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The scenic highlights of the Pennine Way…
This eight-day itinerary explores the striking limestone landscapes of Malham in the Yorkshire Dales before climbing up onto the lonely massif of Cross Fell, where the Lakeland Fells are clearly visible across the Eden Valley. The spectacular finale follows the headwaters of the River Tees to the head of the breath-taking High Cup Nick before descending along the lip of this steep-sided glacial canyon and finishing in the historic market town of Appleby.
PENNINE WAY: SKIPTON TO APPLEBY-IN-WESTMORLAND
Completing the entire 435km/268 mile length of the Pennine Way is a major challenge. For committed and adventurous hikers, it’s an iconic journey that will require a minimum of 12 hard days on the trail. So we’ve put together a condensed itinerary which takes in many of the highlights in a 120km/74-mile route that can be comfortably managed in a week.
Make no mistake, this is still a demanding expedition that requires fitness and determination to complete, but the rewards are some of the most spectacular views and stunning landscapes the Great North of England has to offer.
Starting in the lively market town of Skipton, our ‘highlights’ itinerary threads its way through the Yorkshire Dales and visits the limestone landscapes of Malham Cove, summits one of the famous Yorkshire Three Peaks and stops over for an unforgettable night at Britain’s highest pub. The route continues over the lonely moorlands on Yorkshire’s wild border with County Durham, before descending into the Tees Valley, where it follows the river past a series of thundering waterfalls, before climbing to a stunning finale on the edge of a breath-taking canyon high above the Eden Valley.
- Distance: 74 miles/120km
- Number of Days: 8
- Grade: Challenging
- Theme: History / Geology
- Landscape Type: High Hills & Moorland
This itinerary has been created by Yorkshire-based Large Outdoors, who specialise in organising Outdoor Adventure weekends tours and holidays with a focus on accessible, social walking. Large Outdoors can book every aspect of this itinerary for guests or just simply supply information packs and navigational information. All trips include maps and their own route guide along with a support telephone number. Large Outdoors can also take care of: luggage transfer, restaurant reservations, transfers and travel.
This itinerary breaks down the 8-day journey into daily sections of between 7 and 27km/4.5 and 17 miles. The shorter days allow for transfers in and out on the first and last days. Owing to the nature of the terrain and limited accommodation en route, only minimal options for flexing the itinerary exist – although back-packers will benefit from a little more flexibility.
DAY 1 SKIPTON TO MALHAM
START:Catch the 210 bus from Skipton to Malham and enjoy a short ‘leg-stretcher’ to familiarise yourself with the terrain. This 4.5-mile circular walk explores the jaw-dropping natural amphitheatre of Malham Cove, the ‘clints’ and ‘grykes’ of the limestone pavement above and the waterfalls below before returning to the bustling little hamlet of Malham, where the lively pubs will be packed with fellow hikers. Stay at pub or B&B in Malham. 7km/4.5 miles
DAY 2 MALHAM TO HORTON-IN-RIBBLESDALE
Your first day on the Pennine Way proper leads north, past tranquil Malham Tarn and over Fountains Fell into Three Peaks Country – named after the trio of 2000ft/610m mountains that dominate this landscape: Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-gent (Mountain of the Winds). Scale the rugged southern face of Pen-y-gent before descending into the pretty Yorkshire Dales village of Horton-in-Ribblesdale. Stay at pub or B&B in Horton. 24km/15 miles.
DAY 3 HORTON-IN-RIBBLESDALE TO HAWES
Follow the River Ribble upstream to the stunning viaduct at Ribblehead before following old packhorse routes around the summit of 2191ft/668m Dodd Fell and descending into Wensleydale – famous for the eponymous cheese so beloved of Wallace and Gromit – to reach your overnight destination of Hawes. This close-knit upland village is the centre of a farming community that ekes out a living on these remote fells. Village pubs like The Board Inn offer superb local ales and hearty food and the local creamery – home of Wensleydale Cheese – is not to be missed! 22.5km / 14miles
DAY 4 HAWES TO THE TAN HILL INN
Leaving Hawes, stop off at the powerful cascade of Hardraw Force before continuing north on the sustained climb to the summit of Great Shunner Fell. A stunning panorama stretching for 40 miles in each direction rewards your efforts before descending into the gentler, flower-filled pastures of Swaledale and the achingly pretty villages of Thwaite and Keld. Admire the geometric patterns inscribed on the landscape by the dry-stone walls before climbing again to reach the sanctuary of Britain’s highest pub: the Tan Hill Inn – for the definitive Pennine Way pub experience. 25.7km/16 miles.
DAY 5 TAN HILL INN TO MIDDLETON-IN-TEESDALE
The longest day on the trail crosses the boundary into County Durham and traverses lonely moorland and secret valleys, where the wildflowers are stunning in late spring. This is the most remote section of the trail and you’ll only have the upland birds and grazing cattle for company while distant echoes of Roman Legions and Bronze Age burials are carried away on the breeze into the rustling cotton grass. The descent into Middleton is one of the scenic highlights of the walk. You’ll be ready for a pint at one of this handsome town’s many inns. 27km/17 miles
DAY 6 MIDDLETON-IN-TEESDALE TO LANGDON BECK
Follow the river beneath brooding crags upstream to the thundering waterfalls that punctuate the Upper Tees Valley. Revel in the wildflowers that carpet your route in this largely undiscovered Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and marvel at the mighty torrents of Low Force and High Force, where the Tees tumbles over the Whin Sill – the fault line where iron-hard volcanic dolerite meets softer sedimentary rocks to spectacular effect. Detour for coffee and cake to the informative Bowlees Visitor Centre and stay at the Langdon Beck Hotel – another quirky country inn. 12.8km/8 miles
DAY 7 LANGDON BECK TO DUFTON
Fuel up with a full English breakfast for a big day ahead that most aficionados agree is the best day on the entire Pennine Way. Scramble over the rock formations beside the River Tees to another stunning waterfall at Cauldron Snout, before striking out west across the exposed vastness of the Cross Fell Plateau, crossing the Pennines from East to West to the stark eastern escarpment of the Eden Valley. Admire the huge views across to the Lakeland fells as you encounter the deep glacial gorge of High Cup Nick. Stride out along its northern lip then descend into the hamlet of Dufton. 19km/12 miles
DAY 8 DUFTON TO APPLEBY-IN-WESTMORLAND
Enjoy a lie-in before gently ambling down the Eden Valley to Appleby-in-Westmorland, another vibrant market town with a good choice of pubs and restaurants to celebrate journey’s end. The train journey back to Skipton on the scenic Settle-Carlisle railway is one of the most spectacular journeys in Europe – the perfect book-end to your Pennine Way adventure. 6.4km/4 miles
Accommodation on this section of the Pennine Way can vary from welcoming village Inns like the Lister Arms at Malham to remote yet lively upland pubs such as the iconic Tan Hill Inn – the highest pub in Britain (1732ft/528m above sea level). If the snow starts to fall, your stay may be longer than anticipated…!
Flights into Leeds Airport followed by train to Skipton then 210 bus to Malham to join the trail. Return train to Leeds on the scenic Settle Carlisle railway then transfer to airport. From Manchester and Newcastle airports, the train journey is circa three hours. Train from London to Skipton: three hours.
Car Ferry to Hull from Rotterdam then two-hour (130km) drive to Skipton. Return direct to Skipton via rail on Settle Carlisle Railway. Collect car and return to Hull for ferry.
Good to know:
While there is a good choice of accommodation at each end of this itinerary in Skipton and Appleby, accommodation en route is limited and it’s wise to book ahead well in advance. The limestone sections are usually well-drained, but the sections further north could be water-logged in winter and early spring so walking boots and a full set of waterproofs are recommended. The route remains open all year, but snow and ice can make some sections quite challenging during the winter months (November – March) – particularly the Malham, Pen-y-gent and High Cup Nick sections. The longest days (24km and 26km) may present a challenge to complete in daylight during these months.
Food & Drink:
They take beer very seriously in these parts and walkers will find a bewildering range of local beers to slake their thirst, ranging from light refreshing pale or golden ales like Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery’s Pennine Ambler – official beer of the Pennine Way – to dark and complex brews like Wensleydale Brewery’s Black Dub that are often strong in alcohol. The best food options can be found in the pubs and inns, where hearty pies, warming stews and local lamb feature heavily on the menu.
To book your tour or if you have any questions please contact the office.
Some of our other trips around the Pennines:
Heart of the Yorkshire Dales
Social Walking Weekend to Alston, Pennines
Some recent snaps - Limestone and Legend:
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