Pennine Way Schedule Planning
The subject of planning an adventure is somewhat controversial. There are plenty among us who would argue that an adventure is unplanned and to plan one would be to take away the adventure. Likewise, there are many that would happily argue that planning is an important part of an adventure. I wonder if the Pennine Way could be considered an expedition as much as it can be considered an adventure? In my mind, there is a happy medium between the two. A medium that settles the logistical problems before encountering them while preserving the unknown adventure qualities that the Pennine Way will happily throw at you, whether you are ready or not.
The post you are about to read will cover my logistical notes for obtaining sustenance and shelter while hiking the Pennine Way. It may also include mileage information, useful to gauge how many miles, or days are between two resource locations.
MY IDEAL SCHEDULE
Day 1: Edale – Black Hill (20 miles)
A hefty day to kick off the trail! I’ll be setting off at 9am and will be eager to get some miles under my belt. Last year myself and Dave managed the same mileage with Bleaklow 4 inch under water. I’ll be sure to take a longer break at Kinder Downfall and Bleaklow, intent on filtering some water and have a good refuel before descending to Torside and scaling Crowden Valley. I will be meeting Dave at Black Hill as he will be joining me for the next 3 days.
Day 2: Black Hill – Colden (23 miles)
A somewhat un-recommended mileage. This will likely be my longest day on the trail. An early start and lots of fuel will be in order today. I’ve chosen to smash this day out due to finding it relatively easy. Dave is also joining me for training purposes so a good long day will be good for his training. Ending the day at May’s campsite where a refuel awaits us. This will then set us up for a nice easy day to Squirrel Wood the next day. I am considering shortening this day by staying at Old Chamber Campsite instead. Then adding the extra few miles on to the next day.
Day 3: Colden – Ickornshaw (13 miles)
A shorter day to recover from two previous demanding days. This day is a favourite of mine, with the landscape changing and renewing the mental energy. Coupled with the shorter distance and the prospect of a pizza, bunk house bed and a few beers at Squirrel Wood Campsite, this should be a great day. I think our pace should be leisurely today and a good opportunity to get the cameras out.
Day 4: Ickornshaw – Malham (18 miles)
A deceptively long day from past experience. Squirrel Wood offer a great breakfast but we shall not be staying this year. We are of mutual agreement that an early start is best. Straight out of the bunk house, skipping the breakfast and eating on the go will allow us to get the Gargrave in good time for lunch. Here I’ll be fueling up and stocking up for the next few days. Dave will be savoring his last miles on the trail, for a second year running. One day eh.
Day 5: Malham – Horton (15 miles)
I enjoyed this day on my 2020 attempt. Although I did not have the weather and I was ‘survival’ mode most of the day, only stopping to rest in the deepest of ditches to hide from the wind. It was also a day of solitude for the most part until I reached Pen-Y-Ghent. I quite enjoy the campsite at Horton, although very noisy and busy on the bank holiday last time. I’ve been one other time in the car however where it was quiet. The showers are good and the pub next door is what I like, no nonsense, easy going food and a few drinks. That’s why I’ll be up semi early, get a good spot at the campsite and enjoy a hot shower and a pub meal.
Day 6: Horton – Hawdraw (14.5 miles)
Not a great deal of note today, although the valley on your left as you go along the green lane is very impressive. Most wayfarers will be keen to reach Hawes and pillage it’s supplies. I will be meeting up with my parents in Hawes, have a pub lunch together and re-stock me with a few bits and bobs I can’t pick up in Hawes. Then I will plod on to Hawdraw, perhaps sample the pub there too. Ideally I’d like to get a great big pizza from Hawes Pizza, I hope they deliver..
Day 7: Hawdraw – Keld (11 miles)
I’m approaching half way now and I would like to get a few easy days in. A slow start and an amble up Great Shunner, finished with tea and cake in Thwaite. I do like the campsite in Keld but I wasn’t overly pleased with stopping here overnight while on the Pennine Way. Partly because there is little phone reception and partly due to the next morning’s climb to Tan Hill. I could have progressed further today and reached Tan Hill, but I fancied staying there even less. Any further than Tan Hill would turn this into a long day so Keld it was.
Day 8: Keld – Ravock Castle (13 miles)
This is a second day where the mileage would be little. As I plan on wild-camping tonight, I will be in no rush to leave the campsite at Keld in the morning. A slow and steady saunter up to Tan Hill, perhaps getting a meal. Then I will continue my journey north. As you summit Tan Hill and look out at the great expanse ahead, I get a feeling of going into the Unknown, I feel like I really am leaving the Dales Behind, whose towns and villages I am familiar with, and ranging out further north into the wilderness. Well, tonight I will be staying out in that wilderness, wild camping at a location on the map known as Ravock Castle. I do hope the spring marked there is still running..
Day 9: Ravock Castle – Cronkley Fell (13 miles)
From one wild camp to another. As today would be a Saturday, I would expect the campsite at Middleton to be very busy and I think I’d be best of avoiding it on this trip. Instead I would spend a couple of hours in Middleton, replenishing my supplies for the next leg of the Pennine Way, through the notorious and highest points on the trail. I would leave Middleton and hike up the scenic river before taking a short detour up Cronkley Fell. I’ve chosen this location as it appears to be well out of the way, allowing me to pitch a little earlier than normal. Analysing the maps I’ve found a few springs on the way up to the fell so I will be able to fill up my bottles here. The next day I will head back down the way I came. Partly due to there being no bridge on the other side of the fell to rejoin the Pennine Way, but also I’d like to re-fill water from the spring for the day ahead.
Day 10: Cronkley Fell to Dufton (15 miles)
Continuing up the riverside valleys before ascending to one of the Pennine Way’s highlights: High Cup Nick. It’s not somewhere I have been before so it should be quite the spectacle as long as its a clear day! I will then make my way down to the campsite at Dufton for a nice hot shower after a couple of nights wild camping.
Day 11: Dufton – Black Band (16 miles)
After a number of fairly short and pleasant days, this will be a long day potentially made much worse by the infamous weather present around Cross Fell. I originally planned to hike into Alston today but after reading a number of sources, I think I will camp on the last high before the descent to Garrigill at a point on the map called “Black Band”. Here there are a number of walls that I can hide behind and hopefully shelter from any wind.
Day 12: Black Band – Black Hill (18 miles)
A longer day but fairly straight forward. Today I will pass through Garrigill and onto Alston. I will then resupply for my next few days at Alston, as well as get some great food to cap of this long day. The reason for the long day is so I am set up with the future days schedule. As the most ideal wild camping spots are quite specific, I do like the idea of a schedule that makes them available to me.
Day 13: Holmhead – Andrew’s Mystery Sheepfold (16 miles)
This section is a great hike for history buffs. A real part of British history, Hadrians Wall. I’m quite looking forward to getting up close and personal with the wall, having only seen the mounds from a distance when riding on the motorbike. I would end this day quite short at a special location mentioned in Andrew Cannon’s blog, An Oldie Outdoors. The reason being, while planning the final days of the Pennine Way, I was unsure of where I could camp for the best spots. I don’t know the land very well in these ends so I am relying on the valuable information contained in such blogs. The sheepfold looked a great place to stay the night and would put me on an ideal schedule to follow Andrew’s south bound journey.
Day 14: Mystery Sheepfold – Padon Hill (17 miles)
A longer day but one that features a re-supply at Bellingham. Like usual, I will lounge in the town, re-stock and re-fill my bags with the finest food available before plodding on to Padon Hill, where a suitable wild camp location can be easily found. I do need to take note of water locations at the top end of the Pennine Way. From a quick look at the map, they are somewhat few and far between. However, I don’t mind diverting of the trail a few hundred meters to find a spring marked on the map, in fact, I do quite enjoy the quest.
Day 15: Padon Hill – Lamb Hill Hut (15 miles)
As I’ve mentioned prior, I don’t know these lands very well at all and I find myself without a great deal to say about them. At this point I will most definately thinking about the finish and returning home. I plan to end this night on the grass outside the hut at Lamb Hill. Although I don’t intend on staying within it. Yet it will atleast provide some shelter should the weather be poor.
Day 16: Lamb Hill – Kirk Yetholm (16 miles)
My final day and home awaits. I will try find time to steer my mind from thoughts of the finish to pause and reflect on the journey during these final miles. Looking back over my schedule I have totted up the mileage and it comes out at 253.5. Not bad at all, only a few miles out I think. Let’s just hope they are not all missing from one of the longer days!