Often described as ‘the backbone of England’, the Pennines are an almost continuous range of mountains and hills separating northwest England from Yorkshire and northeast England. The range runs from the Peak District in the south (in Derbyshire) to the Tyne Gap in Northumberland National Park in the north: a valley separating the Pennines from the Cheviots, which run along the Scottish-English Border. (Some definitions, however, do include the Cheviots as being part of the Pennines; for example, Windy Gyle – topped with cairn, boundary-marker, and historic-site Russel’s Cairn – is a Cheviot hill considered part of the Pennine Way.) The region is widely considered to be one of the most scenic areas of the United Kingdom - the North Pennines and Nidderdale both designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), as are Bowland and Pendle Hill.
The ancient, pre-Roman road known as the Maiden’s Way, connecting Teviotdale to Liddesdale, and running along roughly the same route as the Thieves’ Road, is thought to be the northern extension of a road of the same name, which crosses the Pennines (being part of the Pennine Way near Alston), passing near Bewcastle and on through the South Tyne valley.
Long inhabited, and long serving as a natural barrier to travel and conquest, the Pennine uplands contained Bronze Age settlements, and evidence even remains of Neolithic (late-Stone Age) settlement, including many stone circles and henges, such as the site called Long Meg and Her Daughters.
The peaks and valleys of the Pennines can, on a good day, be spied from the Borders.