Your trip begins on arriving at your guesthouse in Alston, a market town nestled in the North Pennines. Explore the villages' pubs, cafes and shops or take a ride on the historic South Tynedale Railway.
Guesthouse in Alston (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 27.8km with 575m ascent, 750m 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 (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 12.3km with 440m ascent, 345m 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 (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 24.6km with 510m ascent, 615m 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 (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 23.8km with 530m 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 (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 20.6km with 760m ascent, 360m 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 (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 20.1km with 620m ascent, 1120m 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 (breakfast)
After a last breakfast take the bus to Kelso (pictured above), Berwick-upon-Tweed, Carlisle or Edinburgh and join the rail network. Then Manchester, York or London are easily reached. Congratulations on the Pennine Way!
Make the trip shorter
The best way to shorten the trip is to either start at Hadrian's Wall, missing the difficult first stage from Alston, or combine stages 2 and 3 to give a long stage to Bellingham of 36.9km with 950m ascent and 960m descent. For very fast walkers it's possible to make the Cheviot crossing of Stage 5 and 6 in one day. All these options give 5 stages overall. Please let us know if you’d like more details on this.
Make the trip longer
If you would like to make the Pennine Way North trip a little longer, the best option is to split the first long section into 2, albeit unevenly. On Stage 1 walk to Slaggyford and then take the bus back to your accommodation in Alston. The following morning, hop on the bus back to Slaggyford and continue the walk to Greenhead. This makes for quite a short first stage to Slaggyford, 9.5km with 150m ascent, so it could easily be done in the afternoon of your arrival day if you plan to get there early enough.
More rest days
For those who would like some more time to explore the local area, a few towns and villages along the route make excellent stops for rest days. The larger and better-connected towns include Alston, the small market town at the start of your trip, and Bellingham. Take a day trip to a town nearby – Penrith near the Lake District, Carlisle, Kelso or Jedburgh are great options - or explore the local sights such as the famous Hadrian’s Wall. Please ask us to advise on visiting Manchester and Edinburgh (Scotland) as the natural cities at start and end - the bus or train rides are very scenic too!
Hike with a guide
Hike with confidence in the company of our fully qualified International Mountain Leaders (IMLs), with the navigation, accommodation and all arrangements taken care of. You're welcome to walk on any date within our season and we can adjust the hike to suit your needs. If your group would like a guide for your trip, please get in touch for more details.
Pennine Way North
1 May to 15 Sept 2024
60 per dog
60 per dog
70 per dog
70 per dog
80 per dog
80 per dog
To all stops
Please ask us
|Please ask us|
Your accommodation along the Pennine Way North is a charming mix of small guesthouses and country hotels tucked away in the hills. We choose friendly hosts, handy locations and comfortable rooms, booking ensuite rooms where possible. Towards the end of the trip, you will stay 2 nights in Byrness as there are no accommodation options at Windy Gyle, but we will organise transport for you between the route and your B&B.
For a touch of luxury at the end of the day, choose our comfy schedule and we will upgrade your accommodation. We sway our guesthouse in Bellingham for a smart hotel and we book the supieror room types where available along the rest of the route.
We don’t have a standard hutty itinerary, but please do get in touch if you are interested in staying in more basic accommodation during your trip, such as hostels and bunk houses for example in Once Brewed and Kirk Yetholm. We will be happy to assist
Single Room Supplement
If you would like to stay in single rooms rather than sharing a double, twin or triple room we add our single room supplement. This covers the additional cost of booking single occupancy rooms on a per person basis.
We do not take bookings for solo walkers on self-guided trips. If you are still interested in this trip, we do have availability on our guided trips.
Bring your dog
In common with most of our UK trips, we're delighted that you can walk with your dog! We’ll follow our normal schedule with a few adjustments to get to dog-friendly accommodation
Our route follows the Northern Section of the official Pennine Way. Set off from Alston at the start of your holiday, reaching Hadrian's Wall at Greenhead after a long 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 long-distance trekking. The Cheviot Hills form the final obstacle before Kirk Yetholm. Our normal schedule tackles this long, twisting ridge over two tough days, but we can combine them into one extremely long day if you are looking for a challenge. Finally walk over the border to Scotland and find Kirk Yetholm, an enchanting little village at the end your journey!
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, though boggy open moorland is more common during the first half of the trip, particularly from Alston to the start of the Cheviots.
Is it for me?
The Pennine Way is our longest hike in the UK, but by taking on just the Northern section, we can offer a manageable week long holiday that still gives you the flavour of the full route. Although the stage lengths are generally longer compared to our other UK holidays, the raw figures of daily distance and ascent can in many cases mislead; the miles pass quickly on the sections of walled track or of smooth open moor. Nevertheless, it will greatly help your enjoyment of the holiday to arrive fit at the start, used to walking days of roughly 5h and 8h 30m along a long-distance trail.
The Pennine Way is generally easy to follow with wooden sign posts and the acorn symbol denoting a National Trail. The Northern sections over higher ground are not always so obvious and when the clouds descend a map, compass and knowledge to use them are essential.
Once you’ve completed the Pennine Way North, you can always come back to complete the full route. Have a look at our Pennine Way South trip from Edale to Malham and our Pennine Way Central holiday from Malham to Alston.
The emphasis of the Pennine Way is on distance rather than rockiness or technical difficulty. Compared to our other UK walks the Pennine Way spends more time on high, wild ground, and is overall a little tougher. Ascents and descents are generally gradual, and they shouldn’t be a problem for regular walkers and add interest to their respective stages.
For an even more detailed read, please see our Pennine Way Walking Guide
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.
- Bespoke accommodation itinerary - tailored to suit your particular requirements
- Breakfast every morning
- Detailed Routecards PEW1-19 of the Exploratory system, printed on waterproof paper
- The 1 topographical map needed
- Expert advice and local information
- A comprehensive 'Season Update' following our pre-season recce
- Full support during your trip from the Alpine Exploratory team (8am until 8pm UK time)
- Travel to and from your trip
- Local transport whilst on the trip unless specified
- Travel insurance
- Lunches, snacks, drinks and evening meals
- Baggage transfers (available as an extra)
Baggage transferOur baggage option on the Pennine Way North takes your bag to each night's accommodation. In the morning, simply leave your bag with your host or at reception and we will make sure that it will be waiting for you at your next stop.
If you prefer, please feel welcome to email or call us. Thanks!
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Monday to Friday
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Open to the world
Since Alpine Exploratory started in 2005 we have loved getting to know our clients from around the world. Along with the UK, our best-represented countries are the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Please use our national-rate numbers for a cheaper call to contact our office in Edinburgh.
Alpine Exploratory is a system of knowledge on the best mountain trekking in our areas, giving clients superb holidays based on this exploration.