The National Trail was started by two American girls, who in 1935 wrote to the Daily Herald newspaper asking for advice on a walking trip in England.
They asked if there was anything similar to the American Appalachian Path in England. The somewhat shameful reply was no. Then a journalist, who was a walker and future secretary of the Ramblers’ Association, recognized the wilds of the Pennines as an amazing place for such a trail and memorably introduced the idea in the same newspaper. ‘Wanted – a long green path’ was the headline and he named it ‘A Pennine Way from the Peak to the Cheviots.’
At the time, a lot of upland areas was legally out of bounds to outdoor types, regardless of being public land. A groundswell of frustration had resulted in the Mass Trespass on Kinder Scout in April 1932, and Stephenson hoped to use the Pennine Way idea as a crowbar to break open the moorlands of the Peak District and South Pennines. Both of Stephenson’s wishes would finally come true, but he would fight for another 30 years for the Pennine Way to become official.
The Pennine Way was opened on 24th April 1965 and two thousand hikers gathered on Malham Moor for the event. This was the UK’s first national trail to be introduced.