PENNINE CHAIN, an extensive system of hills in the north of England. The name is probably derived from the Celtic pen, high, appearing in the Apennines of Italy and the Pennine Alps. The English system is comprised within the following physical boundaries. On the N. a well-marked depression, falling below 500 ft. in height, between the upper valleys of the Irthing and the south Tyne, from which it is known as the Tyne Gap, separates the Pennines from the system of the Cheviots. On the N.E., in Northumberland, the foothills extend to the North Sea. On the N.W. the Eden valley forms part of the boundary between the Pennines and the hills of the Lake District, and the division is continued by the upper valley of the Lune. For the rest the physical boundaries consist of extensive lowlands on the E. the vale of York, on the W. the coastal belt of Lancashire and the plain of Cheshire, and on the S. and S.E. the valley of the river Trent. The Pennines thus cover parts of Cumberland, Westmorland and Northumberland, Lancashire and Yorkshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire, while the southern foothills extend into Staffordshire and Nottinghamshire.
The Pennine system is hardly a range, but the hills are in effect broken up into numerous short ranges by valleys cut back into them in every direction, for the Pennines form a north and south watershed which determines the course of all the larger rivers in the north of England. The chain is divided into two sections by a gap formed by the river Aire flowing east, a member of the Humber basin, and the Ribble flowing west and entering the Irish Sea through a wide estuary south of Morecambe Bay.
The northern section of the Pennine system is broader and generally higher than the southern. Its western slope is generally short and steep, the eastern long and gradual ; this distinction applying to the system at large. In the north-west a sharp escarpment overlooks the Eden valley. This is the nearest approach to a true mountain range in the Pennine system and indeed in England. It is known as the Cross Fell Edge from its highest point, Cross Fell (2930 ft.), to the south-east of which a height of 2780 ft. is reached in Milburn Forest, and of 2591 ft. in Mickle Fell. This range is marked off eastward by the upper valleys of the south Tyne and the Tees, and, from the divide between these two, branch ranges spring eastward, separated by the valley of the Wear, at the head of which are Burnhope Seat (2452 ft.) and Dead Stones (2326 ft.). In the northern range the highest point is Midrllehope Moor (2206 ft.), and in the southern, Chapel Fell Top (2294 ft.). It is thus seen that the higher elevations, like the steeper slopes, lie towards the west. Cross Fell Edge terminates southward at a high pass (about 1400 ft.) between the head of the Belah, a tributary of the Eden, and the Greta, a tributary of the Tees. This pass is followed by the Tebay and Barnard Castle line of the North Eastern railway. The hills between the Lune valley on the west and the headstream of the Eden and the Ribble on the east are broken into masses by the dales of tributaries to the first-named river here the chief elevations are Wild Boar Fell (2323 ft.), Whernside (2414 ft.), and Ingleborough (2373 ft.). The Ribble and Eden valleys afford a route for the main line of the Midland railway. Well-marked eastward ranges occur here between Swaledale and the river Ure, which traverses the celebrated Wensleydale (q.v.), and between the Ure and Wharf e. In the first the highest points are High Seat (2328 ft.) and Great Shunner Fell (2340 ft.); and in the second Buckden Pike (2302 ft.) and Great Whernside (2310 ft.). There is then a general southerly slope to the Aire gap.
The southern section of the system calls for less detailed notice. Heights exceeding 2000 ft. are rare. The centre of the section is the well-known Peak (q.v.) of Derbyshire. Both here and throughout the system the summits of the hills are high uplands, rounded or nearly flat, consisting of heathery, peaty moorland or hill pasture. The profile of the Pennines is thus not striking as a rule, but much fine scenery is found in the narrow dales throughout; Wensleydale, Wharfedale and other Yorkshire dales being no less famous than the dales of Derbyshire. In the parts about Settle below Ingleborough, in Derbyshire, and elsewhere, remarkable caverns and subterranean watercourses in the limestone have been explored to great depths. In Ingleborough itself are the Ingleborough cave, near Clapham; the chasm of Gaping Ghyll, over 350 ft. deep; Helln or Hellan Pot, a vast swallow-hole 359 ft. deep, only exceeded by Rowten Pot (365 ft.) near Whernside; and many others. Malham Tarn, near the head of the Aire, is drained by a stream which quickly disappears below ground, and the Aire itself is fed by a brook gushing forth in full stream at the foot of the cliffs of Malham Cove. A notable example in Derbyshire is the disappearance of the Wye into Plunge Hole, after which it traverses Poole's Cave, close to Buxton. There may also be noted the remarkable series of caverns near Castleton (q.v.). Lakes are few and small in the Pennine district, but in some of the upland valleys, such as those of the Nidd and the Etherow, reservoirs have been formed for the supply of the populous manufacturing districts of Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire, which he on either flank of the system between the Aire gap and the Peak. (For geology see ENGLAND and articles on the several counties.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)