Posts Tagged “Pennine Way”


As I look back on the 2010s, I get a better perspective on how my deconversion worked and how much changed. Where my 2019 review will probably end up “2019 was a lot like 2018, but still different”, the difference for me between January 2010 and December 2019 is night and day.

At the start of the decade, I was preparing to speak at a Bible software development conference, and my commitment to my childhood religion was unquestioned by all, including me. By the end of the decade I had spent more than a third of it as a self-identified atheist, had started a blog where I wrote critically and at length about religion, was involved in several strongly anti-theistic communities, and was about as certain as I could be that I was never going back.

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Four years ago, I was considering thru-hiking the Pennine Way. There was just one snag - the Pennine Way was supposed to be one of the toughest long distance walks around, and, though I’d done 30+ km day hikes, I’d never done a single overnight hike.

I decided I needed a trial run, and did a 60km, 4 day hike in Wilson’s Prom. This is the story of how a fairly disastrous first foray unexpectedly laid the groundwork for a successful Pennine Way trek.

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I’ve written several posts on my experiences with the Pennine Way. This time, I wanted to talk about the technical details: Where I stayed, the equipment I used, the trade-offs I made, what worked and what didn’t. I’ve also made a few suggestions for shorter routes if thru-hiking isn’t an option.

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It’s now three years since I successfully completed the Pennine Way, and two years since I wrote about the first half my trek and how it ended in injury. After a week in the north of England I made it into Scotland, and in Edinburgh I planned a return.

And so it happened: After visiting the Scottish Highlands, the Lake District, and the Isle of Man, I was ready for another shot at completing the Way.

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On the surface, hiking and blogging seem like complete opposites: one involves wandering the big outdoors, while the other involves sitting in front of a computer for far too many hours trying to wrangle my thoughts into a form others might understand. However, while I do far more hiking than I ever write about here, it is a fundamental part of my blogging process.

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This time last year I was in the middle of walking the Pennine Way. I’ve already written an overview of the experience, but in this post I want to give a feel of some of the many experiences on a long and varied trail.

This post covers the first half of the walk, from Edale to Middleton-in-Teesdale, where I left the trail for an unscheduled injury break. The second installment can wait until mid-August when I resumed the trail.

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For many years I have relied on electronic maps to help me understand the world, to discover new places to visit, and to find my way around. One stereotype of today’s generation is that we just use a satnav to get from A to B and accept whatever it gives us without really understanding where we are going. But that is not my experience.

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This year, I was in the UK for 2.5 months, and one of the things I wanted to do was lots of walking in English countryside. Walking the Pennine Way offered one good way to do it.

What’s the Pennine Way? National Trails UK explains:

Steeped in history, this National Trail chases along the mountain tops along the rugged backbone of England and offers 268 miles of the finest upland walking in England. A once in a lifetime experience.

It also gives you magnificent scenery, follows the best section of the historic Hadrian’s Wall, and even takes you into Scotland.

Not everything went to plan, but in the end I completed it, and that’s the main thing.

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