Exploring the Pennine Way3rd November 2006
Last Sunday was not the first occasion that I walked along part of the Pennine Way; I already been along different sections at different times and in no particular order. Given that its southern terminus is at Edale in Derbyshire, not that far from where I live in Cheshire, my acquaintance with the long distance trail should come as little surprise. Last Sunday took me from Torside reservoir towards the Snake Pass but a sunny Saturday in September 2005 saw me journey along the Way as part of a walk from Edale to Glossop. Before that, I journeyed from Marsden in Yorkshire to Hadfield in Derbyshire, taking in another part of the way on a day that started out glum and ended up glorious.
While all that means that I trotted along most of the way between Marsden and Edale, there are other short sections on which I have been as well. For instance, in July 2002, I walked from Hebden (near Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales) to Malham via the Dales Way, Mastiles Lane, other paths and, of course, the Pennine Way. That meant that section between Malham Tarn and Malham has been visited by my boots. Another short Yorkshire section that has received attention from my boots is that around Pen-y-Ghent in Ribblesdale: the Way goes right over this member of Yorkshire’s three peaks (not ideal for tired legs at the end of the day, then).
Reviewing this uncoordinated series of visits has got me thinking: what about a concerted effort? I am not talking about doing it all (or the parts that I have yet to encounter) in one hit but planning to complete it in sections rather than the hotchpotch approach that I have taken to date. For instance, I have been looking a hill day staring in Marsden and heading to Littleborough, Todmorden or Hebden Bridge, depending on how fit I feel and the length of the day. Another thought is to have a look at the northernmost sections around Bellingham and Kirk Yetholm, its northern terminus. Both are reasonably accessible with regular bus services. Then there is everything in between; Terry Marsh’s Pennine Way (published by Dalesman) and a good deal of travel planning will help to make inroads on that front. This venture would take me into areas where I have to encounter and some that where my encounters have been so fleeting that they may as well not have happened at all. Alfred Wainwright (of Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells fame) may not have liked this long distance trail but the idea of completing it all or just seeing more of it seems an appealing prospect to me.