Cycling part of the path above Butterley in late summer bloom
For 270 miles The Pennine Way runs along the Pennine hills, sometimes described as the “backbone of England”, and it traverses through the northern Peak District in Derbyshire, running through Yorkshire and ends at Kirk Yetholm just inside the Scottish border.
The Pennine Way is a muse for poets, artists and writers, and an evocatively beautiful part of it runs through our neck of the woods, on our doorstep in the moors above Marsden on the Yorkshire border.
“As the clouds dance across the Pennine sky
And the wild birds wheel past the walker’s eye”
Living in the area for the past decade, we have witnessed many changing of the seasons – from dustings of snow to white-out snowdrifts; autumn bursts, dancing cotton grasses and vast blue summer skies. This journey was a cycle on the upper paths above Butterley and Wessenden in late summer heather bloom, towards the end of the day. Our cycle ended at twilight with the water and heather luminescent.
“The ‘Way’ spoke to my heart and soul, as it does to so many who walk along the backbone of England”
– Heather Procter
The original idea for the Pennine Way was first mooted by walker and journalist Tom Stephenson in a 1935 article for the Daily Herald. He famously titled the article ‘Wanted: A Long Green Trail’. Stephenson imagined the Way in that first article as ‘a faint line on the Ordnance Maps, which the feet of grateful pilgrims would, with the passing years, engrave on the face of the land’.
It was the Appalachian Way in the US that inspired Stephenson to campaign for an equivalent route in the UK.
According to author Bill Laws, Stephenson was motivated to campaign for wider access across the hills by a conversation he had with a gamekeeper on the summit of Whernside.
‘Dost tha’ know tha’ art trespassing?’ the keeper asked him.
‘Aye, what are you going to do about it, prosecute or shoot?’ said Stephenson.
‘Nay,’ replied the keeper. ‘It’s aw reet as long as tha knows’.