Thirty years ago I walked the Pennine Way with a friend, Robert. I thought readers might be interested and (hopefully) amused by some recollections. Time has dulled my memory, so I can’t guarantee the accuracy of everything. Fortunately, I have the original copy of the Wainwright Pennine Way Companion, complete with overnight stops, so the one thing I’m absolutely sure of is the start and finish of every day. Unfortunately the seventy odd slide pictures I took have been lost, so there is no picture accompaniment.
The idea of walking the Pennine Way had been brewing for a while. Two years previously, I had walked (or more accurately wandered) for five weeks in the summer around the Lake District and down through the Yorkshire Dales to Settle. The following summer I was unable to do anything because of glandular fever. After this disappointment, I was determined to do a really good walk and the Pennine Way seemed like the natural thing to do.
I had walked a fair bit with Robert before, so he was a natural companion and overall it worked well. Both of us were at university and summer jobs provided us with the necessary funds for our adventure. One piece of luck was that a former school colleague had a complete set of maps covering the Pennine Way that Robert was able to purchase cheaply.
New gear was assembled. In my case, I had a new tent, a Saunders Backpacker S, a new rucksack, a Berghaus Centurion sack on a Loadstar frame (these were the final days of framed rucksacks). My sleeping bag was a Daimor down and feather bag, with a Berghaus closed cell foam mat to lie on. There were new boots, Zamberlan fully lined leather boots (no insoles, ouch!). I also had the first GoreTex jacket made by Mountain Equipment. My mother made me some waterproof “chaps” instead of overtrousers.
I had a pair of Fjallraven Greenland trousers, which were the forerunner of so many polycotton trousers, which I wore for practically the whole trip. I also had a pair of extremely uncomfortable woollen breeches, which were horribly itchy and I hardly wore. There was also the inevitable fibre pile jacket, North Cape, I think.
The rest of my clothes were non-specialist stuff garnered from my wardrobe such as jeans and cotton shirts. However, I did have a Damart base layer t-shirt, which was very useful as it wicked well but stank after a couple of days! Another piece of useful clothing I took was a thin Skiing jacket, which was nylon with thin thinsulate-type insulation, which was fantastically practical as a general hiking jacket.
Cooking system was a Primus petrol stove with Sigg bottle, cheap aluminium saucepan from the hardware shop and an aluminium mess kit. Food consisted of mainly Vesta meals, John West kippers in tins, Batchelor’s savoury rice, bread, cheese, Kendal mint cake and boiled sweets.
Day minus one
On the 5thSeptember 1978, we travelled up to London on the train, thence on to Sheffield, changing to the local service to Edale. At Edale we pitched our tents at the camp site next to the National Park Information Centre. I can’t remember what we had for supper, but I’m sure we went to the pub! I guess we must have cooked our own meal. As students, we had to watch the pennies. I seem to remember the weather was cloudy, but it wasn’t actually raining.