hiking in the cheviots

Our Thoughts On Hiking The Pennine Way

Now that we’re back, some of you may want to know our thoughts on hiking the Pennine Way.

For those of you who didn’t watch our videos, we just hiked the Pennine Way, approximately 267 miles from Edale to Kirk Yetholm. And if this is your first time to WayPair, here is our long term plan.

Now, back in Texas we have had some time to reflect on the hike and our journey up to this point. Also, we may or may not have watched our own videos multiple times since then. It feels really strange to be on this side of things, but I can tell you now I’m glad we did it.

Our original plan was to hike 804 miles from Edale to Cape Wrath. Sorry to all you viewers who were waiting on those videos. And while we didn’t do the entire 800+ mile trek, we do have a couple more videos coming your way shortly.

So, what did we think of the Pennine Way?

pennine way
Last Pennine Way sign 4 1/2 miles from Kirk Yetholm.

As to be expected, there were some twists and turns, literally and figuratively. Looking back, I can see the good and bad we experienced while on trail. For those of you interested in the hike, it may only be fair to share the not so fun aspects of hiking the Pennine Way.

Hiking the Pennine Way

Day 1

The first day, our goal was to hike a whopping 16 miles, since that’s how the guide had our path mapped. Unfortunately, we got a super late start and hit some really bad weather shortly after our first big climb. This would not have been a big deal, but the winds exceeded 30 miles an hour and neither one of us has walked, let alone with 30 pound packs, in that kind of wind before. It was scary.

The worst part is when the rain came. We had a good 2-3 mile stretch of slabs over the boggy areas (thank you slab placers) but the rain soon flooded the slabs and we were soon soaked from head to toe. And that water was cold.

We reached a road where we looked to our guide for a second opinion. There was no way we could walk another 10 ish miles in that kind of weather. Luckily, there was an inn 2 1/2 miles off trail.

That was it. That was our only chance at respite from the storm.

Wet, cold, and famished, we made the 2 1/2 mile trek to Snake Pass Inn.

Relieved beyond compare, they had a room. Though I casually told the receptionist if they didn’t we would’ve gladly camped next door, given we could use their facilities. We were so happy to be inside with the chance to get warm.

That was day one. And I would like to say that the rest of the trip was wonderful and we saw some beautiful sights, which we did, but it proved to be more difficult than either of us anticipated.

kinder scout
The last smile of the day.

Healing From Blisters

Along with the cold and rainy weather came the blisters. We thought one day of hiking in wet socks wouldn’t hurt… we were wrong.

We spent two days at Snake Pass Inn to recoup, only to take off another two days in Hebden Bridge so our feet could have time to heal.

I have never seen so many layers of skin in my life. And boy… were our feet sore. We were lucky to stay with an active couple who recommended Sudocrem. Normally used for baby rash, Sudocrem does exceptionally well on blistered up feet and blemishes.

Getting Hiker Legs

I was told my hiker legs would come in much faster than I thought they would.

It was about two weeks before my legs felt ready for any uphill movement. I knew something was different when I preferred to go uphill than downhill.

With overuse, however, my knee started giving me problems. At first, we wrapped it and each day I took an Ibuprofen with breakfast just to get it to calm down. Unfortunately, the pain continued and we had to buy a brace. Jeremy eventually had me taking one 800 mg Ibuprofen at breakfast and before bed. With the vitamin I and the brace, I was feeling much better.

Pen-y-ghent

Pen-y-ghent is said to be one of the toughest climbs on the Pennine Way. We thought that was so because of the sheer uphill nature of Pen-y-ghent and a small scramble toward the top, but we soon learned it’s because of the wind.

Oh, the wind.

There is a long stone barrier between the trail up the hill and the drop off on the other side, but the wind was relentless. Though the trek is a bit scrappy and hands on, the packs were easily knocked by the wind and, therefore, so were we. Once we were about 3/4 of the way up, slabs appeared and guided us to the tip top. We couldn’t stay long because the wind was really strong, but we were able to rest on a stone structure for a bit.

The descent is said to be as difficult or more difficult than the ascent, but they have recently placed slab steps, which made the descent fairly easy. It’s the cobbled path into Horton-in-Ribblesdale that did us in.

pen-y-ghent
Pen-y-ghent in the background.

Little Dun Fell

There weren’t many days on trail that were all uphill, but this was one of them.

We were far enough into the hike to not be too bothered, but I was always slightly anxious on days like these.

When you are at a high elevation (high for the UK) the weather is even more unpredictable. Sure enough, when we had crossed our first two fells, the wind started picking up.

At first, we were ok. Our packs were covered and we had our rain shells and gloves on, but then it started picking up and the terror from day one set in. We weren’t even up our 3rd climb out of four for the day.

Wind and visibility was so bad that we started talking about making our way down the fell and around the last fell just to be safe. As soon as we started to get up, we ran into a father and son.

“Hello!” Jeremy and the man say, yelling at one another to hear.

“How is it from where you’ve come?” Jeremy asks.

“This is the worst it’s been.” The man says.

“Oh, great, thanks!”

“You have a bit of a descent than an ascent up Cross Fell but the wind wasn’t bad when we were up.”

More relieved and with the idea of following through to Cross Fell, we began our descent.

The man was right. For some reason, the wind was much calmer up the bigger climb. Go figure.

After a good rest and some expert level compass reading skills (thanks, Jeremy), we made it down Cross Fell. Really wet and tired, but relieved to be ok.

Positive Take Aways

Climbing In The Cheviots

The last couple days of the Pennine Way are outside the Pennine range and into the Cheviots.

This is what we’d been waiting for. Remote land with actual mountains (well, really really big hills). And absolutely gorgeous views in all directions. Out there, the land felt like it was rolling ever so slowly. It was truly something to experience.

Cooking in the cheviots
Jeremy cooking at the refuge hut. Yay cheap packaged food!
The cheviots
Man, oh man.
hiking in the cheviots
One of the better pics of me while on trail.

While there were a couple giant climbs in this part of the hike, we hit really really good weather. Plus, if you can hack it, about five miles before and six miles after Windy Gyle, there are two refuge huts to stay in. We hiked about 19 miles in one day to get to the 2nd one. It was totally worth it.

refuge hut in the cheviots
Refuge hut near Auchope Cairn.

Making It To Kirk Yetholm

The perk of walking an extra six miles than originally planned in one day, means that you get to your destination faster than anticipated. That’s what happened our 2nd to last day. We hiked 19 miles so we only had to hike six the following day.

This was because we heard bad weather was coming, but since it turned out to be a beautiful day we had a leisurely six mile hike in the midst of the best landscape of the hike.

Free beer tastes even better when you’re already having a great day.

the border hotel
We made it to the Border Hotel: The official end of the Pennine Way.

All in all, I think we learned a lot. I definitely have a greater appreciation for Jeremy and how he puts up with me. I also learned that whatever you usually snack on at home, you should find on trail. If you don’t have snacks you enjoy eating, and eating often, the days feel much longer and you feel more hungry.

I digress. I have one recommendation for anyone wishing to hike the Pennine Way.

Stuart Greig’s Pennine Way guide was a total must for the hike. Detailed and fun to read, it helped us more than anything during the hike.


What are your thoughts? Have you seen the videos? What did you think?

And if you’ve done your own hiking, share with us what you learned along the way.

  • Lyle

    Great write-up, Mel! It’s great to look back on your journey with all the knowledge of the highs and lows you went through and be able to feel gratitude for it all.
    Also, really good pics.

    • Thanks, Lyle. I can’t thank you enough for keeping up with the blog. I can only read it so many times before I say “it’s good enough, post it.”

      And you’re right (and were right all along). Looking back on what we did, and what we went through while it was happening, has given me a lot more perspective than I could see at the time.

      Thanks for all the support, bro.