15th August 2014

Putting ‘A Pennine Journey’ long-distance footpath on the map


Today’s guest blog is from David Pitt, Chairman of the Pennine Journey Supporters Club

As long-distance footpath walkers and Alfred Wainwright (AW) admirers it seemed logical when, in 1991, my wife Heather and I were wondering what long distance path we should do next that, we remembered AW’s words in his “Personal Notes” at the conclusion of his Coast to Coast Walk guide book: “The map of England is an oyster very rich in pearls. Plan your own marathon and do something never done before…


Sample Mapping

What we planned was our ‘own marathon’ but based it on AW’s narrative of his ‘A Pennine Journey’ that he did in 1938, published in 1986 after he had become famous. His walk was done mainly using minor roads, in those days relatively traffic-free, but ours was planned using our library of OS maps and took in as many routes described by AW as reasonably possible. One example being the liberal use of the Pennine Way route for which he wrote in 1968 the Pennine Way Companion, regarded by many as the definitive route guide to the first National Trail which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2015.

It was 1998 before we walked what we then (and for several years afterwards) called our Settle to Settle Walk: it seemed sacrilegious to call it ‘A Pennine Journey’. Then in 2003 the Wainwright Society was formed and the committee took up our suggestion of a collaborative venture by the members to write and publish a guide to this modern recreation of AW’s first long distance walk.



Sensible revisions to our initial route stretched the distance from 230 miles to 247 miles, resulting from members’ input and in April 2010 the guide book was published by Frances Lincoln. For some years they had published all Wainwright material and we were delighted when the book was given the accolade of being described as a ‘pictorial guide’ – something only used by them for AW’s own guide books. This was due in no small measure to the lovely route maps, at 2½ inches to the mile, done by Ron Scholes (shown above), who had been a personal friend of AW, together with black and white sketches by Colin Bywater (shown below).

However, we felt that this was only a milestone on the ‘A Pennine Journey’ route which could only end with, given AW’s admiration of the work of the Ordnance Survey, its inclusion on future OS maps. Firstly it was necessary have the route waymarked and this required the agreement of all the highway agencies involved. A development plan was compiled which attracted the support of all the parish and town councils along the route and following this, the blessing of the highway agencies was given. Then the Pennine Journey Supporters Club, to promote and support the route, was established and the necessary waymarking funds were raised from guide book royalties and sales. It was at this point that Ordnance Survey was approached to ask if they would include the route on future re-prints of Ordnance Survey maps and they agreed to do this once the waymarking was completed and the endorsement of the highway agencies was obtained.



In early 2013 the waymarking was started and completed by the target date of 25 September 2013 – the 75th anniversary of the start of AW’s ‘A Pennine Journey’ from Settle. The recent publication of Outdoor Leisure Map OL2 Yorkshire Dales (South and West) is the start of what could be considered the logical conclusion of the Pennine Journey project with the entire route being shown on Ordnance Survey maps. As a result of the help and support given by many people this will be the ultimate tribute to Alfred Wainwright who said about the Ordnance Survey: “I admire their work immensely, being lost in admiration of all their work. Their maps are, as ever, my favourite reading…They are a fine example of dedicated effort and meticulous accuracy. My private sanctum at home is crammed with Ordnance maps, most of them dog-eared with over-much use but all loved and respected and handled with reverence.”

You can also see the long distance footpath ‘A Pennine Way’ on the OS getamap online service.