• Lush green pastures provide a wonderful start to section 3 - Alston to Kirk Yetholm
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  • The footpath is easy to follow and clearly signposted
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  • Old viaduct at Simsholm Well, north of Slaggyford
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  • The Pennine Way heading to Lambley, approaching Glendue Wood
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  • On the Roman Road heading to the small hamlet of Lambley. Hadrian's Wall will soon appear on the skyline
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  • Twice Brewed Inn at sunset - a dramatic location for a pint and pie
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  • Looking West on Hadrian's Wall and contemplating the life here for the Roman soldier
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  • Hadrian's Wall and Crag Lough
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  • Trig point on Winshield Crags - Hadrian's Wall
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  • A close up view of the wall construction from turret 39A
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  • Hadrian's wall and the excavated stonework at milecastle 39.
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  • Sycamore Gap. Sadly of course this iconic tree was cut down in 2023
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  • Winter on the Wall - "North of the Wall" as the saying goes in Game of Thrones
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  • This Aberdeen Angus Bull was unflinching as we continued north
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  • Steve and me enjoying the evening sunshine after a long cold days hike
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  • A lone walled copse of trees on Haughton Common
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  • The devastation of woodland left by Storm Arwen
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  • One of the best built monuments at Padon Hill. Looking north to the Cheviot Hills
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  • St Francis's Church, Byrness
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  • A fair weather day. Steve heading north into the Cheviots
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  • The sunshine stays with us through the lush green fields. Nothumberland National Park
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  • My endless fascination with the mountain Refuge
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  • A Tibetan style outpost and waymarker on the ridge near Windy Gyle
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  • Grouse shooting butt with the Cheviot's in the distance
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  • Ken on the summit of The Cheviot - Northumberland's highest fell 2674ft (815m)
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  • It's getting near the border. Is that a full English, or a full Scottish sir?
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  • Auchope Cairn
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  • It's time for a two shot - the last section of the Pennine Way
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  • Stunning scenery on our descent from Cairn Hill. Looking back into Hen Hole and West Hill
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  • View to the Schil from Auchope Cairn. The remoteness here is awesome
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  • Lunch stop in our last bothy before we reach Scotland. Auchope Cairn
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  • The welcome site of the Border Hotel in Kirk Yetholm
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  • Waheey! The Pennine Way is complete. Steve and I decide to buy our pint, rather than add it to the landord's/or is that Wainwright's tab for completing the Pennine Way
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Section 3 - The Back
Alston To Kirk Yetholm

Crossing into the Northern Pennines from Alston and reaching the Cheviots is a wonderful experience. If you like your routes remote and wild, then this is the section for you. Thankfully, there are still great areas of wilderness like this in the UK.  As we stood on the top of one of the highest sections of the Cheviot Hills we could see for 30-40 miles in all directions.  Exhilarating on a clear day.

Alston still reminds me of my college days. We would often catch the bus from Newcastle across the A686 to the Lake District. The bus would pull up for a 30 minute stop at Alston - and everyone would get off for a cup of tea. Those were the days. Alston remains a lovely town, equal with Buxton in Derbyshire as the highest market town in England. The paths are easily followed and gently cross the green and lush fields.

Through Slaggyford and Knarsdale, following the old drovers roads to Greenhead.

The walk reaches Hadrian's Wall - 74 miles (119km) in length, ten feet high and six foot thick and built of stone. An astonishing man made structure, rich in history and built by the Romans approx 1900 years ago. That's quite a thought, when you consider that up to 4000 soldiers, masons and carpenters worked here in this remote wilderness, as it must have been, in northern Britain.

Designed to keep out the marauding "barbarians from the North", as Hadrian himself once said. With its forts and numbered turrets, headquarters and barracks, Hadrian's Wall crosses the top of the rugged and natural escarpment known as Whin Sill. In 1987 the Wall was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The views both north and south are wonderful. Rolling hills, big open fields, split by drystone walls and isolated forest. Barely a village in sight. 

I am no geologist, but as I’ve walked the Northern Trek I have become more interested in the landscape and rocks on which my boots have trodden. As a rough guide the landscape looking northwards from Hadrian's Wall is very much volcanic in origin. Created by fire and the fury of lava flows and igneous activity. Explosions and violent chaos from the earth's depths.

Looking southwards, the landscape is ‘generally’ from the Carboniferous era. With fossils and animal footprints left in limestone, mudstone and sandstone. There's a richness of animal and sealife buried within ancient forests and swamps. I recommend the terrific book ‘Walking The Bones of Britain’ by Christopher Summerville for the expert’s view on the subject.

Our walk crosses perhaps the most popular section of Hadrian's Wall, from Thirwall to Housesteads. A stretch of approximately 8 miles (13km), with the highest section reaching 1230ft (375m) at Winshield Crags. This section of wall sits high above two small natural reservoirs, Greenlee and Broomlee Loughs. It’s not an easy walk along this section. If you have any aches and pains, they will be amplified here. It’s a wild and craggy landscape, loved by so many people.

Heading north from Hadrian’s Wall, through the lovely Wark Forest we first heard and then saw several Crossbills in the treetops. A lovely sound in this quiet forest. It's over the bridge and into Bellingham which is the last official town before the end of the Pennine Way. It’s a good place to stay with traditional pubs and shops where you can stock up on supplies. 

It was March 2022 when we trekked through the nearby Border forests. The area had just been hit by one of the UK's worst storms - and much of the spruce forest had been flattened. We were walking in winter and it was dark very early. All the power was off.  As we arrived at our pub, we were greeted by a distraught landlord and burning candles. No one else was present. The owner said he had booked us into a B&B in Bellingham, where the electricity was still on - we could then at least, get a hot meal at the end of our long day. Northern hospitality at its absolute best. I will never forget the good gesture of this caring publican. The devastation to the forest was so great, that when we revisited the area in 2023 much of the forest was still flat on the ground. A very sad sight.

Over Padon Hill to Byrness with its picture perfect little church and then ready for the challenging walk uphill and on to the Cheviots. The Pennine Way very briefly crosses into Scotland before returning to walk alongside the border’s edge for some miles.

The final two days of the Pennine Way are my favourite section! A proper wild open landscape. I love the remoteness in this section of the Northumberland National Park. No towns or cities to be seen. We walked in glorious sunshine for the next two days, over stunning moorland and across rolling green hills. No jagged edges or craggy pinnacles here. It’s hard to imagine that the Cheviot massif is actually the remnant of an extinct volcano, re-shaped and softened by 400 million years of erosion. 

Look east and you can see the North Sea. It's the most wonderful space in our very crowded world. It's a great place to be. To refresh and certainly enlighten the inner soul.

We met three walkers from the North East who teased our Yorkshire accents, telling us that ‘these peaks were reserved for Geordie walkers only’. I think we won their admiration when we told them that we were on a 560 mile trek North. Respect was earned.

There are two excellent ‘boltholes’ on the last stretch of the Pennine Way. Ideally placed to provide shelter or just a place to rest and have lunch during the last 25 miles. Both are mountain huts - a refuge or a 'Bothy' as they would be called in Scotland.

The first Mountain Hut, known as Yearning Saddle,  is just below Lamb Hill and within easy reach of the summit of Windy Gyle 2031ft (619m). It has the largest summit cairn on the Pennine Way and the view is breathtaking. Several miles later, after crossing the Border Ridge, you can sit and enjoy a well earned rest in the second hut, Auchope Cairn, with its stunning views over the Cheviots. It has been described as having the finest view in Northumberland and it’s easy to see why. 

Both huts could easily be used as an ‘overnight stop’ should the final day be too long for tired legs on the last section of the Pennine Way. 

At this point, it’s hard to think that the end of this section is just a few hours away. Over the Schil and down into Kirk Yetholm for a free half pint in the pub, which is well deserved.

You have now completed the UK’s first and best known footpath, The Pennine Way. Well done.

81 miles
12,150 feet of ascent

Section Videos

Section 3 'fly through' 81 miles of Pennine Way. Over the Yorkshire Dales, through Teesdale and into The Cheviots

Section 3 - Video 1 Wonderful views from the tops of The Cheviots

Section 3 - Video 2 The damage left by Storm Babet

Section 3 - Video 3 The sound of a frozen boot!!

Map ref

OS Explorer: OL31, OL43, OL42, OL16

time to complete

6-8 Days

Route Downloads

Downloadable route files in .gpx format for use on your GPS device or to use in your digital mapping software

Elevation profile: Alston to Kirk Yetholm