(Pennine Way Central) High Cup Nick
PENNINE WAY CENTRAL (SELF-GUIDED)   7 stages . 8 nights . Yorkshire Dales   Booking

Pennine Way Central
Self-guided trekking holiday

+ The most spectacular Pennine Way sights in one week
+ Simple planning removes the hassle
+ Good advice on routes, sights and itineraries

Latest news November 2019
Our 2020 dates and prices are up! Availability is great at this early point. Please ask us about a trip - thank you.

Walk for 7 days over the most exhilarating stages of the Pennine Way. From Malham in the Yorkshire Dales to Alston in the North Pennines, cover 170km (106 miles) of bold scenery on an independent walking holiday.

The Pennine Way crosses wild moors, high hills and ancient fields. Set off from Malham at the start of your trek, quickly reaching Malham Cove and later on Malham Tarn. An ascent of Pen-y-ghent, one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, sets the scene for the grandeur of the walk. Progress North through Hawes and Keld, leaving the limestone Dales behind for the North Pennines. Highlights of the route include the isolated Tan Hill Inn, the waterfall at High Force, the vast glacial ampitheatre of High Cup Nick, and the highest point in the Pennines on Cross Fell.

At the end of each day is the satisfaction of having walked a full Pennine Way stage. The route's reputation as boggy is undeserved nowadays, thanks to many path improvements. This trip follows the official route, missing nothing out. By completing this Central section, the Southern and Northern sections can be walked in roughly 6 days each to complete the route between Edale and Kirk Yetholm.

Your accommodation along the Pennine Way is in a mixture of welcoming guesthouses and old inns. Some of the stopovers are quintessentially Pennine and with luck will leave a lasting impression of tranquility.


Map showing the route of Alpine Exploratory's Pennine Way Central Self-Guided walking holiday


Alpine Exploratory
PWCsg Pennine Way Central (Self-guided)
3 May to 18 September 2020
Prices in GBP
per person
Hutty Classic Comfy
Popular schedules
7 stages
(8 nights)

Please ask 640
Singles 200
80 per dog
Singles 240
80 per dog
8 stages
(9 nights)

Please ask 700
Singles 225
90 per dog
Singles 270
90 per dog
Baggage transfer
All stops
Baggage transfer


Here is our normal schedule of 7 stages:

Arrival day: Arrive in Malham
Your trip begins on arriving at your guesthouse in Malham, a charming village which marks the start of the Yorkshire Dales. The main attraction is the surrounding limestone scenery such as Gordale Scar.
Gueshouse in Malham

Stage 1: Malham to Horton-in-Ribblesdale
Red3 grade, 25km with 820m ascent, 780m descent
Start with a magnificent stage containing notable Pennine Way features. The limestone cliffs of Malham Cove give way to some intriguing walking before Malham Tarn is reached. Two obstacles then present themselves before Horton: Fountains Fell and Pen-y-ghent. These two hills make for a challenging but rewarding second half of the walk.
B&B in Horton-in-Ribblesdale

Stage 2: Horton-in-Ribblesdale to Hawes
Red3 grade, 24km with 435m ascent, 435m descent
This is one of the classic stages and a bold day out across grand Pennine terrain. The village of Horton and the town of Hawes make natural staging posts at either end. The main event in the day is the gradual ascent of Dodd Fell by the long Roman road known as the Cam High Road. On the spine of the hill, views swap from upper Wharfedale to Widdale in the North. Hawes comes into view in its peaceful Wensleydale setting, one of the bigger Pennine settlements and a bustling market town.
Inn in Hawes

Stage 3: Hawes to Keld
Red3 grade, 21km with 670m ascent, 585m descent
This is a stage of two contrasting parts. The bulk of the day is spent crossing Great Shunner Fell, at 716m a high obstacle. The views are broad and often wild. After the descent enter the hamlet of Thwaite and begin a pastoral and beautiful section of the Way above Swaledale to Keld. The change in scenery maintains the interest throughout this stage. End the day at Keld, a tiny village on its own in a fold of hills, quiet and peaceful.
Guesthouse in Keld

Stage 4: Keld to Bowes
Red3 grade, 22km with 340m ascent, 375m descent
This stage links the head of Swaledale with the moors of County Durham. It begins with a crossing of Stonesdale Moor to the famous Tan Hill Inn, then crosses Bowes Moor to the valley at Sleightholme Fam and ends with an attractive ramble over fields and past farms into Bowes, a quiet village with an impressive ruined castle.
Inn in Bowes

Stage 5: Bowes to Middleton-in-Teesdale
Red3 grade, 20.5km with 460m ascent, 520m descent
Here is an enjoyable day among open and wild scenery. Two valleys break up the journey; Baldersdale and Lunedale, each holding reservoirs and being sprinkled with dispersed farms and houses. Late in the stage enjoy the panorama above Teesdale and the view down to Middleton-in-Teesdale.
B&B in Middleton-in-Teesdale

Stage 6: Middleton-in-Teesdale to Dufton
Red3 grade, 34.5km with 570m ascent, 600m descent
A long but spectacular stage running largely East to West instead of South to North. Three famous landmarks of the Way are encountered today: the waterfall at High Force on the Tees, the cascade of Cauldron Snout, and the vast and awesome high glaciated valley of High Cup Nick. After the spine of the Pennines, drop down into the quiet village of Dufton.
B&B in Dufton

Stage 7: Dufton to Alston
Red3 grade, 33km with 935m ascent, 825m descent
A long day crossing four summits, the stage is really four distinct parts: an ascent to the ridge, the crossing of four peaks, a long descent to Garrigill on a moorland track, and finally a ramble across fields to Alston. This is one of the two particularly high and bold Pennine Way stages, and exhilarating way to finish this portion of the route.
Guesthouse in Alston

Departure day: Depart from Alston
After a last breakfast in Alston, depart from the trip. Take the bus to Carlisle for trains on the West Coast line, or the bus to Newcastle for the East Coast line.

Our usual schedule of accommodation might not be available, especially if there is not much time between booking and your trip. We book accommodation as closely as possible to this itinerary and present a schedule for you to check before we proceed.

Baggage transfer

Our baggage service on the Pennine Way takes your bag to each night's accommodation. Each morning simply leave your bag with your host or at reception. Please ask us for our prices which depend on the numbers in your group.


We can adjust your Pennine Way Central in various ways, as follows:

Fewer long days
The Pennine topography lends itself to days of 25km, give or take, and makes it curiously difficult to walk longer days... unless you go very much faster! This 7-stage trek is hard enough for most groups, including as it does the long day to Dufton (35.5km) and Alston (33km). We can split these stages, albeit unevenly, and this results in our 9-stage trek.

Different accommodation
At some stops we can book smarter hotels, or alternatively dormitory/hostel accommodation. A typical Pennines village has limited places to stay but larger ones have a mix like this. It is no longer possible to complete the Pennine Way staying only in YHA youth hostels but these plus private bunkhouses can form part of your trip.

The route

Our approach to the Pennine Way Central
Your route follows the official Pennine Way. Set off from Malham at the start of your holiday, quickly reaching Malham Cove and later on Malham Tarn. An ascent of Pen-y-ghent, one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, on the first day really sets the scene for the grandeur of this trip. As you progress Northwards through Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Hawes and Keld, enjoy the limestone Dales are reach the North Pennines. Cross moors to beautiful Teesdale then cross the spine of the Pennines to Dufton. Your final stage ascends Cross Fell, the highest point in England outside the Lake District. Arrive in Alston, England´┐Żs highest market town. Highlights of the route include the remote Tan Hill Inn, the waterfall High Force on the River Tees, and Cross Fell.

The Pennine Way's gradients are for the most part gentle in comparison to much UK mountain walking; this follows the route's nature as a series of moorland crossings. Certain parts of the route involve steep ground, in particular the ascents of Pen-y-ghent and Cross Fell. Underfoot the route is reasonably solid, on dusty or potentially muddy paths and across fields but rarely - except in the Northern stages - on very muddy open moorland.

How to get there

Your holiday starts in Malham and ends in Alston. Both of these villages mean a bus from the nearest stations but once on the train network it is easy to reach Manchester and anywhere else in the UK. If flying, we suggest Manchester for both start and end.

Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price. We take care to give the most useful notes possible about all the travel options. We supply these both on booking and in your info pack, and we offer personalised tips at any point. The aim is that our trekkers arrange their travel by the simplest and most scenic means as suits their plan.

Happy clients

"Fantastic place, the dinner (and breakfast) was amazing, everyone should stay here!"

"Very friendly, informative email at the outset... responded quickly and helpfully to all our emails. Everything worked smoothly throughout the trip - baggage, accommodation etc. Many thanks!"

Fiona, UK
(Pennine Way Central)

Key information Summer 2020

Trip name: Pennine Way Central
Guided or self-guided? Self-guided
Trip code: PWCsg
Route: The Pennine Way (Walking guide)
(Prefer South, North or the full PW?)
Group size: Any, from solo trekkers to groups
Length: 7 days' trekking
Start: Malham in the Yorkshire Dales
End: Alston in the North Pennines
Typical walk: 25km, 600m ascent
Total distance: 185km or 115 miles
Highest altitude: 893m
Grade: Red3 (Walking grades)

Prices Summer 2020

7 stages, per person:

PWCsg Classic
GBP 640 (singles 200, dog 80)
Pennine Way Central (self-guided)

Research Summer 2020

Rob Gale at Alpine ExploratoryAlpine Exploratory's 2019 research on the Pennine Way was led by:
Rob Gale in March

Recces 2020

Walkers by a gate on the Pennine Way
A typical gate (Photo gallery)

Alpine Exploratory's service

8 nights, staying in:
B&Bs, guesthouses and inns (8)

Accommodation and itinerary
Expert and unlimited advice
Routecards PEW7-13 of the Exploratory system
Maps and local information

Season for self-guided treks
3 May to 18 September 2020
Trek on your ideal dates

Grassholme Reservoir in Lunedale between Bowes and Middleton-in-Teesdale on the Pennine Way
In Lunedale (Photo gallery)

Find out more

About our walking holidays Our FAQs page covering equipment, weather, insurance and more about how our trips work

Walking guides Our background page on the
    Pennine Way

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