Pennine Bridleway

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Pennine Bridleway
Pennine Bridleway signpost.jpg
The Pennine Bridleway signpost hear Parsley Hay, where the route on the High Peak Trail is joined by that on the Tissington Trail
Length 130 mi (209 km)
Location Northern England, United Kingdom
Designation UK National Trail
Trailheads Middleton-by-Wirksworth, Derbyshire
Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire
Use Hiking, horseback riding, cycling
Highest point Top of Leach, 474 m (1,555 ft)
Hiking details
Trail difficulty Moderate
Season All year

The Pennine Bridleway is a new National Trail under designation in Northern England.

It runs roughly parallel with the Pennine Way but provides access for horseback riders and cyclists as well as walkers. The trail is around 130 miles (209 km) long; 73 miles (117 km) through Derbyshire to the South Pennines, the 47-mile (76 km) Mary Towneley Loop and the 10-mile (16 km) Settle Loop.[1] In its southern part, it follows the High Peak Trail along the trackbed of the former Cromford and High Peak Railway. The highest points along the trail are South Head Hill in Derbyshire (between Rushup Edge and Hayfield) and Top of Leach, the highest point on the Mary Towneley Loop.


In 1986 Mary Towneley rode on horseback 250 miles (402 km) from Corbridge, Northumberland to Ashbourne, Derbyshire to launch the idea of a Pennine Bridleway. This was followed by a feasibility study and route investigation from 1987 to 1990. Finally in 1995 approval was granted for the Pennine Bridleway National Trail from Carsington Water, Derbyshire to Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria.

In 1999 Sport England awarded and donated £1,841,876 towards the route from Derbyshire to North Yorkshire and 3 feeder routes from Keighley, Bolton and Penistone. The Pennine Bridleway project team was appointed by the Countryside Agency and work began shortly.

In 2000 there was a proposal for an extension to the Pennine Bridleway from Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria to Byrness, Northumberland. This extension was approved in 2002.

Mary Towneley died in February 2001, and is commemorated by the Mary Towneley Loop, which opened in 2002. The southern section of the Trail from Derbyshire followed, and in 2005 the Settle Loop opened, though it is currently not joined to the Pennine Bridleway.

The Pennine Bridleway is not to be confused with the Pennine Cycleway (part of the National Cycle Network) or the Pennine Way (a separate National Trail).


Starting in Middleton-by-Wirksworth, Derbyshire, the Pennine Bridleway mainly follows historic routes and trails along the flanks of the Pennines. It initially follows the High Peak Trail along a disused railway passing through the limestone of the White Peak. (An alternative starting point is the site of the former Hartington railway station, using a short section of the Tissington Trail before joining the High Peak Trail at Parsley Hay.) Beyond the limestone plateau is the millstone grit of the Dark Peak, and the trail follows the line of a packhorse road from Tideswell, via Peak Forest to Hayfield, where it briefly follows the line of another converted railway, the Sett Valley Trail.

Leaving Derbyshire for Greater Manchester, the trail follows the edge of a heather moor and picks up an ancient highway along the Tame valley. From here the trail descends to follow a dismantled railway where the route heads towards Hollingworth Lake. It later joins the Mary Towneley Loop, which climbs to the highest point of the Trail: Top of Leach at 474 metres (1,555 ft). The trail passes through the town of Waterfoot in the Rossendale Valley and follows new tracks via Lumb before entering the Cliviger Gorge and then climbing up to the Long Causeway. The trail joins the Gorple Road, a more remote stretch of the trail that leads to Blackshaw Head. The trail drops down into the Calder valley and the town of Hebden Bridge, where the route picks up London Road and heads towards Bottomley.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pennine Bridleway website - about this trail

External links[edit]