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Pennine Way hike in the Peak District (England)

We did not fail, we just found 10.000 ways that did not work. I think that pretty much sums up our 2014 attempt to hike part of the Pennine Way hike in the Peak District near Manchester. This was probably one of the most disastrous hikes I ever did. Not because we got lost (which was the case at the Amalfi coast) or because of bad weather (like during my Laugavegur trail hike), because we got injured or because were ill-prepared, but because of all of these factors. And more.

But first things first.

The Pennine Way?!

The Pennine Way runs 429 km from Edale, in the northern Derbyshire Peak District (near Manchester), north through the Yorkshire Dales and the Northumberland National Park and ends at Kirk Yetholm, in Scotland. The path was the idea of the journalist and avid hiker Tom Stephenson who was inspired by similar trails in the United States of America, particularly the Appalachian Trail.

Peak District - river crossings
Peak District – river crossings

Our Pennine Way hike plans

As we had a few days to spare, we decided to hike three parts of the Pennine Way in the Peak District, which was closest to Manchester and easiest to reach.

But well … between plans and reality … there’s the Pennine Way hike in the Peak District.

Our Pennine Way hike in the Peak District

Peak District - rivers
Peak District – rivers

We started out in Edale, but only a few kilometers into the trail, at the plateau of Kinder Scout, the trail won. The Kinder Scout is a large, elevated moorland, overlooking the area.

When arriving at the plateau, we misread the trail descriptions (mistake 1) and turned right where we should have turned left (mistake 2). But it took us about 3 hours before we figured that out. In the meantime, we had post-rationalized every twist, turn, hill and river in such a way that we could convince ourselves that they resembled the twists, turns, hills and river that we should encounter in case we would have taken the correct route (mistake 3).

Not only until we came across a trail runner who figured we were Pennine Way hike n00bs who had taken the wrong turn and who was kind enough to point us in the right way, did we realize that. Stubborn as we were (mistake 4). At that point, however, we figured we did not know anymore where we got lost (mistake 5), we were confident we would be able to find our way back to the trail without returning to the last point we were certain we were on the right track (mistake 6) and we decided to cross the moorland to find our way back.

Peak District - danger
Peak District – danger

Going off-trail is always a bad idea (mistake 7), going off-trail crossing moorland is even worse (mistake 8) and doing that with running shoes rather than hiking boots is just plain stupid (mistake 9). So this was just a recipe for disaster. For more than an hour, we tried to cross the moorland, until we finally pretty much ended where we reached the edge of the plateau 3 hours earlier and where -we finally realized- had mistakingly taken the wrong route.

Peak District - trying to avoid the mud
Peak District – trying to avoid the mud

As we had lost a lot of time in the morning with our epic fail at Kinder Scout, we had to rush to get to the end of the trail before dark.

The hike itself was really nice. Stone slabs pathways across the moorland, hills and rock formations, cosy streams, large areas of peat.

As I said before, we were clearly ill-prepared on our Pennine Way hike (mistake 10) as we were both wearing our running shoes rather than hiking boots. This meant that large parts of the trail looked more like ice skating (and although my brother and I are Dutch, we’re not really that good) and/or tip-toeing through lava or broken glass to avoid wet feet, slipping in the mud or getting stuck in the mud.

The time pressure we felt made it even worse.

Our shins and knees started to hurt because of the sudden movements, slips, tumbles and falls.

So when we, just before dusk, arrived at The Old House B&B (a really nice place to stay on the trail by the way) for the night, we were euphoric. Sore. Sorry. But euphoric. We had some food, a quick beer, we went to bed and hoped for the better.

Day 2 of our Pennine Way hike

But it was worse the next morning.

Our shins and knees felt like they had knives piercing them with regular intervals. Every climb, every descent was mere torture. We were lucky that most of the day were flat moorlands.

The sheep we encountered along the way were clearly more skilled and more badass then we were.

Peak District - pretty hardcore sheep
Peak District – pretty badass sheep

And so, although we would have loved to see it differently, the trail won and we had to admit defeat and surrender at the end of day 2 at The Carriage House, without finishing the third day.

Peak District - almost there
Peak District – almost there, defeat at The Carriage House

We had a beer, some food, a night sleep and took the bus and train back to Manchester the next morning.

What we learned from our Pennine Way hike in the Peak District

We decided:

 

 

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