Saturday, 17 May 2014
The Pennine Way is a tough hike! Make no mistake about that. Don't underestimate it! I've hiked the Coast to Coast, Offa's Dyke, The Two Moors Way, both North and South a downs Ways, the London Loop and much of the Greensand Way and trust me, the Pennine Way is much harder than any of them. It is very remote, shuns towns and villages and is at times very poorly signposted. You will be going through some very rough, high country where there may be no visible path, no signposts, and if the weather is bad, no visibility beyond a few metres. While parts of the route are paved, it seems at times impossible that you are actually on a National Trail because the path is so invisible and messy! Put a foot in the wrong place and you can slip off a cliff or into a potentially quite deep wet bog! You need to prepare, get fit, be competent with map and compas and know how to cope with all weathers and terrains. Though people do, I personally wouldn't consider doing it in the winter.
I did the trip alone, but I wouldn't do that again. You have to travel through some regions that are very remote and should anything happen to you, you have no way to raise an alarm. If you slip into a bog, you will have nobody to help pull you out. Most of all, the isolation of the entire route can play on your mind. You need a strong conviction that you want and are able to do this hike on your own or you will cave in when you are faced for example with the vista of miles and miles of bleak, windswept, rainy, boggy moors and you have to somehow thread your way through.
It's a great hike, but it is lonely. I've never encountered any other trail that day on day excluded me from the real world to such a extent. For that I have a new respect and love/hate for Yorkshire! I am grateful to all the friends who stayed in touch by email or WhatsApp while I was hiking. You lot kept me sane! It would have been much harder without you so thanks! Also thanks to all the people and organisations that sponsored me to do the trip. I didn't see a penny of the money myself by the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme did and some young people will benefit as a result. Also nobody wants to look like a failure so your sponsorship interest also helped to keep me going during tougher times!
So if you must go, ask yourself if you really are committed? If you are in doubt, wait until you are more certain. The trip will test your resolve! Then get the right kit and know how to use it! Don't scrimp! You will get a soaking more than once and you need to stay warm and dry. From comfortable waterproof boots to durable outer shell. Screw up and you will be in trouble. Make sure you have a map and compas and know how to use them. It's no good just having them and trying to figure it out when your nice GPS enabled iPhone is in the middle of the river!
If you are certain you want to go and you have all the skills, strength and kit, then I wish you a great hike. It's a trip of a lifetime. Enjoy!