The Pennine Way on the approach to Pen-y-ghent in the Yorkshire Dales

The Pennine Way on the approach to Pen-y-ghent in the Yorkshire Dales

The UK’s oldest national trail hits its 50th birthday this year, and tourism bosses are urging walkers to celebrate the anniversary by pulling on their boots and visiting the route.

The Pennine Way will reach its half century on Friday 24 April.

The 429km (268-mile) route was the idea of journalist Tom Stephenson who wrote a piece, Wanted: a Long Green Trail, in the Daily Herald in 1935.

The path, which runs from Edale in Derbyshire to Kirk Yetholm in the Scottish Borders, was officially opened at a ceremony on Malham Moor in the Yorkshire Dales in 1965.

The trail passes through three national parks, the North Pennines area of outstanding natural beauty, two national nature reserves and 20 sites of special scientific interest.

Highlights include the Peak District’s highest hill Kinder Scout, scene of the 1932 mass trespass that was instrumental in the campaign to open up Britain’s hills to the walking public, Malham Cove, the 80m (260ft) limestone crag that forms a spectacular natural amphitheatre in the Yorkshire Dales, High Cup Nick, the deep chasm cutting into the Cumbrian Pennines and dubbed ‘England’s Grand Canyon’ and the nearby Cross Fell, highest point on the route and home to the a unique meteorological phenomenon, the Helm Wind.

Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales

Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales

Broadcaster Julia Bradbury said: “The Pennine Way, the longest and oldest national trail, chases the mountain tops along the rugged backbone of England and offers 268 miles of some of the finest upland walking in England.

“The route is steeped in history and packed with dramatic spots, like Kinder Scout, Ribblehead, Cauldron Snout, High Cup Nick and Hadrian’s Wall, as the route weaves its way through five of my favourite places, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, County Durham, Cumbria and Northumberland.”

VisitEngland’s chief executive James Berresford said: “The Pennine Way is one of the country’s most treasured national trails.

“As Britain’s first and oldest national trail it marks a historic route through stunning landscapes, rich with stories that unfold along its path. A draw for visitors every year from both the UK and abroad, this remarkable national trail stretches through some of the most spectacular northern landscapes this country has to offer, through the Peak District and Derbyshire, Cumbria, Yorkshire, Northumberland and County Durham, forming an important link between many towns and rural communities.

“This 50th anniversary year is a perfect opportunity to discover and experience the unique tourist spots it passes through, from three of our breathtaking national parks, to the wonders of the Northern Pennines or along Hadrian’s Wall, to name but a few.”

High Cup Nick in the North Pennines

High Cup Nick in the North Pennines

An exhibition by a group of artists will run at a Yorkshire Dales Museum in the run-up to the anniversary date.

Pennine Ways highlights the popular walking route using art, photography and sculpture and is now open at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes, Wensleydale.

Museum manager Fiona Rosher said: “This has been a wonderful opportunity to work with a range of artists who have all responded to the theme of the Pennine Way. The exhibition is a fascinating mix of original artefacts, archive material, unique artwork and sculpture connected with or inspired by the Pennine Way.

“We have contacted various organisations and local businesses such as National Trails, the Pennine Way Association, the Youth Hostel Association, Swaledale Mountain Rescue and the Tan Hill Inn. Everyone we have spoken to has been keen to contribute material because of the close connections they have with this renowned national trail.”

The museum is open daily between 10am and 5pm from February to October and between 10am and 4.30pm in November and December. Entry costs £4.50 for adults and is free for children.

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