Under Open Skies...

Heart of the Pennine Way REVIEWS

Walk - magazine of the Ramblers, 30 November 2015

REVIEW: Heart of the Pennine Way

Price: £9.99.  Author: Tony and Chris Grogan

Publisher: Skyware.  ISBN number: 978 0955998799

If you’re unwilling or unable to devote three weeks to walking the entire Pennine Way then this ‘mid Pennine Way’ option is for you. The book covers the 165-mile stretch between Hebden Bridge and Hadrian’s Wall which features many of the highlights of this superlative National Trail – Malham Cove and Pen-y-ghent, Upper Teesdale and High Cup, Cross Fell and Hadrian’s Wall. Gone are the more arduous stages through the Peak District and Cheviot Hills and instead you have a two-week walk through arguably the best the Pennines can offer. With maps, route text and photos, this is a novel and welcome addition to Pennine Way literature.

Andrew McCloy

See The Ramblers website here.

West Riding Rambler, July 2015


By Tony and Chris Grogan

It will be best to quote from the introduction first. Tony and Chris comment: “For some 50 years hardy hikers have been undertaking the gruelling challenge of the Pennine Way, walking from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholme on the Scottish Borders. Each year an estimated 2000 or so complete the journey; others abandon the challenge at an early stage. For many walkers these days, the prospect of a three-week, 268-mile trek along the high Pennine moors and mountains is just too daunting. Nowadays there are many other long-distance trails vying for attention, almost all a good deal easier.” What Tony and Chris came up with was an “abridged version”, a fortnight’s walk from Hebden Bridge to Housesteads along the “very heart” (hence the title of the book) of the Pennine Way.

Whether I was walking the whole of the 268 miles, or just the 165-mile “heart” that Tony and Chris describe, I would take this book with me. As always in books by Tony and Chris, the maps are particularly good and easy to use, and they are full of helpful arrowed comments about places of possible difficulty, such as “Cross beck and climb right… Cross boggy patch to join fence on right”. Beside the maps is a written commentary pointing out many features of interest encountered en route. There are lots of attractive photos including a stunning one of High Cup Nick. Another enjoyable feature is “a brief history of the Pennine Way”. The book is light in weight and easy to put in a jacket pocket, a further recommendation. The maps cover the whole route, not just the “heart” of the way, another bonus. And most important of all, the Pennine Way is a brilliant long distance upland walk, and if this book encourages more people to walk it (as I’m sure it will), and to enjoy the Pennines, then the book’s done a valuable job. As an aside, I know the ends had to be omitted in a walk along the “heart”, but I’ve a soft spot for the southern section, and its “glutinous bogs” are just part of the challenge.

Keith Wadd

See the West Riding Ramblers website here.

Yorkshire Dales Review – summer 2015

Book Review by Colin Speakman

The Heart of the Pennine Way

Skyware Press, at £9.99 (ISBN 978-0-9559987-9-9) www.skyware.co.uk or local bookshops.

50 years ago, in Spring 1965, I was part of a group of West Riding Ramblers on Malham Moor taking part in the opening ceremony, with the then Minister for Land and Natural Resources, Fred Willey. But the real star of the show Yorkshire Dales Review - summer 2015was that remarkable visionary and outdoor campaigner Tom Stephenson, whose concept and passion the Pennine Way had been for over 30 years. Tom, who never lost the soft Lancashire burr of his home town Burnley, was one of the true founding fathers of the National Park movement in Britain, a hero of the fight for access to our hills and mountains. The 268 mile Pennine Way National Trail is his true and lasting memorial. A great lover of the Yorkshire Dales, Tom once told me that his favourite section of the Pennine Way was in Swaledale, recalling that magnificent view down the dale from Kisdon hill. He climbed Pen y Ghent on his 80th birthday and remained a keen fell walker until his nineties.

He would have warmly welcomed this timely and celebratory publication from the excellent Saltaire-based Skyware Press – Yorkshire Dales Society Business Members. Written, illustrated and published by Tony & Chris Grogan, the new guide highlights the central 165 mile section of the Pennine Way between the UK’s first Walkers are Welcome town of Hebden Bridge in Calderdale, and Housesteads Fort on Hadrian’s Wall, and Bardon Mill.

OK, the Pennine Way for softies perhaps, but arguably by cutting out some of the tough and for many people, tedious moorland boggy stretches over Bleaklow and Black Hill, and by dividing the Way into reasonably accessible day stages, (with the exception of Tan Hill, all served by public transport), many more people will be encouraged to tackle the route. Cleverly they make use of the new Hebden Bridge Loop developed by local walkers, as the original Pennine Way by-passed what was in the 1960s an industrial town, but is now a welcoming tourist centre. And for purists, the missing links from Edale and through the Cheviots to Kirk Yetholm are described and mapped in the appendix.

As always in Skyware guides, Tony Grogan’s detailed, beautifully drawn maps over an OS base are supported by clear and informative text by both authors, enriched with thumb nail photographs. The A5 size enables the book to fit into a rucksack pocket and be easy to handle even in rain (a transparent plastic bag will be an essential accessory), yet is large enough to read maps easily.

This guide will encourage and enable many more people to walk at least parts and perhaps the whole of the Pennine Way. Tom Stephenson, a generous man with a passion to encourage everyone to enjoy the open spaces and footpaths of his beloved Pennines, would have been truly delighted.

See the Yorkshire Dales Society here.

Pennine Way Association Newsletter, Sept 2015

Book Review by Chris Sainty

“Heart of the Pennine Way” by Tony & Chris Grogan (165 miles along the Mid Pennine Way from Hebden Bridge to Hadrian’s Wall) 82 Pages. Published by Skyware Ltd. £9.99. ISBN 978 0 9559987 9 9.

For a lot of walkers, the option of spending three weeks walking the Pennine Way (even in the Jubilee Year) is difficult. You could split it up into three one-week holidays but what about spending two weeks walking the central section?

Tony & Chris Grogan have linked a start at Hebden Bridge, taking in the new Hebden Bridge Loop, to Housesteads on the Roman Wall and returning home via Bardon Mill – this is set over 12-14 days which is within most people’s grasp.

The book is well written and comes with good colour maps at 1:25 000 of the whole route which shows every wall, gate and stile along the route. If like me, you consider the Cheviots to be one of the finest sections of the Pennine Way, the authors also include maps for the northern and southern sections of the route (but not the route description and obviously these aren’t as detailed).

The book is a handy size to carry and as it only has 82 pages and weighs 162g, it is an ideal book to take. There are some nice photographs and as the book was supported by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund, a percentage of the book sales will be used to improve and protect the Pennine Way. I liked it very much and it is a great addition to the PW guides now available.

See the Pennine Way Assoociation here.

Footsteps - the Wainwright Society magazine, Autumn 2015

Heart of the Pennine Way

by Tony and Chris Grogan

This book is a guide to a 165-mile walk along a central section of the Pennine Way, prompted by a wish of Wainwright Society members Tony and Chris Grogan to come up with a challenging walk that they could fit into a fortnight's holiday.

They looked at the Pennine Way and decided to omit the first 42 miles, mindful of "frightening accounts of ... boggy wastes (and) glutinous bogs", and the last 53 miles north of Hadrian's Wall especially the final "27-mile marathon slog along the boggy ridge of the Cheviots". The remaining walk starts at Hebden Bridge and is aptly dubbed the Mid Pennine Way.

The book has ten chapters covering the day stages, which vary from 14 to 20 miles in length. The routes are clearly and concisely described and illustrated by clear, linear annotated maps.

I could not resist a wry smile when I read that, after completing the walk, Tony had "a niggling feeling of unfinished business", which led later on to his walking the two sections they had omitted from the full Pennine Way. For good measure, these sections are also described in an Appendix.

This is a well-presented book that describes a challenging walk that, like the Coast to Coast Walk, has the merit of being achievable within a fortnight's walking holiday.

Published by Skyware ltd - ISBN 978 0 9559987 9 9 - Price £9.99

David Johnson, Editor

See the Wainwright Society website here.

Settle Carlisle Railway Journal, August 2015

BOOK REVIEW by John Disney


Tony & Chris Grogan
Skyware Press £9.99
ISBN 978-0-9559987-9-9

This is a very well written and presented book giving detailed annotated maps and accompanying text for the Pennine Way between Hebden Bridge and Bardon Mill (both on the rail network). The 165 miles are broken into 10 longish sections but the authors admit that these may be too arduous for many so give suggestions how to split some sections using trains (including the S&C) and buses to access suitable accommodation off-route. This would be further helped if the maps used a bus symbol where the PW crosses a bus route.

End to end PW walkers are diminishing but short breaks (especially long weekends) are becoming more popular so this book may appeal to those doing sections between Gargrave, Horton, Hawes (bus to Garsdale) and Dufton (walk or taxi to Appleby) using the S&C.

I boot tested the guide on an unfamiliar section between Ickornshaw and Gargrave and did not need to refer to the OS map despite a diversion due to stampeding cattle! However, the minimalist contour information and shading on the maps did not prepare me for some steep sided valleys. The small scale maps for the southern and northern extremities seemed out of place; if you are planning to walk the entire 260 miles you would surely buy an end to end guidebook? Maybe the space could have been better devoted to some telephone numbers for accommodation, cafes, pubs and taxis on the Heart of the Pennine Way?

Nevertheless, if you are walking some sections of the PW using the S&C this is the guidebook for you.

See The Friends of the settle-Carlisle Line (FoSCL) here.

Westmorland Gazette, 9 May 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Heart of the Pennine Way,

by Tony and Chris Grogan, £9.99

ALTHOUGH the Grogans don't include all the Pennine Way in their excellent guide, they confidently claim the 165 miles covered here are the best the 50-year-old trail has to offer.

The Mid Pennine Way is still a tough walk, though, the Grogans insist.

Taking in roughly 65 per cent of the full trail, the walk starts at Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire and ends at Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland.

The couple say: "It includes almost all the highlights to be found along the Pennine Way, including the stunning limestone country of the Yorkshire Dales, the dramatic waterfalls and wild open moors of the Durham Dales and the very best of the Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site."

This 'Pennine Way-lite' version is an ideal length for a two-week trek and the book divides it into 10 easily manageable sections.

The guide has plenty of photographs of key landmarks but perhaps the maps, which appear on almost every page, are its greatest visual asset.

The trail descriptions, too, are clear and concise. A great addition to the Pennine Way guidebook canon.


See the Westmorland Gazette here.

Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 9 May 2015



Jim Greenhalf recalls a Pennine Way walking trip as he reviews a new step-by-step guide for a classic challenge

IN 1993 I set out with some relatives to walk part of the Pennine Way from Settle to Hawes.

Our fluctuating route took us across the boggy sea-green undulations below Fountain’s Fell and up the slopes of some of the highest parts along the route.

Telegraph & Argus 9 May 2015I have vivid memories of that three-day family hike 22 years ago: the rocky steps up Malham Cove, finding it impossible to sleep in youth hostels, chucking a toilet roll to my brother-in-law whose fear of heights got the better of him at the summit of Pen-y-Ghent, and me falling flat on my face while trying to leap a muddy puddle on a rain-teeming Friday morning.

The distant lights of Hawes, seen through persistent rain, was one of the cheerier aspects of tramping that wheel-rutted track. Waiting for a train back to Settle on the platform of Garsdale Scar the following sunny morning, was another.

We only unravelled a bit of the walk. The entire Pennine Way, from Edale in the Peak District to Kirk Yetholm at the top of Northumberland National Park, is 268 miles in length.

If you fancy following a longer bit a Mid Pennine Way walk is mapped out in colourful and graphic detail in Chris and Tony Grogan’s latest walking booklet, Heart of the Pennine Way. Their Saltaire publishing company Skyware Press has produced half-a-dozen equally impressive publications over the past few years, most of which have been reviewed in the T&A.

Chris said: “When we were planning a fortnight’s walking holiday, we looked at the Pennine Way but knew we couldn’t walk it all. So we came up with a new way to tackle an old friend – the mid Pennine Way.

“It worked for us. We thoroughly enjoyed our adventure and recommend it whole-heartedly.”

They divided the 165 miles of the route into ten sections. The longest stretch is just over 20 miles from Middleton-in-Teesdale to Dufton. The shortest is at the end – 12.9 miles from Greenhead to Housesteads and Bardon Mill.

Each of the ten sections has constituent parts, as the authors outline: “The first two sections can be conveniently broken into three, with stopping points at Ponden or Haworth and at Earby and Gargrave. Section Five can be broken at Thwaite, Muker or Keld, especially if the next goal is Bowes (though check first that accommodation is available there).

“Section six can be conveniently broken at Langdon Beck, especially given the tough day to follow, leaving plenty of time to enjoy the facilities at Middleton-in-Teesdale and the waterfalls along the way.”

The booklet also includes photographs, maps with inset descriptions of what to look out for along the way and diagrams.

The Pennine Way is not a stroll in the park.

“The key to success is careful preparation,” say the Grogans. Even these two experienced hikers had moments of trepidation setting off from Hebden Bridge to Haworth. But the weather was good and Bronte country proved uplifting. They entered the Yorkshire Dales via a riverside ramble to Malham.

“Next day was our first real test, the two mountains of Fountain’s Fell and Pen-y-Ghent, but all went well and soon we were heading north again along the limestone scars of Ribblesdale.”

A couple of days into their walk they went up to Tan Hill, Swaledale, and England’s highest pub. The Tan Hill Inn, 1,732 feet above sea level.

They went on to trek the stony plateau of Cross Fell, at nearly 3,000 feet above sea level the highest peak on the Pennine Way, and walked down to Garrigill and Alston in Cumbria.

With journey’s end in sight they set off along the South Tyneside Valley, crossing marshy pastures of Hartleyburn and Blenkinsopp Commons.

“Our final day was a delight, hopping along Hadrian’s Wall atop the impressive Whin Sill ridge, before exploring the fascinating Roman forts at Housesteads and Vindolanda,” said Chris. “We caught the train at Bardon Mill for Carlisle then onto the Settle-Carlisle line home.”

Can there be a better way of rounding off a walk along the Pennine Way than a trip across the Ribblehead Viaduct?

Tony Grogan still had something to prove. From Derbyshire, he walked 42.5 miles from Edale into Calder Valley.

His route, which is set out in an illustrated seven-page appendix at the back of the booklet, covered miles of stone slab paving across former bogland.

He encourages would-be Pennine Way walkers to take the first step, saying, “It needn’t be an all-or-nothing gruelling expedition.”

See the Telegraph & Argus here.

Yorkshire Post, 1 April 2015

Country & Coast, by Roger Ratcliffe

The popularity of the Pennine Way at 50

IF YOU were to take every newspaper and magazine article written about this month’s 50th birthday of the Pennine Way and place them end to end, they might just about stretch from the route’s start at Edale in Derbyshire to the finishing line at Kirk Yetholm on the Scottish border.

The media love an anniversary, and as far as the Pennine Way is concerned I think the main reason for celebration is that it was the first major long-distance route established in Britain.

For a few decades the PW was our premier challenge walk, de rigour for everyone from teenage Duke of Edinburgh Award participants to new retirees determined to prove their enduring fitness. Now, though, it’s not nearly as popular as it was in those early years. Competition as a place for walkers to get foot blisters has steadily increased from other routes, so much so that the Long Distance Walkers Association now lists over 1,400 footpaths in the UK.

A manager at Malham Youth Hostel once told me that Pennine Wayers - once the mainstay of the hostel’s business - accounted for a much smaller proportion of guests than they used to, and blamed this on the increasing popularity of the relatively new Coast to Coast Walk from St. Bees Head in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay on the Yorkshire coast.

The main appeal of the 190-mile C2C is that it can be achieved in a fortnight’s holiday, whereas the 267-mile Pennine Way takes most ordinary mortals a good three weeks to complete. However, I would suggest another reason for the the C2C’s pre-eminence as king of our National Trails (the Americanism that replaced “long distance footpaths”): it has a clearly defined start beside the Irish Sea and finish on the shore of the North Sea, compared to the somewhat arbitrary beginning and ending of the PW.

There is also the matter of long sections of the PW being eroded and disfigured by past over-use. The guidebook author and deviser of the C2C, Alfred Wainwright, once observed bleakly: “Farmers along the route, faced with broken walls and straying stock, are being sorely tried. Sheep are crippling and choking themselves with broken glass and plastic bags. In time you won’t need a map: just follow the trail of empty cans and orange peel.”

II’d like to venture another explanation for the PW’s diminished appeal. Large parts of it are basically an endurance test, devoid of interest. In particular, the sections south of the M62 and north of Hadrian’s Wall are mostly unremitting slogs.

A new guidebook published on April 24th, the PW’s birthday, addresses this deficiency. Heart of the Pennine Way (Skyware Press, £9.99) includes all the best features from Hebden Bridge northwards to Top Withens aka Wuthering Heights, Malham Cove and Penyghent through Wensleydale and Swaledale to Tan Hill, the dramatic spectacles of High Force and High Cup, and triumphant climax at Hadrian’s Wall. And at 165 miles it’s easily doable in a fortnight’s holiday.

See the Yorkshire Post here.