The Pennine Way National Trail
High Cup Nick on the Pennine Way National Trail
Steve Westwood, Pennine Way National Trail Officer writes:
"It seems naive with hindsight, but when Tom Stephenson first called for the Pennine Way in his 1935 article ‘Wanted: a long green line’ he envisaged the Pennine Way as a simple grass trod weaving its way up the backbone of England.
Unfortunately the popularity of the Way resulted in the thin green line turning into a 70 metre wide eroded quagmire in places and what followed was a huge effort to repair the damage and provide a sustainable path for walkers to walk along the Way.
Today much of the repair work is complete, but still a lot of effort goes into managing the Pennine Way. I’m currently preparing to carry out the 2008 Condition Survey. This involves walking the entire 268 miles of the route, whilst recording work that needs doing on a hand held survey computer linked to a GPS system, to record the location.
This will be my 6th walk along the Way – and my fourth for work. It takes around 25 days to survey the entire route. The Way passes through 14 Highway Authority areas – and a member of staff from the relevant authority accompanies me on each of the sections.
For this and the previous survey the main emphasis is on making the Way available to as wide and diverse a range of walkers as possible. In terms of the ground management this equates to two main changes:
Firstly, we are re-signing the entire route to modern standards. When the Pennine Way was first opened it was only signposted from south to north – which made walking north to south a bit more challenging!
Secondly, where reasonable, we are replacing stiles with kissing gates so that a range of users from backpackers with large rucksacks, dog walkers and the less able don’t have to climb over stiles to enjoy the walk.
I have worked on the Pennine Way for 8 years now, and I often get people saying what a fantastic job I have – I have to agree, the Pennines are an addictive place and they have certainly got under my skin – everyone should do the Pennine Way once in their lifetime!"