On Countryfile this Sunday: South Pennines

This Sunday the Countryfile team are exploring the Southern Pennines. Find out more about the Pennine way, which runs through the backbone of England

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Things to do:

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Pennine Way: One of the best upland walks in England, the Pennine way stretches 268 miles over the Pennine mountain tops that form the ‘backbone’ of England. You can spend as little or as long as you like enjoying the scenery on the Pennine Way, but for those looking for a more structured walk that takes into account as much of the Pennine’s amazing scenery as is possible in five days, should look no further than the Pennines Highlight walk.

Wildlife and nature:

Red Grouse: Living in the moorland all year round, this is one of the easier of the Pennines’ impressive selection of birdlife to witness. Feeding almost exclusively on heather, moorland managers burn strips of heather in order to promote fresh growth on the commercial Grouse moors.

Twite: Often called the Pennine finch, the Twite is a bird in danger, and now only breeds in the South Pennines. Look out for some of the 100 breeding pairs that remain amongst the patches of bracken and heather. If you’d like to get involved in helping the Twite, The RSPB is currently running a Twite recovery project.

Short-eared Owl: One of the easier of Britain’s owl species to see because it hunts partly in the day, look out for their piercing yellow eyes patrolling the moorland from fence posts.

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Merlin: The Pennines are one of the Merlin’s best breeding grounds but you’ll be lucky just to catch a glimpse of the compact figure of Britain’s smallest bird of prey swooping just over the sprigs of heather.

Dunlin and Golden Plover: Be on the look out for these two waders that breed almost exclusively on the high moors here. Dunlin are a very elusive species but the best place to find them is in peaty pools of blanket bog. The Golden Plover is a larger and more abundant here and tend to venture out into the drier areas of heater moorland much more willingly. It is certainly worth waiting for the Golden Plover’s striking breeding plumage with gold speckled back.

Towns and Villages:

Haworth: Right on the edge of the Pennine moors in West Yorkshire, Haworth has become affectionately known as ‘Bronte country’, made famous by the famous sisters.Take the walk to the famous Bronte waterfall.

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Ilkley: The idyllic village of Ilkley boasts a busy schedule year round. Sample Ilkley’s vintage shopping experience, which includes The Grove Bookshop, one of the North’s most renowned independent bookstores. Also take a trip to Ilkley Moor, complete with strange stone carvings as well as the historic Manor House Museum, where the Victorian’s establishment of Ilkley as a spa town is documented.

Hollingworth Lake: On the outskirts of the Lancashire town of Littleborough, which straddles the border between Yorkshire and Lancashire, Hollingworth lake offers a range of leisure and recreational activities. Boats and a selection of water sports equipment is available for hire on the lake. The lake is also stocked with fish; permits are sold at the visitor centre. The 1.5 mile walk around the lake, complete with a bird hide, is a relaxing stroll but guided walks and cycle rides exploring the surrounding countryside also operate from the foot of Blackstone Edge.

Other activities:

Walking: The Yorkshire/Lancashire border, with its heather moorland and wooded valleys, offers some of the finest walking to be found in all of England.

Cycling and mountain biking: The south Pennine area offers a range of challenging mountain bike and cycling routes to suit all tastes.

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Horse riding: Riding can be one of the best ways to experience the south Pennines. The Walk and Ride website details a variety of routes through beautiful countryside and the website is always looking for people to let them know about potential new routes.