Explore the Trans Pennine Trail

Imagine walking right across England. On a trail that’s remarkably level considering it crosses a chunk of the Peak District National Park. Or perhaps you’d rather discover shorter routes in some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. Or maybe you prefer to explore on horseback or by bike. However you like to adventure, we’re confident the delightful Trans Pennine Trail offers something special for you.

What is the Trans Pennine Trail?

The Trans Pennine Trail snakes across Northern England from coast to coast. Its hundreds of glorious miles wind from Southport in the west on the Irish Sea, to Hornsea on the North Sea in the East. Despite crossing the Pennine Hills – a ridge where the highest peak is 893 metres – the Trans Pennine Trail meanders along only relatively gentle gradients, thanks to the fact that much of it runs along disused railway lines and canal paths.

The History of the Trans Pennine Trail

The Trans Pennine Trail is a relatively new long-distance path – work only started on it in 1999. It was officially opened in 2001, with the finishing touches being made by 2004. 

As well as being surprisingly level, it’s also superbly accessible. The well-maintained, surfaced paths make many sections easy to cycle. They’re also suitable for those using wheelchairs and pushchairs. Families love the Trans Pennine Trail as it’s mainly traffic free and is well signed throughout.

Walking on the Trans Pennine Trail

In fact around 70% of the Trans Pennine Trail is off limits to cars. There’s nothing quite like being able to explore at a slower pace, without having to worry about the presence of traffic, especially for parents. 

Because the route runs along former railway lines and canal paths, much of it is easy to reach from towns and cities. It also takes in stretches of beautiful countryside as it snakes past villages, abbeys and castles.

As a result, you get extensive, scenic, car-free walking within easy reach of transport links – and plenty of cafes and pubs. This means you can either complete the 215 miles of the main Trans Pennine Trail, or explore a wealth of shorter sections.

The route of the Trans Pennine Trail

Heading west to east from Southport, the main trail meanders through the suburbs of Liverpool and Manchester before traversing the Peak District, cutting up the bewitching Longdendale valley on the Longdendale Trail as far as Woodhead. From there, it’s down via Dunford Bridge and Doncaster and Hull to Hornsea. 

The Trans Pennine Trail also has an interlinking route running on a north–south axis. This connects Leeds with Chesterfield. And the trail has two other spurs – one running off to Kilburn and the other to the heritage city of York. This opens up walks, rides and cycles to even more beautiful and interesting areas. In total, the Trans Pennine Trail has 370 miles of routes to explore.

Cycling the Trans Pennine Trail

There aren’t many long distance paths that are mostly traffic free, but the Trans Pennine Trail is. That, along with its relatively level nature and good path surface, makes it a big hit with cyclists. 

If you’re not cycling the whole route, look out for shorter traffic-free sections to enjoy on a relaxing day out – these round trips can range from a few miles to up to 30 miles. Popular sections in the west include the 6-mile stretch along a disused railway line from Plex Moss to Maghull. 

Centrally, car-free stretches include the 6-mile cycle along the Don Valley, again along a former train route, from Dunford Bridge to Penistone. Or in the east, consider the 3 mile stretch – this time along a canal towpath – between Braithwaite and Sykehouse.  

The Trans Pennine Trail’s website and shop has full details of these routes and more.

Horse Riding on the Trans Pennine Trail

Unusually for such a long route, around two thirds of the Trans Pennine Trail is also open to horse riders. Again the relative level nature of the paths proves popular with equestrians, as does the width – sections along the former railway lines provide a reasonable amount of room to accommodate all trail users. 

Some sections are preserved for horse riders alone. There are even stretches where you can canter, while some car parks have special spaces for horse boxes. The Trail’s website has a guide and interactive map for horse riders.

Accessibility on the Trans Pennine Trail

As you’d expect on such a level, well-maintained route, the Trans Pennine Trail has many sections which are very accessible to those using wheelchairs and pushchairs, and families with young children. In addition, the Longdendale Access Project at Torside, has introduced a whole range of features to make the section more accessible to multiple needs. 

These include sound boxes containing recordings on historical and environmental themes, and activity posts where you can use paper and pencils to make pattered rubbings. There’s also a wealth of accessible seating and ramps to vantage points with fabulous views.

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Luckily, if you find you’ve fallen in love with the trail and the experiences it offers, you can pick up a Trans Pennine Trail souvenir. T shirts bearing the trails distinctive swooping chevron logo can be bought from the trail shop. 

And if you walk the whole route you can get a certificate to mark the achievement. To qualify, walkers collect stamps on a Trail Stamping Card from dozens of places en route.

Where to Stay as you Explore the Trans Pennine Trail

Whether you choose to walk the 215 miles of the main Trans Pennine Trail, or delight in exploring smaller sections, you’ll want somewhere special to stay on your adventures. At Yorkshire Premium Cottages we’re proud that two of our properties are right on the Trail’s doorstep – Weavers Cottage and Leapings Cottage are just 170 yards from the route itself. 

Our other four charming properties are also excellent options – a luxurious mix of cottages, manor houses and converted farms that offer everything from games rooms to hot tubs. Perfect places to relax and recharge in as you delight in the intriguing sights and natural beauty of the spectacular Trans Pennine Trail.