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Teenagers walk the Pennine Way
July 1965 - by Terry Holden

I first became aware of the opening of the Pennine Way whilst walking in Derbyshire on a school trip with friend Garry Cade, during the Easter holidays in 1965, and it was then that I suggested we took up the challenge. Upon returning to school we soon recruited Richard Elliot and John Anstee, who were also enthusiastic, so we then immediately set about researching and planning our adventure.

Preparations were made, maps, details of the route and books were sent for; rucksacks, boots and sleeping bags were prepared and a spare tent, poles etc. were made. We planned to camp out each night, and to cook on a gas cylinder powered oven, making our rucksacks weigh some 35lb each.

Thinking back at our clothing and equipment, it was pretty basic. 

Eventually everything was ready.

The timescale of our walk was controlled by being unable to leave until the last day of our GCE examinations on 30th June and then returning before Saturday 17th July, as John was off for 10 days more trekking in Luxemburg with the Senior Scouts. This suggested we would have to walk on average approximately 20 miles a day, for 13 long 10 hour days!

Oh the stamina of Youth! 


We were all pretty fit and active youngsters and took the challenge in our stride.


We travelled by coach to Newcastle, then hitch hiked to Kirk Yetholm, which in all took eight hours, including walking eight miles.


We found the most testing parts of the trek, on our navigational skills, were to be at both at the beginning and end of the walk.

At the start, because of there being very few way markings through the Cheviots, most of the way was plotted by compass and map over uneven terrain.

On the last day, by contrast Kinder Scout was covered in thick fog and required repeated short directed walks by compass so as to remain sighted and then regrouping.

Apart from the first two days, we experienced rain at some time during most days, and Manchester recorded that one inch of rain fell in 48hours on our last two days.  Then more seasonal weather of intense heat that made our walk from Gargrave to Earby quite a challenge with heavy packs.


Whilst we were prepared to cook all meals ourselves, we were opportunist in seeking whatever became available, be it Roadside Café, Fish & Chip van, or Mobile Food shop, however we always cooked our own breakfast. The local people also showed their generosity by offering us cups of tea, confirming Simon Armitage’s experiences mentioned in his book “Walking Home”.   

At mid-day of the 13th day we hit the Snake Pass and stopped for lunch in a scenic layby from where we could see for nearly 30yds!  Only ten miles to go now and as the rain had stopped and with a good path to follow we were all in high spirits.  After Mill Hill we turned towards Kinder Scout, which was covered in fog. By some excellent compass work by Garry we managed to safely endure the undulating peat, and then finally descending down a stream we navigated a peat bog. 

Suddenly below us lay Grinsbrooke River, we scrambled down the rock and had less than two miles to go.  Running, singing and joking we descended into Edale and crossed the fallen log which marks the end.

We had made it!  Including the Cross Fell, and beyond the Cheviots.  For thirteen days we had striven for this and now it was over.  What a feeling of pride swept through us! How far it now seemed from the early days of planning in the Library at school.

Covered with peat but happy, we left for the Edale Youth Hostel knowing we had accomplished that which we set out to do. 

This is our heritage!

This is the Pennine Way!

Despite the fact that our kit was saturated, we all felt that given the chance, we would like to do the trek again, but would prefer a month next time, to enable us more stops to explore the many places of interest, including the pubs.

We feel fortunate to have had this adventure at such a young age, as it helped us to build our self-confidence and emphasised the importance of teamwork. Unfortunately it is unlikely that this would be possible nowadays during term time, because of restrictions and the endless permissions required. Furthermore, risk assessments and the health and safety issues would probably also result in less fun, and freedom to be flexible. However with advances in communication, tracking devices and Emergency Services, coupled with improvements to the footpath itself, it can still be challenging, thoroughly enjoyed, and Blogged as things happen!

Without doubt the adventure engrained in me a lifelong love of wild open spaces, nature and wildlife experienced in all elements.

For sentimental reasons I now want to take part in the Jubilee on 24/04/2015 and am planning to walk on a level path at Malham Tarn. If then a Brass Band were to be playing the tune “Pennine Way” by Maurice Johnston nearby, it would bring back the memories of those ups and downs of not only the hills, but the weather, as epitomised in this delightful piece of music, and my joy would be complete, but I am praying for good weather first.

As for the future, I might explore the use of an electric buggy to visit other accessible areas on the PW itself; but perhaps alternatively the PW Bridleway may be more suitable.




Contributed by Terry Holden                                                                                              added April 2015

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