your second message so I’d recommend checking out my second website peakdistrictwalks.net as there are loads of walks of different lengths on there from 2 to 23 miles 🙂

  4. Brian Fitzsimmons says:

    Sorry Becky,
    I didn’t make clear. I meant hikes across peak district, not full route. Stuff I can do in at weekends.

  5. Dave B says:

    Hi Becky, great blog and great achievement.
    I did the PW S to N in July 2020 with my cousin, and had horrid weather but still completed it in 14 days. I’m planning to go from N to S on my own next year, but each time I start to think about the weight of my rucksack it puts a dreaded fear into me. Maybe I just need to take less stuff.
    Well done again.

    • Becky the Traveller says:

      Hi Dave, ah thank you so much, that’s really kind of you. Big congrats on completing it too! I’m intrigued how heavy your backpack was, sounds like you carried a lot! On my wild camping kit list post there are a few tips for going more lightweight, maybe worth a read to see if there are any ways you can reduce your weight 🙂

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