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Northern England and adjoining areas, showing the general extent of the Pennines Pennines location map.png
Northern England and adjoining areas, showing the general extent of the Pennines
Scenery in the Forest of Bowland Clougha heather.jpg
Scenery in the Forest of Bowland

The Pennines ( /ˈpɛnnz/ ), also known as the Pennine Chain or Pennine Hills, [1] are a range of mountains and hills in England separating North West England from Yorkshire and North East England.

Mountain A large landform that rises fairly steeply above the surrounding land over a limited area

A mountain is a large landform that rises above the surrounding land in a limited area, usually in the form of a peak. A mountain is generally steeper than a hill. Mountains are formed through tectonic forces or volcanism. These forces can locally raise the surface of the earth. Mountains erode slowly through the action of rivers, weather conditions, and glaciers. A few mountains are isolated summits, but most occur in huge mountain ranges.

Hill Landform that extends above the surrounding terrain

A hill is a landform that extends above the surrounding terrain. It often has a distinct summit, although in areas with scarp/dip topography a hill may refer to a particular section of flat terrain without a massive summit.

North West England region of England in United Kingdom

North West England, one of nine official regions of England, consists of the five counties of Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside. The North West had a population of 7,052,000 in 2011. It is the third-most-populated region in the United Kingdom after the South East and Greater London. The largest settlements are Manchester, Liverpool, Warrington, Preston, Blackpool and Chester.


Often described as the "backbone of England", [2] [3] [4] the Pennine Hills form a more-or-less continuous range in most of Northern England. The range stretches northwards from the Peak District in the northern Midlands, through the South Pennines, Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines up to the Tyne Gap, which separates the range from the Cheviot Hills. Some definitions of the Pennines also include the Cheviot Hills across the Anglo-Scottish border while excluding the southern Peak District. South of the Aire Gap is a western spur into east Lancashire, comprising the Rossendale Fells, West Pennine Moors [5] and the Bowland Fells in North Lancashire. [6] The Howgill Fells [7] and Orton Fells [8] in Cumbria are sometimes considered to be Pennine spurs to the west of the range. The Pennines are an important water catchment area with numerous reservoirs in the head streams of the river valleys.

Vertebral column bony structure found in vertebrates

The vertebral column, also known as the backbone or spine, is part of the axial skeleton. The vertebral column is the defining characteristic of a vertebrate in which the notochord found in all chordates has been replaced by a segmented series of bone: vertebrae separated by intervertebral discs. The vertebral column houses the spinal canal, a cavity that encloses and protects the spinal cord.

Northern England Place in England

Northern England, also known as the North of England or simply the North, is the northern part of England, considered as a single cultural area. It extends from the Scottish border in the north to near the River Trent in the south, although precise definitions of its southern extent vary. Northern England approximately comprises three statistical regions: the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber. These have a combined population of around 14.9 million as of the 2011 Census and an area of 37,331 km2. Northern England contains much of England's national parkland but also has large areas of urbanisation, including the conurbations of Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Teesside, Tyneside, Wearside, and South and West Yorkshire.

Peak District Upland area in England

The Peak District is an upland area in England at the southern end of the Pennines. It is mostly in northern Derbyshire, but also includes parts of Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Staffordshire, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire. An area of great diversity, it is mostly split into the Dark Peak, where most of the moorland is found and the geology is gritstone, and the limestone area of the White Peak.

The region is widely considered to be one of the most scenic areas of the United Kingdom. [9] The North Pennines and Nidderdale are designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) within the range, as are Bowland and Pendle Hill. [10] Parts of the Pennines are incorporated into the Peak District National Park and the Yorkshire Dales National Park. [11] Britain's oldest long-distance footpath, the Pennine Way, runs along most of the Pennine Chain and is 268 miles (429 km) long. [12]

Nidderdale mountain range

Nidderdale, historically also known as Netherdale, is one of the Yorkshire Dales in North Yorkshire, England. It is the upper valley of the River Nidd, which flows south underground and then along the dale, forming several reservoirs including the Gouthwaite Reservoir, before turning east and eventually joining the River Ouse.

Forest of Bowland area in northeast Lancashire, England

The Forest of Bowland, also known as the Bowland Fells, is an area of barren gritstone fells, deep valleys and peat moorland, mostly in north-east Lancashire, England with a small part in North Yorkshire. It is a western spur of the Pennines and was once described as the "Switzerland of England".

Pendle Hill mountain in the United Kingdom

Pendle Hill is in the east of Lancashire, England, near the towns of Burnley, Nelson, Colne, Clitheroe and Padiham. Its summit is 557 metres (1,827 ft) above mean sea level. It gives its name to the Borough of Pendle. It is an isolated hill, separated from the Pennines to the east, the Bowland Fells to the northwest, and the West Pennine Moors to the south. It is included in detached part of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


Stanage Edge in the Peak District Stanage Edge.jpg
Stanage Edge in the Peak District

Various etymologies have been proposed treating "Pennine" as though it were a native Brittonic/Modern Welsh name related to pen- ("head") . [14] It did not become a common name until the 18th century and almost certainly derives from modern comparisons with the Apennine Mountains, which run down the middle of Italy in a similar fashion. [13]

Common Brittonic was an ancient Celtic language spoken in Britain. It is also variously known as Old Brittonic, British, and Common or Old Brythonic. By the sixth century AD, this language of the Celtic Britons had split into the various Neo-Brittonic languages: Welsh, Cumbric, Cornish, Breton and probably the Pictish language.

Welsh language Brythonic language spoken natively in Wales

Welsh ; [kʰəmˈraiɡ](listen)) or y Gymraeg is a Brittonic language of the Celtic branch of the Indo-European language family. It is spoken natively in Wales, by some in England, and in Y Wladfa. Historically, it has also been known in English as "Cambrian", "Cambric" and "Cymric".

Apennine Mountains Mountain range stretching 1000 km from the north to the south of Italy along its east coast, traversing the entire peninsula, and forming the backbone of the country

The Apennines or Apennine Mountains are a mountain range consisting of parallel smaller chains extending c. 1,200 km (750 mi) along the length of peninsular Italy. In the northwest they join with the Ligurian Alps at Altare. In the southwest they end at Reggio di Calabria, the coastal city at the tip of the peninsula. Since 2000 the Environment Ministry of Italy, following the recommendations of the Apennines Park of Europe Project, has been defining the Apennines System to include the mountains of north Sicily, for a total distance of 1,500 kilometres (930 mi). The system forms an arc enclosing the east side of the Ligurian and Tyrrhenian Seas.

Following an 1853 article by Arthur Hussey, [15] it has become a common belief that the name derives from a passage in The Description of Britain (Latin : De Situ Britanniæ), [17] an infamous historical forgery concocted by Charles Bertram in the 1740s and accepted as genuine until the 1840s. In 2004, George Redmonds reassessed this, finding that numerous respected writers passed over the origin of the mountains' name in silence even in works dedicated to the topological etymology of Derbyshire and Lancashire. [13] He found that the derivation from Bertram was widely believed and considered uncomfortable. [13] In fact, he found repeated comparisons going back at least as early as Camden, [18] many of whose placenames and ideas Bertram incorporated into his work. Bertram was responsible (at most) with popularizing the name against other contenders such as Daniel Defoe's "English Andes". [13] His own form of the name was the "Pennine Alps" (Alpes Peninos), which today is used for a western section of the continental Alps. Those mountains (the area around the St. Bernard Pass) derive their name from the Latin Alpes Pœninæ whose name has been variously derived from the Carthaginians, [19] a local god, [20] and Celtic peninus. [21] The St. Bernard Pass was the pass used in the invasions of Italy by the Gallic Boii and Lingones in 390 BC. The etymology of the Apennines themselves—whose name first referred to their northern extremity and then later spread southward—is also disputed but is usually taken to derive from some form of Celtic pen or ben ("mountain, head"). [22] [23] [24] [25]

Arthur Duncan "Art" Hussey was an American golfer who competed in the 1904 Summer Olympics.

The Description of Britain, also known by its Latin name De Situ Britanniae, was a literary forgery perpetrated by Charles Bertram on the historians of England. It purported to be a 15th-century manuscript by the English monk Richard of Westminster, including information from a lost contemporary account of Britain by a Roman general, new details of the Roman roads in Britain in the style of the Antonine Itinerary, and "an antient map" as detailed as the works of Ptolemy. Bertram disclosed the existence of the work through his correspondence with the antiquarian William Stukeley by 1748, provided him "a copy" which was made available in London by 1749, and published it in Latin in 1757. By this point, his Richard had become conflated with the historical Richard of Cirencester. The text was treated as a legitimate and major source of information on Roman Britain from the 1750s through the 19th century, when it was progressively debunked by John Hodgson, Karl Wex, B. B. Woodward, and J. E. B. Mayor. Effects from the forgery can still be found in works on British history and it is generally credited with having named the Pennine Mountains.

Literary forgery is writing, such as a manuscript or a literary work, which is either deliberately misattributed to a historical or invented author, or is a purported memoir or other presumably nonfictional writing deceptively presented as true when, in fact, it presents untrue or imaginary information.

Various towns and geographical features within the Pennines retain Celtic names, including Penrith, the fell Pen-y-ghent, the River Eden, and the area of Cumbria. More commonly, local names result from later Anglo-Saxon and Norse settlements. In Yorkshire and Cumbria, many words of Norse origin, not commonly used in standard English, are part of everyday speech: for example, gill/ghyll (narrow steep valley), beck (brook or stream), fell (hill), and dale (valley). [26]

Penrith, Cumbria town in Cumbria, England

Penrith is a market town and civil parish in the county of Cumbria, England. Penrith lies less than 3 miles (5 km) outside the boundaries of the Lake District National Park. Historically a part of Cumberland, Penrith's local authority is currently Eden District Council, which is based in the town. Penrith was formerly the seat of both Penrith Urban and Rural District Councils. From 1974 to 2015, Penrith had no town council of its own, and was an unparished area. A civil parish of Penrith was recreated in 2015. Penrith Town Council was formed in 2015 and the first elections to the council took place on May 7, 2015.

Pen-y-ghent mountain in the United Kingdom

Pen-y-ghent or Penyghent is a fell in the Yorkshire Dales, England. It is the smallest of the Yorkshire Three Peaks at 2,277 feet (694 m); the other two being Ingleborough and Whernside. It lies 1.9 miles (3 km) east of Horton in Ribblesdale. It features a number of interesting geological features such as Hunt Pot, and further down, Hull Pot. The waters that flow in have created an extensive cave system which rises at Brants Gill head.

River Eden, Cumbria river that flows through the Eden District of Cumbria, England

The River Eden is a river that flows through the Eden District of Cumbria, England, on its way to the Solway Firth.


Croasdale Fell, Forest of Bowland. Croasdale Bowland.jpg
Croasdale Fell, Forest of Bowland.

The northern Pennine range is bordered by the foothills of the Lake District, and uplands of the Howgill Fells, Orton Fells and Cheviot Hills. The West Pennine Moors, Rossendale Valley [5] and Forest of Bowland [6] are western spurs of the range, the former two of which are included as part of the South Pennines. The Howgill Fells [7] and Orton Fells [8] are sometimes considered to be part of the Pennines, with both of them lying inside the Yorkshire Dales National Park. [27] The Pennines are fringed by extensive lowlands including the Eden Valley, West Lancashire Coastal Plain, Cheshire Plain, Vale of York, and the Midland Plains.

Most of the Pennine landscape is characterised by upland areas of high moorland indented by more fertile river valleys, although the landscape varies in different areas. The Peak District consists of hilly plateaus, uplands and valleys, divided into the Dark Peak with moorlands and gritstone edges, and the White Peak with limestone gorges. [28] The South Pennines is an area of hilly landscape and moorlands with narrow valleys between the Peak District, Forest of Bowland and Yorkshire Dales. [29] Bowland is dominated by a central upland landform of deeply incised gritstone fells covered with tracts of heather-covered peat moorland, blanket bog and steep-sided wooded valleys linking the upland and lowland landscapes. [30] The landscape is higher and more mountainous in the Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines. The Yorkshire Dales are characterised by moorlands, valleys, hills, fells and mountains [31] while the North Pennines consist of high upland plateaus, moorlands, fells, edges and valleys with most of the area containing flat topped hills while the higher peaks are in the western half.

Although the Pennines mostly cover the area between the Tyne Gap and the Peak District, the presence of the Pennine Way affects the northern and southern extents of the defined area. The Cheviot Hills, separated by the Tyne Gap and the Whin Sill, along which run the A69 and Hadrian's Wall, are not part of the Pennines but, perhaps because the Pennine Way crosses them, they are often treated as such. As a result, the northern end of the Pennines may be considered to be either at the Tyne Gap or the Cheviot Hills across the Anglo-Scottish border. Conversely the southern end of the Pennines is commonly said to be in the High Peak of Derbyshire at Edale, the start of the Pennine Way, excluding the southern Peak District. However, the range and its foothills continue across the Peak District as far south as Stoke-on-Trent in northern Staffordshire [32] and Derby in southern Derbyshire. [33]


Rising less than 3,000 feet (900 m), the Pennines are often referred to as fells, with the majority of mountainous terrain in the north. The highest is Cross Fell in eastern Cumbria, at 2,930 feet (893 m), while other principal peaks at the North Pennines include Great Dun Fell 2,782 ft (848 m), Mickle Fell 2,585 ft (788 m), and Burnhope Seat 2,451 ft (747 m). Principal peaks at the Yorkshire Dales include Whernside 2,415 ft (736 m), Ingleborough 2,372 ft (723 m), High Seat 2,328 ft (710 m), Wild Boar Fell 2,324 ft (708 m) and Pen-y-ghent 2,274 ft (693 m). Principal peaks at the Forest of Bowland include Ward's Stone 1,841 ft (561 m), Fair Snape Fell 1,710 ft (521 m), and Hawthornthwaite Fell 1,572 ft (479 m). Although terrain is lower towards the south, principal peaks at the South Pennines and Peak District include Kinder Scout 2,087 ft (636 m), Bleaklow 2,077 ft (633 m), Black Chew Head 1,778 ft (542 m), Rombalds Moor 1,319 ft (402 m) and Winter Hill 1,496 ft (456 m).


Kinder Downfall, a waterfall on Kinder Scout, Dark Peak Kinder Downfall in spate.jpg
Kinder Downfall, a waterfall on Kinder Scout, Dark Peak

For much of their length the Pennines form the main watershed in northern England, dividing east and west. The rivers Eden, Ribble, Dane and tributaries of the Mersey (including the Irwell, Tame and Goyt) flow westwards towards the Irish Sea. On the eastern side of the watershed, the rivers Tyne, Tees, Wear, Swale, Ure, Nidd, Wharfe, Aire, Calder and Don rise in the region and flow eastwards to the North Sea. The River Trent, however, rises on the western side of the Pennines before flowing around the southern end of the range and up the eastern side; together with its tributaries (principally the Dove and Derwent) it thus drains both east and west sides of the southern end to the North Sea.


The Pennine climate is generally temperate like that of the rest of England, but the hills have more precipitation, stronger winds and colder weather than the surrounding areas. Higher elevations have a tundra climate. More snow falls on the Pennines than on surrounding lowland areas due to the elevation and distance from the coast; unlike lowland areas of England, the Pennines can have quite severe winters.

The northwest is amongst the wettest regions of England and much of the rain falls on the Pennines. The eastern side is drier than the west—the rain shadow shields northeast England from rainfall that would otherwise fall there.

Precipitation is important for the area's biodiversity and human population. Many towns and cities are located along rivers flowing from the hills and in northwest England the lack of natural aquifers is compensated for by reservoirs.

Water has carved out gorges, caves and limestone landscapes in the Yorkshire Dales and Peak District. In some areas precipitation has contributed to poor soils, resulting in part in moorland landscapes that characterize much of the range. In other areas where the soil has not been degraded, it has resulted in lush vegetation.

For the purpose of growing plants, the Pennines are in hardiness zones 7 and 8, as defined by the USDA. Zone 8 is common throughout most of the UK, and zone 7 is the UK's coldest hardiness zone. The Pennines, Scottish Highlands, Southern Uplands and Snowdonia are the only areas of the UK in zone 7.

Climate data for Great Dun Fell, North Pennines (848 m) 1981–2010
Average high °C (°F)1.5
Average low °C (°F)−2.6
Source: Met Office [34]


Limestone scenery: Thor's Cave, Staffordshire, from the Manifold Way. Limestone is common in the White Peak and Yorkshire Dales, making those areas distinct from other parts of the Pennines. Thor's cave.jpg
Limestone scenery: Thor's Cave, Staffordshire, from the Manifold Way. Limestone is common in the White Peak and Yorkshire Dales, making those areas distinct from other parts of the Pennines.

The Pennines have been carved from a series of geological structures whose overall form is a broad anticline whose axis extends in a north–south direction. The North Pennines are coincident with the Alston Block, whilst the Yorkshire Dales are coincident with the Askrigg Block. In the south the Peak District is essentially a flat-topped dome. Each of these structures consists of Carboniferous limestone overlain with Millstone Grit. The limestone is exposed at the surface in the North Pennines and Yorkshire Dales to the north of the range and the Peak District to the south. In the Yorkshire Dales and the White Peak the limestone exposure has led to the formation of large cave systems and watercourses.

In the Dales the caves or potholes are known as "pots" in the Yorkshire dialect. They include some of the largest caves in England at Gaping Gill, more than 350 ft (107 m) deep and Rowten Pot, 365 ft (111 m) deep. Titan in the Peak District, the deepest shaft known in Britain, is connected to Peak Cavern in Castleton, Derbyshire, the largest cave entrance in the country. Erosion of the limestone has led to some unusual geological formations, such as the limestone pavements at Malham Cove. Between the northern and southern areas of exposed limestone (between Skipton and the Dark Peak) lies a narrow belt of exposed gritstone. Here the shales and sandstones of the Millstone Grit form high hills occupied by a moorland of bracken, peat, heather and coarse grasses; [35] the higher ground is uncultivable and barely fit for pasture.


A prehistoric settlement on Harkerside Moor in Swaledale. Harkerside Moor.jpg
A prehistoric settlement on Harkerside Moor in Swaledale.

The area contains many Bronze Age settlements, and evidence of Neolithic settlement (including many stone circles or henges, such as Long Meg and Her Daughters). [36]

The Pennines were controlled by the tribal federation of the Brigantes, made up of mainly small tribes who inhabited the area and cooperated on defence and external affairs. The Brigantes evolved an early form of kingdom. During Roman times, the Brigantes were dominated by the Romans who exploited the Pennines for their natural resources including the wild animals found there.

The Pennines were a major obstacle for Anglo-Saxon expansion westwards, although it appears the Anglo-Saxons travelled through the valleys. During the Dark Ages the Pennines were controlled by Celtic and Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. It is believed that the north Pennines were under the control of the kingdom of Rheged.

During Norse times the Pennines were settled by Viking Danes in the east and Norwegian Vikings in the west. The Vikings influenced place names, culture and genetics. When England was unified the Pennines were incorporated into it. Their mixture of Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Viking heritage resembled much of the rest of northern England and its culture developed alongside its lowland neighbours in northwest and northeast England. The Pennines were not a distinct political polity, but were divided between neighbouring counties in northeast and northwest England; a major part was in the West Riding of Yorkshire.


The Pennine region is sparsely populated by English standards. Larger population centres adjoin the southern Pennine range, such as Barnsley, Chesterfield, Halifax, Huddersfield, Macclesfield, Oldham, Rochdale, and Stockport but most of the northern Pennine range is thinly populated. [37] The cities of Bradford, Derby, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Stoke-on-Trent and Wakefield lie in the foothills and lowlands fringing the range.


The main economic activities in the Pennines include sheep farming, quarrying, finance and tourism. In the Peak District, tourism is the major local employment for park residents (24%), with manufacturing industries (19%) and quarrying (12%) also being important while 12% are employed in agriculture. [38] Limestone is the most important mineral quarried, mainly for roads and cement, while other extracted materials include shale for cement and gritstone for building stone. [39] The springs at Buxton and Ashbourne are exploited to produce bottled mineral water and there are approximately 2,700 farms in the National Park. [40] The South Pennines are predominantly industrial, with the main industries including textiles, quarrying and mining, [41] while other economic activities within the South Pennines include tourism and farming. [42]

Although the Forest of Bowland is mostly rural, the main economic activities in the area include farming [43] and tourism. [44] In the Yorkshire Dales, tourism accounts for £350 million of expenditure every year while employment is mostly dominated by farming, accommodation and food sectors. There are also significant challenges for managing tourism, farming and other developments within the National Park. [45] The main economic activities in the North Pennines include tourism, farming, timber and small-scale quarrying, due to the rural landscape. [46]


The Pennines are traversed by several passes, mostly aligned with major rivers. Gaps through Pennine Mountains UK topographic map.gif
The Pennines are traversed by several passes, mostly aligned with major rivers.

Gaps that allow west–east communication across the Pennines include the Tyne Gap between the Pennines and the Cheviots, through which the A69 road and Tyne Valley railway link Carlisle and Newcastle upon Tyne. The A66 road, its summit at 1,450 feet (440 m), follows the course of a Roman road from Scotch Corner to Penrith through the Stainmore Gap between the Eden Valley in Cumbria and Teesdale in County Durham. The Aire Gap links Lancashire and Yorkshire via the valleys of the Aire and Ribble. Other high-level roads include Buttertubs Pass, named from limestone potholes near its 1,729-foot (527 m) summit, between Hawes in Wensleydale and Swaledale and the A684 road from Sedbergh to Hawes via Garsdale Head which reaches 1,100 feet (340 m). [47]

Further south the A58 road traverses the Calder Valley between West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester reaching 1,282 feet (391 m) between Littleborough and Ripponden, while the A646 road along the Calder Valley between Burnley and Halifax reaches 764 feet (233 m) following valley floors. In the Peak District the A628 Woodhead road links the M67 motorway in Greater Manchester with the M1 motorway in South Yorkshire and Holme Moss is crossed by the A6024 road, whose highest point is near Holme Moss transmitting station between Longdendale and Holmfirth. [47]

The Pennines are traversed by the M62 motorway, the highest motorway in England at 1,221 feet (372 m) on Windy Hill near Junction 23. [47]

Three trans-Pennine canals built during the Industrial Revolution cross the range:

The eastern portal of Woodhead 3 shortly before opening in 1954 Woodhead New Tunnel 1735891.jpg
The eastern portal of Woodhead 3 shortly before opening in 1954
A train in British Rail blue about to enter the western portal of Woodhead 3, shortly before closure in 1981 Class 76 locomotives 76033 and 76031 at Woodhead on 24th March 1981.jpeg
A train in British Rail blue about to enter the western portal of Woodhead 3, shortly before closure in 1981
Photograph from 1953, showing the western portals of Woodhead 1&2 in the background, with Woodhead 3 under construction in the foreground Woodhead tunnels western portals 2048400.jpg
Photograph from 1953, showing the western portals of Woodhead 1&2 in the background, with Woodhead 3 under construction in the foreground

The first of the earlier twin tunnels (Woodhead 1 and 2) was completed by the Sheffield, Ashton-Under-Lyne and Manchester Railway in 1845, engineered by Charles Vignoles and Joseph Locke. At the time of its completion in 1845, Woodhead 1 was one of the world's longest railway tunnels at a length of 3 miles 13 yards (4,840 m); it was the first of several trans-Pennine tunnels including the Standedge and Totley tunnels, which are only slightly longer.

The first two tunnels were replaced by Woodhead 3, which was longer than the other two at 3 miles 66 yards (4860m). It was bored purposely for the overhead electrification of the route and completed in 1953. The tunnel was opened by the then transport minister Alan Lennox-Boyd on 3 June 1954. [49] It was designed by Sir William Halcrow & Partners. The line was closed in 1981.

The London and North Western Railway acquired the Huddersfield and Manchester Railway in 1847 and built a single-line tunnel parallel to the canal tunnel at Standedge with a length of 3 miles, 57 yards (4803 m). Today rail services along the Huddersfield line between Huddersfield and Victoria and Piccadilly stations in Manchester are operated by TransPennine Express and Northern. Between 1869 and 1876 the Midland Railway built the Settle-Carlisle Line through remote, scenic regions of the Pennines from near Settle to Carlisle passing Appleby-in-Westmorland and a number of other settlements, some a distance from their stations. The line has survived, despite difficult times [50] and is operated by Northern Rail. [51]

The Trans Pennine Trail, a long-distance route for cyclists, horse riders and walkers, runs west–east alongside rivers and canals, along disused railway tracks and through historic towns and cities from Southport to Hornsea (207 miles/333 km). [52] It crosses the north–south Pennine Way (268 miles/431 km) at Crowden-in-Longdendale.

National Parks and AONBs

The National Parks of England and Wales; two include areas of the Pennines, those marked as 7 and 1 National Parks in England and Wales.png
The National Parks of England and Wales; two include areas of the Pennines, those marked as 7 and 1

Considerable areas of Pennine landscape are protected as UK national parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are afforded much the same protection as national parks. The two national parks within the Pennines are the Yorkshire Dales National Park (7) and the Peak District National Park (1).

England, Wales and Northern Ireland AONBs. The Pennines host three, with a large one protecting the North Pennines. AONBSUK.png
England, Wales and Northern Ireland AONBs. The Pennines host three, with a large one protecting the North Pennines.

The North Pennines AONB just north of the Yorkshire Dales rivals the national park in size and includes some of the Pennines' highest peaks and some of its most isolated and sparsely populated areas while Nidderdale is an AONB east of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and the Bowland Fells, including Pendle Hill, is an AONB west of the Yorkshire Dales.


The language used in pre-Roman and Roman times was Common Brittonic. During the Early Middle Ages, the Cumbric language developed. Little evidence of Cumbric remains, so it is difficult to ascertain whether or not it was distinct from Old Welsh. The extent of the region in which Cumbric was spoken is also unknown.

During Anglo-Saxon times the area was settled by Anglian peoples of Mercia and Northumbria, rather than the Saxon people of Southern England. Celtic speech remained in most areas of the Pennines longer than it did in the surrounding areas of England. Eventually, the Celtic tongue of the Pennines was replaced by early English as Anglo-Saxons and Vikings settled the area and assimilated the Celts. [53]

In Norse times, Viking settlers brought their languages of Old Norse, Old Danish (mainly in the Yorkshire Dales and parts of the Peak District) and Old Norwegian (mainly in the western Pennines).[ citation needed ] With the eventual consolidation of England by the Saxon kingdom of Wessex, the pure Norse speech died out in England, though it survived in the Pennines longer than in most areas[ citation needed ]. However, the fusion of Norse and Old English was important in the formation of Middle English and hence Modern English, and many individual words of Norse descent remain in use in local dialects, such as that of Yorkshire, and in local place names.

Folklore and customs

The folklore and customs are mostly based on Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Viking customs and folklore.[ citation needed ] Many customs and stories have their origin in Christianised pagan traditions.[ citation needed ] In the Peak District, a notable custom is well dressing, which has its origin in pagan traditions that became Christianised. [54]


Flora in the Pennines is adapted to moorland and subarctic landscapes and climates. The flora found there can be found in other areas of moorland in Northern Europe and some species are also found in areas of tundra.

In the Pennine millstone grit areas above an altitude of 900 feet (270 m) the topsoil is so acidic, pH 2 to 4, that it can grow only bracken, heather, sphagnum, and coarse grasses [35] such as cottongrass, purple moor grass and heath rush. [55]

As the Ice age glacial sheets retreated c. 11,500 BC trees returned and archaeological palynology can identify their species. The first trees to settle were willow, birch and juniper, followed later by alder and pine. By 6500 BC temperatures were warmer and woodlands covered 90% of the dales with mostly pine, elm, lime and oak. On the limestone soils the oak was slower to colonize and pine and birch predominated. Around 3000 BC a noticeable decline in tree pollen indicates that neolithic farmers were clearing woodland to increase grazing for domestic livestock, and studies at Linton Mires and Eshton Tarn find an increase in grassland species. [56]

On poorly drained impermeable areas of millstone grit, shale or clays the topsoil gets waterlogged in winter and spring. Here tree suppression combined with the heavier rainfall results in blanket bog up to 7 ft (2 m) thick. The erosion of peat still exposes stumps of ancient trees. [56]

In digging it away they frequently find vast fir trees, perfectly sound, and some oaks ...

Arthur Young, A Six Months' Tour of the North of England (1771) [57]


Shooting of red grouse is an economically important activity in the Pennines. Two grouse "picked" after the previous day's shoot. - - 547403.jpg
Shooting of red grouse is an economically important activity in the Pennines.

Fauna in the Pennines is similar to the rest of England and Wales, but the area hosts some specialised species. Deer are found throughout the Pennines and some species of animals that are rare elsewhere in England can be found here. Arctic hares, which were common in Britain during the Ice Age and retreated to the cooler, more tundra-like uplands once the climate warmed up, were introduced to the Dark Peak area of the Peak District in the 19th century.

Large areas of heather moorland in the Pennines are managed for driven shooting of wild red grouse. The related and declining black grouse is still found in northern parts of the Pennines. Other birds whose English breeding strongholds are in the Pennines include golden plover, snipe, curlew, dunlin, merlin, short-eared owl, ring ouzel and twite, [58] though many of these are at the southern limit of their distributions and are more common in Scotland.

See also

Related Research Articles

Yorkshire Dales Upland area of the Pennines in Northern England

The Yorkshire Dales is an upland area of the Pennines in the historic county of Yorkshire, most of it in the Yorkshire Dales National Park created in 1954.

Pennine Way walking path

The Pennine Way is a National Trail in England, with a small section in Scotland. The trail runs 268 miles (431 km) from Edale, in the northern Derbyshire Peak District, north through the Yorkshire Dales and the Northumberland National Park and ends at Kirk Yetholm, just inside the Scottish border. The path runs along the Pennine hills, sometimes described as the "backbone of England". Although not the United Kingdom's longest National Trail, it is according to the Ramblers' Association "one of Britain's best known and toughest".

Dark Peak

The Dark Peak is the higher and wilder part of the Peak District in England, mostly forming the northern Peak District but also extends south into its eastern and western margins. It is mainly in Derbyshire and parts of Staffordshire, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire.

Yorkshire Three Peaks mountains in the United Kingdom

The hills of Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent are collectively known as the Three Peaks. The peaks, which form part of the Pennine range, encircle the head of the valley of the River Ribble in the Yorkshire Dales National Park in the North of England.

Moorland type of habitat found in upland areas with (sometimes marshy) poor acid soil and overgrown with low vegetation

Moorland or moor is a type of habitat found in upland areas in temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands and montane grasslands and shrublands biomes, characterised by low-growing vegetation on acidic soils. Moorland nowadays generally means uncultivated hill land, but includes low-lying wetlands. It is closely related to heath although experts disagree on precisely what distinguishes the types of vegetation. Generally, moor refers to highland, high rainfall zones, whereas heath refers to lowland zones which are more likely to be the result of human activity.

Mickle Fell mountain in the United Kingdom

Mickle Fell is a mountain in the Pennines, the range of hills and moors running down the middle of Northern England. It is 2,585 feet (788 m) high and lies slightly off the main watershed of the Pennines, about ten miles south of Cross Fell.

Millstone Grit

Millstone Grit is the name given to any of a number of coarse-grained sandstones of Carboniferous age which occur in the British Isles. The name derives from its use in earlier times as a source of millstones for use principally in watermills. Geologists refer to the whole suite of rocks that encompass the individual limestone beds and the intervening mudstones as the Millstone Grit Group. The term Millstone Grit Series was formerly used to refer to the rocks now included within the Millstone Grit Group together with the underlying Edale Shale Group.

Baugh Fell mountain

Baugh Fell is a large, flat-topped hill in the northern Pennines of England. It lies in the north-western corner of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, immediately to the east of the Howgill Fells and to the north of Whernside, the highest of the Yorkshire Three Peaks. Formerly in the West Riding of Yorkshire, since 1974 it has been part of the county of Cumbria.

Boulsworth Hill mountain in United Kingdom

Boulsworth Hill is a large expanse of moorland, the highest point of the South Pennines of south-eastern Lancashire, England, separating the Borough of Pendle from Calderdale.

Mountains and hills of England

The mountains and hills of England comprise very different kinds of terrain, from a mountain range which reaches almost 1,000 metres high, to several smaller areas of lower mountains, foothills and sea cliffs. Most of the major upland areas have been designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or national parks. The highest and most extensive areas are in the north and west, while the south-east and east of the country tend to be low-lying. The Lake District is near the coast and is famous for collecting precious gems.

South Pennines

The South Pennines is a region of moorland and hill country in northern England lying towards the southern end of the Pennines. In the west it includes the Rossendale Valley and the West Pennine Moors. It is bounded by the Greater Manchester conurbation in the west and the Bowland Fells and Yorkshire Dales to the north. To the east it is fringed by the towns of West Yorkshire whilst to the south it is bounded by the Peak District. The rural South Pennine Moors constitutes both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation.

The Durham Dales is the name given to a large area of landscape in the west of County Durham, consisting primarily of the Durham portion of the North Pennines, in England.

Cheviot Hills mountain

The Cheviot Hills are a range of uplands straddling the Anglo-Scottish border between Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. The English section is within the Northumberland National Park. The range includes The Cheviot, plus Hedgehope Hill to the east, Windy Gyle to the west, and Cushat Law and Bloodybush Edge to the south.

Aire Gap

Aire Gap is a pass through the Pennines in England formed by geologic faults and carved out by glaciers. The term is used to describe a geological division, a travel route, or a location that is an entry into the Aire river valley.

The Natural Areas of England are regions, officially designated by Natural England, each with a characteristic association of wildlife and natural features. More formally, they are defined as "biogeographic zones which reflect the geological foundation, the natural systems and processes and the wildlife in different parts of England...".

A National Character Area (NCA) is a natural subdivision of England based on a combination of landscape, biodiversity, geodiversity and economic activity. There are 159 National Character Areas and they follow natural, rather than administrative, boundaries. They are defined by Natural England, the UK government's advisors on the natural environment.

South Pennines Regional Park

The South Pennines Regional Park is a proposed National Park that would cover the South Pennines area in Northern England. The park would cover a large swathe of Northern England and encompass parts of Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire. It would also adjoin the borders of two existing national parks; the Yorkshire Dales in the north and the Peak District in the south. The area was named as a prospective national park in the 1940s when the idea of creating national parks was being carried forward, but it was never given the same status as the Peak District, North York Moors or the Yorkshire Dales.

The Orton Fells is an upland area in Northern England, mostly consisting of limestone hills, plateaus and moorlands. Historically in Westmorland, the area lies within the modern county of Cumbria and is bounded by the Lake District to the west, the Eden Valley to the north and east, and the Yorkshire Dales and Howgill Fells to the south. The area mostly falls within the boundaries of the Yorkshire Dales National Park while a small part of the western fells is in the Lake District National Park. The fells are one of 159 National Character Areas defined by Natural England.


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