That was about ten years after the Pennine Way was created so maybe it was still a novelty and the teachers hadn't seen the need for any better equipment. It was well before any thoughts on health and safety. People still set out on the Pennine Way woefully ill-equipped and prepared but for the most part they do have a much better idea of what they're letting themselves in for.
The Pennine Way became Britain's first National Trail in 1965. Today I found an article in a May 1942 copy of the then Yorkshire Dalesman. It reported on the founding of the Pennine Way Association in 1938 when it was agreed that a Pennine Way was desirable "in the national interest on the grounds of the physical and spiritual well-being of the youth of Britain." It was also agreed that "the wide, health-giving moorlands and high places of solitude, the features of natural beauty, and the places of historical interest along the Pennine Way give this route a special character and attractiveness which should be available for all time as a national heritage of the youth of the country and of all who feel the call of the hills and lonely places".
Today's Pennine Way runs along England's backbone for 268 miles from Edale in the Peak District northwards to Kirk Yetholm, with some of the most stunning highlights in the Yorkshire Dales. Thanks to hi-tech outdoor clothing, maps, signposts, better paths, and plenty of excellent accommodation and pubs en route, your chances of completing at least a decent stretch of the Pennine Way are definitely higher than mine in the 1970s! You do need to be properly prepared, plan carefully and take advice from experts and guides who know the challenging terrain well. You might consider using a luggage transfer company to avoid carrying heavy back packs, or book with a walking tour company. If you'd like to walk all or a section of the Pennine Way, take a look at the National Trail website to plan in advance and find people and businesses to help you.
Last week 35 year old vet, Jasmin Paris showed what can be done if you're fit, well-prepared and determined. She became the first woman to win the 268 mile Spine Race running the entire Pennine Way, beating her nearest male rival by 15 hours and setting a course record by 12 hours. Oh, and "feed stations" took on a new meaning since she was also expressing milk for her baby daughter. The entire race took her just 83 hours, sleeping barely three hours over three nights.
There was one part of this incredible feat that I could have managed - the rules say you have to carry 3000 calories of snacks in your back pack...