Walking the Pennine Way for Young Minds. Photo Credit
The Pennine Way, a sprawling 268 mile trail along the spine of Britain, stretching all the way from Edale in the Peak District up to Kirk Yetholm, just past the Scottish border.
While it’s not the longest path in the UK (that title goes to the South West Coast Path), it is certainly one of the toughest. Notorious peat bogs, unpredictable weather (this is the UK after all) and a climb of around 12,000 metres (40,000 feet) over the length of the walk make it quite a challenge to say the least.
This is the challenge that we’re going to take on in August 2016 in order to raise money for Young Minds. To make it even harder we’ll be carrying all of our equipment, food and supplies with us on our backs. That means no fancy hotel rooms or shuttle services carrying our packs for us. We’ll be as self sufficient as possible and of course walking the route in one go.
I should point out at this stage that neither of us are long distance walkers. With Dartmoor National Park on our doorstep we spend a lot of time hill walking but generally no more than an overnight trip. Most of our longer journeys have included a different means of propulsion like a canoe or dog sled team.
As such we don’t yet know exactly what we’ve let ourselves in for. We’re both physically pretty fit and will aim to be even more so before August. That’s going to mean more time up on the moors with a pack on our backs. I’ll share updates as we prepare ourselves for the walk along with the equipment and clothing we plan to take.
At the moment not much planning has gone into it other than we know roughly when we’ll be walking it. Between now and August I’ll be researching the route and getting a better idea of how each day is likely to shape up, as well as the logistics of getting to and from the start and finish. Any advice from anyone who’s walked the Pennine Way or a similar trail is more than welcome.
How long will it take?
It takes people on average, around 17 days to walk the whole length of the trail but that includes some long days of over 20 miles. We’ll be trying to split the route down into manageable chunks and having our own shelter will give us some flexibility about where we can stay. Without camping, the final leg features a 25 ½ mile slog from Byrness to Kirk Yetholm whereas we’ll aim to split this into two days.
We don’t have a plan yet of exactly how long we’ll take and I suspect we won’t know for sure until we start the trip. We’ll aim to complete it in 3 weeks so we’re not planning to beat any records. After all, if the aim is to be outdoors then rushing the experience seems a bit pointless.
So, why walk the Pennine Way?
We’re outdoors people and really don’t need much excuse to head out for an extended period of time. Our journeys often take us abroad to Europe or North America so we both agreed that it would be good to plan a trip closer to home, exploring the natural beauty that we’re fortunate to have in our own backyard.
High Cup – A glaciated valley and incredible natural feature along the Pennine Way. Photo Credit
Choosing to do a long journey on foot came about for a few reasons. Firstly there’s not many long distance canoeing routes in the UK, at least none that take you through any particularly wild areas which is my preference. Scotland holds all the keys here really and I plan on some more shorter canoe trips up there next year.
Secondly, I was inspired by reading about some incredible, long distance thru-hiking trails in North America. Most notably the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s something I want to do but seemed a bit of a leap from weekend trips on Dartmoor to waking over 2,600 miles through the American wilderness. The Pennine Way seemed a more sensible starting point to tackling a much longer route.
Most importantly, however, is by walking the Pennine Way we’ll be trying to raise as much money for Young Minds as possible.
Back in 2013 my nephew George tragically took his own life at the age of only 15 as a result of suffering from depression.
My nephew, George.
He was severely let down by medical staff who sent him home after putting him on a cocktail of medication which meant he should never have been released from medical care.
He didn’t want to die but instead be saved from himself. Tragically in a moment of weakness and confusion he saw this as the only way to escape the pain.
It was heartbreaking to me and my family to lose George so suddenly. He had his whole life ahead of him and was truly talented. We all miss him every day.
Unfortunately there are many others like George. 855,000 children in the UK suffer from mental health issues and 15,000 every year are hospitalised after harming themselves.
Young Minds say “There is still a huge stigma around mental health which means children and young people are not getting the support they need. Mental health problems can lead to young people being disruptive, difficult, withdrawn and disturbed and it’s vital they are supported and not just ignored or told off.”
All money raised from our walk will go to support young people like George to make sure that they get the support they need to deal with mental illness.
If you have any tips you’d like to share on walking the Pennine Way or longer walk in general then please share in the comments.
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