Pennines /ˈpɛnaɪnz/, also known as the Pennine Chain or Pennine
Hills, are a range of mountains and hills in England separating
North West England
North West England from
Yorkshire and North East England.
Often described as the "backbone of England", the Pennine
Hills form a more-or-less continuous range stretching northwards from
Peak District in the northern Midlands, through the South
Yorkshire Dales and
North Pennines up to the Tyne Gap, which
separates the range from the Cheviot Hills. South of the
Aire Gap is a
western spur into east Lancashire, comprising the Rossendale Fells,
West Pennine Moors and the Bowland Fells in North Lancashire.
Howgill Fells in
Cumbria are sometimes considered to be a Pennine
spur to the west of the range. The
Pennines are an important water
catchment area with numerous reservoirs in the head streams of the
The region is widely considered to be one of the most scenic areas of
the United Kingdom. The
North Pennines and
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) within the
range, as are Bowland and Pendle Hill. Parts of the
incorporated into the
Peak District National Park and the Yorkshire
Dales National Park. Britain's oldest long-distance footpath, the
Pennine Way, runs along most of the Pennine Chain and is
268 miles (429 km) long.
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. However, hills continue towards southern
Derbyshire, northern Staffordshire, eastern Cheshire, and western
2 Geography and geology
7 National Parks and AONBs
9 Folklore and customs
12 See also
14 External links
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")
. In fact, 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
Following an 1853 article by Arthur Hussey, it has become a common
belief that the name derives from a passage in The Description of
Britain (Latin: De Situ Britanniæ), 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
Derbyshire and Lancashire. He found that the
derivation from Bertram was widely believed and considered
uncomfortable. In fact, he found repeated comparisons going back
at least as early as Camden, 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". 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 derive their name from the Latin
Alpes Pœninæ, the St Bernard Pass whose name has been variously
derived from the Carthaginians, a local god, and Celtic
peninus. This was also the pass used in the invasions of
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
Various towns and geographical features within the
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).
Geography and geology
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 northern Pennine range is bordered by the foothills of the Lake
District, and uplands of the
Howgill Fells and Tyne Gap. The Forest of
Bowland is a western spur while the Howgill Fells are sometimes
considered to be part of the Pennines. The
Pennines are fringed by
extensive lowlands including the Eden Valley, West
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, valleys, limestone gorges, moorlands and
gritstone edges within the White Peak, Dark Peak and South West
Peak. The moorlands of the
Dark Peak extend into the South
Pennines, a hilly landscape with narrow valleys between the Peak
Forest of Bowland
Forest of Bowland and
Yorkshire Dales. 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. The landscape becomes higher and more mountainous in
Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines. The
Yorkshire Dales are
characterised by moorlands, river valleys, hills, fells and
mountains 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
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
White Peak the limestone exposure has led to the formation of
large underground 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
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; the higher ground is uncultivable and barely
fit for pasture.
Rising less than 3,000 feet (900 m), the
Pennines are often
referred to as fells, with the majority of mountainous terrain lying
towards 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
Forest of Bowland include
Ward's Stone 1,841 ft
(561 m), Fair Snape
Fell 1,710 ft (521 m), and
Fell 1,572 ft (479 m). Although mountainous
terrain is rarer towards the south, principal peaks at the South
Peak District include
Kinder Scout 2,087 ft
Bleaklow 2,077 ft (633 m), Black Chew Head
1,778 ft (542 m),
Rombalds Moor 1,319 ft (402 m)
Hill 1,496 ft (456 m).
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. Some areas could be
Oceanic climate verging on
Subarctic climate and a small
Teesdale is classified as subarctic. 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,
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)
Average low °C (°F)
Source: Met Office
Croasdale Fell, Forest of Bowland.
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).
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
dominated by the Romans who exploited the
Pennines for their natural
resources including the wild animals found there.
Pennines were a major obstacle for
westwards, although it appears the
Anglo-Saxons travelled through the
valleys. During the Dark Ages the
Pennines were controlled by Celtic
Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. It is believed that the north
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,
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
Chesterfield, Halifax, Huddersfield, Macclesfield,
Rochdale, but most of the northern Pennine range is thinly
populated. The cities of Bradford, Derby, Leeds, Manchester,
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.
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. The springs at Buxton and Ashbourne are exploited to
produce bottled mineral water and there are approximately 2,700 farms
in the National Park. The
South Pennines are predominantly
industrial, with the main industries including textiles, quarrying and
mining, while other economic activities within the South Pennines
include tourism and farming.
Forest of Bowland
Forest of Bowland is mostly rural, the main economic
activities in the area include farming and tourism. 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. The main economic activities in the North Pennines
include tourism, farming, timber and small-scale quarrying, due to the
Pennines are traversed by several passes, mostly aligned with
Gaps that allow west–east communication across the
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
County Durham. The
Aire Gap links
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
A684 road from
Garsdale Head which reaches
1,100 feet (340 m).
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
South Pennines the A628
Woodhead road links the
M67 motorway in Greater
Manchester with the M1
motorway in South
Holme Moss is crossed by the A6024
road, whose highest point is near
Holme Moss transmitting station
Longdendale and Holmfirth.
Pennines are traversed by the M62 motorway, the highest motorway
in England at 1,221 feet (372 m) on Windy
Hill near Junction
Three trans-Pennine canals built during the Industrial Revolution
cross the range:
Huddersfield Narrow Canal connects
Huddersfield in the east with
Manchester in the west. When it reaches Marsden, it passes underneath
the hills through the Standedge Tunnel to Diggle. Fortnightly during
the summer season, one can pass through the tunnel on a public
Rochdale Canal crosses the
Pennines via Rochdale, connecting the
market town of
Sowerby Bridge with Manchester.
Liverpool Canal, the longest and most northerly of the
three, crosses the
Pennines via Skipton, Burnley,
Chorley and Wigan
Leeds in the east with
Liverpool in the west.
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
Photograph from 1953, showing the western portals of Woodhead 1&2
in the background, with Woodhead 3 under construction in the
The first of the earlier twin tunnels (Woodhead 1 and 2) was completed
by the Sheffield, Ashton-Under-Lyne and
Manchester Railway in 1845,
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. It was designed by Sir
William Halcrow &
Partners. The line was closed in 1981.
London and North Western Railway
London and North Western Railway acquired the
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
TransPennine Express and Northern. Between 1869 and 1876
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 and is operated by Northern Rail.
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
Hornsea (207 miles/333 km). It crosses the
Pennine Way (268 miles/431 km) at
National Parks and AONBs
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
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
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
England, Wales and Northern Ireland AONBs. The
Pennines host three,
with a large one protecting the North Pennines.
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
The language used in pre-Roman and Roman times was British. 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.
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
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
In Norse times,
Viking settlers brought their languages of Old Norse,
Old Danish (mainly in the
Yorkshire Dales and parts of the Peak
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,
Viking customs and folklore. Many customs and stories
have their origin in Christianised pagan traditions.
In the Peak District, a notable custom is well dressing, which has its
origin in pagan traditions that became Christianised.
Flora in the
Pennines is adapted to moorland and subarctic landscapes
and climates. The flora found there can be found in other areas of
Northern Europe and some species are also found in areas
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 such as
cottongrass, purple moor grass and heath rush.
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.
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.
"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
Shooting of red grouse is an economically important activity in the
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, though many of these are at the southern limit of their
distributions and are more common in Scotland.
Geography of England
Geology of the United Kingdom
Geology of Yorkshire
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^ Kelsall, Dennis; Kelsall, Jan (2008). The
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^ a b White, Robert (2005) . The
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^ Arthur Young (1771) A Six Months' Tour of the North of England
^ Gibbons; et al. (1993). The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain
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