The South Pennines

‘South Pennines’ is the name most commonly applied to the upland areas lying between the Peak District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks.  It’s actually a slightly inaccurate name for the area, as the Peak District forms the southernmost extremity of the Pennine chain.  Nevertheless, as a term, South Pennines has now become widely accepted, and for this reason we use it as the preferred name for the area.

The South Pennines actually forms a northwards extension of the Peak District, there being a continuous ridge of high moorland running from Longdendale (within the Peak District National Park), to Calderdale.  For this reason, the southern boundary of the area is not easy to delineate, and for the sake of convenience, we have adopted the Peak District National Park boundary.  The approximate coverage of the proposed National Park can be seen on the maps that can be viewed via the links below, although it should be noted that these are not intended in any way as detailed boundary maps.

In the north, the natural boundaries are much easier to define, the Aire and Ribble valleys possessing extensive tracts of low-lying farmland before the hills are reached once again.  To east and west, the industrial plains of Lancashire and Yorkshire make an obvious natural boundary for the area.

Like the Dark Peak, the upland landscape is largely dominated by millstone grit, topped with a thick layer of carbon-absorbent peat.  The lowlands are characterised by steep-sided valleys, through which run fast-flowing streams and rivers, best seen in Calderdale.  The area is an important habitat for wildlife, particularly moorland birds such as the red grouse and curlew, and is especially noteworthy as one of the few English breeding sites for the endangered twite.

Maps of the area

Please click here to download a map of the South Pennines Heritage Area.  Please note that this map downloads from an external website (

Please click here to download a map of the Forest of Pendle, currently part of the Forest of Bowland AONB, but which we advocate should become part of any future South Pennines National Park.  The Forest of Pendle is the detached part of the AONB shown in the lower right corner of the map.  Please note that this map downloads from an external website (

We also advocate that the area immediately between the South Pennines Heritage Area and the Forest of Pendle should be included in any National Park.  This area contains highly scenic stretches of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and the Pendle Way long distance footpath, as well as Weets Hill, one of the ‘Three Peaks of Pendle!’


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