After our gloriously indirect route on the Scottish National Trail, for getting through northern England we chose to follow the Alternative Pennine Way - a relatively direct route stretching 250 miles from Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders to Youlgreave in Derbyshire.
The "standard" route from John o'Groats to Land's End uses the Pennine Way, but we hiked that over Christmas and New Year 2008 - 2009, so the Alternative Pennine Way seemed like a good option. It's a bit obscure, as it only exists in a guide book published in 1992 and not reprinted since. We saw a few "APW" signs on our first two days but that was it.
It uses a good mix of well-used and not-so-well-used footpaths, minor roads and forestry tracks, as well as some completely pathless cross-country sections to keep us working hard for our daily mileage!
Something we have appreciated about the route, which weaves its way around the Pennine Way, is that it doesn't avoid features previously thought to be too unattractive to feature on a walking route. Kielder Forest was Europe's largest manmade forest at the time of publication - while the Pennine Way skirts around the edge, the APW plunges through the heart of it and the guidebook tells you a lot about its creation and the forestry business. While the Pennine Way avoids the relics of the lead mining industry (mostly 16th to 19th century), the APW takes you right past old levels disappearing into the hillside, flues, chimneys and spoil heaps - all really interesting stuff for us.
But it's not all a totally manmade landscape - it's also taken us through some wonderfully bleak moorland and quiet dales, and given us new perspectives on places we've visited many times before.
Hope you like the photos.
|Milecastle 42 - Hadrian's Wall
|Following a mossy ride in Kielder Forest
|APW sign - Kielder Forest
Road north of Hadrian's Wall
|Moor above Unthank
|Smelt mill flue - Dryburn Moor
|Smelt mill chimney - Dryburn Moor
|High Cup Nick from near Dufton
|Lane near Appleby
|Meadows in Wensleydale
|Pathless expanse on Scrafton Moor
|Cotton grass on Scrafton Moor
|Between Coverdale and Nidderdale
|Descent into Nidderdale
|Greenhow lead mine
Bolton Abbey - Wharfdale
|Footpath down into Addingham
|Meadows on the way to Addingham
|Five Rise locks - Bingley