Walk & Ride the South Pennines

John Manning


A project I’ve been working on closely in recent months is drawing closer to fruition – you can download a programme for the 2009 South Pennines Walk and Ride Festival here (note: download starts immediately).

The festival will take place from September 12 to 27, and features an incredible 108 events, ranging from short nature walks to yomping great strides over the South Pennines moors, from introductory mountainbiking courses to road cycling adventures and orienteering events of all levels to, for the first time for this particular festival, two horse riding events.

Most of the events are free of charge, and only a handful require pre-booking. Most are reachable by using the area’s excellent public transport network, both west and east of the Pennine watershed.

It’s the ideal opportunity to discover and explore the South Pennines, an area of deep valleys and expansive moorlands, rich in industrial and natural heritage, wedged between the more crowded Yorkshire Dales and Peak District National Parks.

Calderdale countryside officer Mick Chatham (centre, knotted hankie on head) makes a point during his 2008 two-day group perambulation of the Todmorden Centenary Way; Mick’s headwear isn’t typical!

If you’ve never visited the area before, the festival presents the best of the area’s outdoor opportunities on a plate, for you to sample. If you’re a resident, there’s plenty for you and your family too, as experienced guides and leaders help you discover some of the area’s hidden treasures.

I’ll also be giving a talk, about my 2004 walk along the 2700-mile Pacific Crest Trail, as both part of the Walk & Ride Festival and the Walkers Are Welcome Weekend in Hebden Bridge, on September 12. The talk will take place in the Hole in t’Wall pub near the town centre, at 5.45pm.

Other festival speakers include Paddy Dillon and Andrew Bibby. Paddy will be discussing the country’s National Trails with a special focus on the Pennine Way – the Cicerone guidebook for which he is, coincidentally, currently revising. Andrew, a respected journalist and author, will be discussing his superb book The Backbone of England, in which he traces the Pennine Watershed from south to north, meeting interesting characters along the way and describing how the hills impact on the lives and livelihoods of those who live in and around them. His talk will be illustrated by John Morrison, the photographer whose stunning images accompany Andrew’s words in the book.

Details of all the talks and venues, as well as the walks, rides and other events in the festival, are contained in the festival programme, with contact details in case you need further information.

If you’d rather see the programme in this browser window. click here:

I’ve been pulling the festival together on behalf of South Pennines rural regeneration outfit Pennine Prospects. If you’d like a printed copy of the programme, check with TICs, libraries, rail stations… even bus drivers – or call Pennine Prospects direct on 01274 433536.


John Manning

Freelance outdoor writer John Manning and his family are based in the Yorkshire Dales