(Pennine Way North) Hadrian's Wall at Crag Lough
PENNINE WAY NORTH (SELF-GUIDED)   6 stages . 7 nights . North Pennines   Booking

Pennine Way North
Self-guided trekking holiday

+ Complete the tough, remote Northern PW stages
+ Enjoy the walking with your accommodation booked
+ See Hadrian's Wall, the Cheviot Hills and Kirk Yetholm

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.

The Pennine Way runs from Edale to Kirk Yetholm across England's backbone: the Pennines and the Cheviot Hills. This week-long trek completes the top third of the route, from Alston to Kirk Yetholm.

The walking is grand; sometimes bleak, but magnificent overall. After a rolling start, Hadrian's Wall is followed over some dramatic sections before it is left behind to strike off North to the Cheviots. Two classic Pennine Way stages of mixed valley, forest and moorland follow, ending in Bellingham and then Byrness. The Cheviot Hills form a last obstacle before Kirk Yetholm; our standard schedule tackles them over two days that make a fitting end to the walk.

There is a sense of occasion when finishing any PW stage, due to the path's status as the oldest, most famous and about the most challenging in the UK. Alston and Kirk Yetholm are very pleasant start and end points. Many variations are possible and we can also move your baggage between stops, as an extra, to reduce your load.

Your accommodation along the Pennine Way North is a good mix of friendly guesthouses and B&Bs, chosen for friendliness, handy locations and good standards.


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


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

Please ask 590
Singles 175
70 per dog
Singles 210
70 per dog
7 stages
(8 nights)

Please ask 650
Singles 200
80 per dog
Singles 240
80 per dog
Specialised schedules
5 stages
(6 nights)

Please ask 530
Singles 150
60 per dog
Singles 180
60 per dog
Baggage transfer
All stops
Baggage transfer


Here is our normal schedule of 6 stages:

Arrival day: Arrive in Alston
Your trip begins on arriving at your guesthouse in Alston, the town nestled in the North Pennines. The high street offers pubs and shops.
Guesthouse in Alston

Stage 1: Alston to Greenhead
Red3 grade, 28km with 560m ascent, 730m descent
Field paths and moorland crossings make up two distinct themes for this stage. Starting at Alston, the route threads a way through the valley to Slaggyford and Lambley. At Lambley the Way strikes off from the road to continue the Northward direction via Black Hill. The Hadrian's Wall area and the valley of the River South Tyne are both well seen today.
Inn in Greenhead

Stage 2: Greenhead to Once Brewed
Red3 grade, 12km with 480m ascent, 555m descent
A highlight of the Pennine Way, the walk over to Once Brewed coincides with the Hadrian's Wall path. The well preserved Wall is followed for most of the day, often right beside, and there is much up and down. Open moorland falls away North and South.
Inn at Once Brewed

Stage 3: Once Brewed to Bellingham
Red3 grade, 24km with 510m ascent, 690m descent
From Once Brewed to Rapishaw Gap, the Pennine Way concludes its route along Hadrian's Wall. From the Gap, the route strikes off North to begin the wild crossing to the Cheviot Hills. It is a stage of forest tracks, moorland paths and a few fields and lanes. This is a classic stage of cross-country walking. The small town of Bellingham is welcome in the North Pennines.
Guesthouse in Bellingham

Stage 4: Bellingham to Byrness
Red3 grade, 24.5km with 525m ascent, 425m descent
The crossing to Byrness is the last of these typical PW days, with more distinct sections. After three minor moorland crossings, the day finishes with a fairly long walk through Redesdale Forest to the valley in Byrness.
B&B in Byrness

Stage 5: Byrness to Windy Gyle
Red3 grade, 20km with 940m ascent, 530m descent
This first of two days on the Cheviot Hills is a big final challenge. From Byrness the PW climbs quickly to the ridge, then stays on it as far as Windy Gyle (the highest hill of the day) for the descent to Trows. Much of the walking is on good, solid grassy paths or sections of duckboards and stones. Enjoy this superb ridge walk, the boldest landscape yet met on the Pennine Way. (We organise a pick-up at Trows for a second night at Byrness.)
B&B in Byrness

Stage 6: Windy Gyle to Kirk Yetholm
Red3 grade, 21.5km with 640m ascent, 150m descent
After a lift back to Trows, climb back up Windy Gyle. This last stage of the Pennine Way completes the traverse of the Cheviot Hills. A detour to the highest point in this area, The Cheviot, is possible. The walking is generally excellent, being on a clear path often laid with stones or boards. The ridge gives a rollercoaster ride ending at The Schil, a famous Cheviots hill. Finally, to roll into Kirk Yetholm is to enter a pastoral scene in contrast to the preceding mountain miles. The hills are behind you!
Hotel in Kirk Yetholm

Departure day: Depart from Yirk Yetholm
After a last breakfast take the bus to Berwick-upon-Tweed, Carlisle or Edinburgh and join the rail network. Then Manchester, York or London are easily reached.

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.


We can adjust your Pennine Way North 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! The exception is the two-day crossing of the Cheviot ridge, the finale to the Pennine Way. This 6-stage trek about right for most mountain walkers. We can add a night (7 stages) for those who would like to see more of Hadrian's Wall. Going shorter, we can start a trip at Hadrian's Wall to miss the difficult first stage from Alston, or for very fast walkers make the Cheviot crossing one day. Both of these options give 5 stages overall.

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 North
Your route follows the official Pennine Way. Set off from Alston at the start of your holiday, reaching Hadrian's Wall at Greenhead after an arduous first day. The Wall is a superb feature to follow and makes for an entertaining and shorter second stage to Once Brewed. The links to Bellingham and then Byrness make two days of classic PW trekking. The Cheviot Hills form the final obstacle before Kirk Yetholm. Our normal schedule tackles this long, twisting ridge over two tough days; we can combine them into one extremely long day, but this would suit only the strongest walkers. Kirk Yetholm is an enchanting spot to end the quest, being homely and charming, and sited most definitely to the North of any hills. It sits just inside Scotland.

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. 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 Alston and ends in Kirk Yetholm. The small town of Alston is a bus ride from Penrith; Kirk Yetholm is linked to a good bus network to Berwick-upon-Tweed and Carlisle. These larger towns are on the North-South train routes. If flying, we suggest Manchester for the start and Edinburgh or Manchester for the 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

"The info pack was packed full of useful and helpful information.

"We had a really enjoyable holiday. Everyone we met was very friendly, the scenery was breathtaking and we even got an unexpected suntan! It all ran very smoothly through your company's arrangements and attention to detail. I was never anxious about the nuts and bolts of the holiday just getting the miles covered!"

Amanda Maister
(Pennine Way North)

Key information Summer 2020

Trip name: Pennine Way North
Guided or self-guided? Self-guided
Trip code: PWNsg
Route: The Pennine Way (Walking guide)
(Prefer South, Central or the full PW?)
Group size: Any, from solo trekkers to groups
Length: 6 days' trekking
Start: Alston in the North Pennines
End: Kirk Yetholm in the Borders
Typical walk: 21km, 620m ascent
Total distance: 126.5km or 79 miles
Highest altitude: 743m
Grade: Red3 (Walking grades)

Prices Summer 2020

6 stages, per person:

PWNsg Classic
GBP 590 (singles 175, dog 70)
Pennine Way North (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

The huge but tidy cairn on Padon Hill
Padon Hill (Photo gallery)

Alpine Exploratory's service

7 nights, staying in:
B&Bs, guesthouses and inns (7)

Accommodation and itinerary
Expert and unlimited advice
Routecards PEW14-19 of the Exploratory system
Maps and local information

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

The view back from The Schill to the higher Cheviot Hills
The Cheviot Hills (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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Alpine Exploratory
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