Last year writer and journalist Andrew McCloy walked the 268-mile Pennine Way, from Derbyshire to the Scottish Borders, to try and understand how our oldest walking trail has developed such an identity and a reputation - for good and bad!
The Pennine Way and Lancaster University were opened within a year of each other (1964/65) and at its nearest point the trail is only 20 miles away from the campus. Andrew (a self-confessed Southerner) admits that the lure of the hills was partly responsible for him choosing Lancaster in the first place and during his time there he was a mainstay of the Hiking Club, with weekly outings to the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.
His new book is published by the UK's leading outdoors publisher Cicerone, based just up the A6 from Lancaster at Milnthorpe, and it reflects a renewed interest in outdoor recreation and an appreciation of the mental and physical benefits of walking in the hills. The Pennine Way was where it all started, formally opened in 1965 but first dreamt up in the 1930s. Its story embodies the long struggle to gain access to the hills and moors of northern England, including trespasses and mass protests, but the book also explores themes of adventure, self-discovery and achievement and includes interviews with a range of people who explain how the path has shaped their lives and what it means to them. From the humdrum to the heroic, from the oddball to the record-breakers, the Pennine Way story is about half a century of bog, sweat and tears.
The Pennine Way: The Path, the People, the Journey by Andrew McCloy is published by Cicerone at £12.95 www.cicerone.co.uk/