Walk 1168 - printer friendly version
Bleaklow from Old Glossop Walk
Author - Lou Johnson
Length - 9.5 miles / 15.4 km
Ascent - 1680 feet / 509 metres
Grade - moderate
Start - OS grid reference SK045948
Lat 53.449944 + Long -1.9337087
Postcode SK13 7SG (approx. location only)
I have completed this Peak District walk in sunshine (on this occasion) and in pouring rain with cloud sitting low on the moors with visibility almost down to zero - the sun was preferable although I learned a lot navigating by map and compass in the cloud. In whatever conditions you see this large area of upland, you cannot fail to be impressed by the rawness of the scene. Although the best known objective of the walk is Bleaklow Head, there are many other points of interest in this pleasant upland excursion to a quieter part of the Peak District National Park.
The walk starts on the eastern edge of Old Glossop, reached by a signed road off the main A57 through Glossop and then driving to the end of Shepley Street where there is adequate parking (grid ref SK045948). Taking the lane heading east, stay with the lane until a stile on your left. Cross this and take the path between walls, which climbs steadily on to the moors. The path is well used and is easy to follow for most of the way eventually following the Yellowslacks ridge until the stream in Dowstone Clough comes alongside. If visibility is good the Wain Stones on Bleaklow Head can be seen on the horizon. It looks close but rest assured that the next section of the walk will take longer than you expect. True there are paths but the grough ridden peat makes hard going especially after a spell of rain.
The relative dryness of the summit area of Bleaklow Head provides some respite and it is well worth lingering a while before heading just west of south to the next objective, Higher Shelf Stones. Having already suffered peat groughs, the next section will test even the most stoic walker. The paths are intermittent, interrupted by squelchy peat and the only point of interest are the Hern Stones where you can kick off the peat from your boots! If possible follow the stream beds where the peat has been completely stripped from the rock always taking care that you are staying on course. Once across the vague col between Bleaklow Head and Higher Shelf Stones the worst of the peat is over and you can start to relax and enjoy the walk again.
Higher Shelf Stones provides a rewarding view including the Kinder Plateau seen across the A57 Snake Pass road. On a sadder note just to the north-east of the summit are the remains of a B29 which crashed in 1949. Besides a small memorial, much of the superstructure is scattered on the moor looking surprisingly shiny considering fifty years of battering from the elements. Turning your back on the bright red poppy on the memorial, the onward route lays south-east across the moor to pick up the obvious dyke which in turn leads to a paved section of the Pennine Way.
Turning south-west good speed can be made across the moor to the crossroads of paths just short of the A57. Turning right at Doctor's Gate you follow the old Roman Road back to the starting point of this route. Like any good walk, the return is just as interesting as the outward half and you will be surprised by the quality of the scenery on this descent. The path follows the southern side of Crooked Clough starting high above the stream. Across the Clough, Higher Shelf Stones and the lesser Lower Shelf Stones can be seen as the path zig-zags down to the stream.
In places there is some erosion but nothing untoward and compared with the groughs on Bleaklow this is wonderful easy walking. Gradually as height is lost the character of the surroundings changes from moorland to pasture. Passing Mossy Lea Farm on your left you can look back to the Yellowslacks ridge content that despite its reputation Bleaklow does have plenty to offer the walker.