The story of the modern ‘A Pennine Journey’
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.