The story of the mod­ern ‘A Pen­nine Jour­ney’

Walking New Zealand - - Overseas Walk -

re­tire­ment was cel­e­brated by walk­ing the South Downs Way from East­bourne to Winch­ester Cathe­dral from where we set out on a mix­ture of the North Downs Way and the Pil­grims Way to Can­ter­bury Cathe­dral.

How­ever in 1986 we had learned of the pub­li­ca­tion of ‘A Pen­nine Jour­ney - The Story of a Long Walk in 1938’ which had arisen when, whilst work­ing with AW in early spring of 1984 on ‘Wain­wright on the Pen­nine Way’ book, his ed­i­tor Jenny Dere­ham was told about it by AW. She re­counted the oc­ca­sion in the Wain­wright So­ci­ety’s ‘Foot­steps’ mag­a­zine re­cently when he talked about his walk ”for some fif­teen min­utes” and on be­ing given a “tatty brown en­ve­lope” con­tain­ing the man­u­script Jenny was en­joined “I won’t want it changed, mind,

even if it does seem dated”.

Af­ter I re­tired, whilst Heather and I were de­bat­ing what was to be our next walk, I re­mem­bered the fol­low­ing ex­tract from the in­tro­duc­tion to AW’s Coast to Coast Walk guide ad­vis­ing walk­ers to “. . . .de­vise with the aid of maps their own cross-coun­try marathons”.

AW’s ‘ A Pen­nine Jour­ney’ came to mind, so we re-read it and started to plan that win­ter, but did not com­plete un­til 1998 fol­low­ing a move to the Lake Dis­trict in 1993, our “own cross-coun­try marathon”. It is unashamedly based on AW’s ‘ A Pen­nine Jour­ney’ and uses as many of the places AW men­tioned in his book as pos­si­ble, us­ing pub­lic foot­paths and not the roads that he used in 1938 - a route that AW might have cho­sen if he was plan­ning it to­day.

Then, coun­try roads held lit­tle dan­ger – 60 years (and now 80 years) later it is a dif­fer­ent ket­tle of fish! The walk takes in sec­tions of other paths such as the Pen­nine Way, Rib­ble Way, Dales Way, and the Hadrian’s Wall Walk as well as AW’s ‘Walks in Lime­stone Coun­try.’

At Keld on its way north and at Kirkby Stephen on its way south it crosses the route of AW’s Coast to Coast Walk. So the mod­ern ‘A Pen­nine Jour­ney’ (which we called the Set­tle to Set­tle Walk) was born: com­pleted, co­in­ci­den­tally, on the 60th an­niver­sary of AW set­ting out on his ‘A Pen­nine Jour­ney’.

How­ever the next chap­ter in the story had to wait un­til the found­ing of the Wain­wright So­ci­ety. At its first AGM of the newly formed Wain­wright So­ci­ety in 2004 I sug­gested that our 1998 walk could be a par­tic­i­pa­tory ven­ture for mem­bers of the So­ci­ety. The com­mit­tee agreed and we re­vised our orig­i­nal route into 18 daily stages with mem­bers walk­ing and test walk­ing each stage and pro­vid­ing route de­scrip­tions.

The orig­i­nal project was en­hanced

when Colin By­wa­ter of­fered to pro­vide black and white sketches and Ron Sc­holes (who had been a friend of AW) of­fered to draw de­tailed route maps at 2½ inches to the mile such as th­ese of AW’s pri­mary ob­jec­tive – Hadrian’s Wall.

The vary­ing route de­scrip­tions were edited into a com­mon for­mat, then merged with the il­lus­tra­tions and route maps into what the pub­lish­ers Frances Lin­coln de­scribed as a ‘pic­to­rial guide’ – an ac­co­lade that de­lighted Heather and I as this de­scrip­tion had hith­erto only been used for AW’s guides!

Over 40 mem­bers and friends were present at Set­tle sta­tion for its launch on a per­fect day for walk­ing in April 2010.

To make this a tan­gi­ble trib­ute to AW a website was es­tab­lished with, im­por­tantly, an ac­com­mo­da­tion reg­is­ter so that walk­ers could plan their own ‘jour­ney’ and Bri­g­antes Walk­ing Hol­i­days set up a bag­gage courier ser­vice.

The Pen­nine Jour­ney Sup­port­ers Club was es­tab­lished and the en­dorse­ment of all the high­way agen­cies along the route was ob­tained. Funds raised from guide book sales en­abled the en­tire route to be way­marked by the 75th an­niver­sary of AW’s 1938 walk.

The next step was to get the route onto Ord­nance Sur­vey maps espe­cially given AW’s love of the work of the Ord­nance Sur­vey – “I ad­mire their work im­mensely, be­ing lost in ad­mi­ra­tion of all their work.” By Fe­bru­ary 2016 the route was on all rel­e­vant Ex­plorer and Lan­dranger maps and to a large de­gree this trib­ute to Al­fred Wain­wright could be said to be com­plete.

AW’s care­ful plan­ning nearly 80 years ago means that it tra­verses some of the most de­light­ful walk­ing ter­rain in north­ern Eng­land: savour de­light­ful river val­leys, high fells and wide ex­panses of moor­land; be fas­ci­nated by the his­toric places on its route, with the World Her­itage Site of Hadrian’s Wall pre-em­i­nent; and en­joy the hos­pi­tal­ity of the towns and vil­lages along the route

The lat­est tes­ti­mo­nial came from a young lady who walked the route last year with her grand­par­ents and raised over £4000 in spon­sor­ship for an out­door class­room for street chil­dren in Kenya. “The walk cov­ered a wide range of dif­fer­ent ter­rain and scenery and ev­ery day was amaz­ing………. I would rec­om­mend the walk to any­one who wants to see, in a com­par­a­tively short space of time, a large part of the mag­nif­i­cent range of scenery that north­ern Eng­land has to of­fer. It re­ally is a beau­ti­ful walk…….”

“Big­ger than the Coast to Coast,

more beau­ti­ful than the Pen­nine Way: dis­cover the in­cred­i­ble trail that’s Wain

wright’s great­est gift to walk­ers” was a re­cent claim by the Coun­try Walk­ing mag­a­zine af­ter they had dis­cov­ered it – but is it true? The only way would be for you to come (or re­turn) to Eng­land and try it!

Above: The Eden Mil­le­nium Bench­mark ‘Wa­ter Cut’ be­low Maller­stang Edge in the Eden Valley. Mid­dle right: AW’s sketch from the book of his route. Be­low left: High Force on the River Tees.

Above: Set­tle sta­tion - the be­gin­ning/ end of the walk. Mid­dle right: The first edi­tion (1986) of his nar­ra­tive. Be­low left: Hor­ton Church - con­sid­ered amongst the ear­li­est, if not the first, of AW’s land­scape sketches. Be­low right: Colin By­wa­ter’ sketch of Cuddy’s Crags on Hadrian’s Wall.

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