If you’re after picture postcard views and voluptuous foliage then this might not be the walk for you. We’ll be heading to a unique plateaux famous for it’s never ending peat trenches, repeating over and over, leaving you stuck in a loop just waiting to wake up from the nightmare. The landscape is famous for it’s navigational challenges, climbing to the top of a mound in search of features from which you can take a bearing. You return to the trenches, get turned around and spat out in a different direction before you try again. Occasionally you bump into others, the lost souls have been trying to escape the hall of mirrors for hours, days, months and even years. That’s right we’ll be heading to the summit of Bleaklow for a fun day out full of joy and falafel.
The parking is free but please be careful not to block the turning circle as it’s used by trucks, carriages and a circus. We’ll ascend the giant peat mound via a medieval path called the Doctor’s Gate, a path that starts wide and gets smaller and smaller as it heads down what appears to be cul-de-sac. Just as you start to question the paths exit route from the valley, you cross a stream and start a gradual climb traversing the right hand embankment. After a brief zig-zag marking the steepest section of the climb, we’ll pop out onto the plateaux. We’ll head away from the edge until we hit a busy crossroads and the motorway which is the Pennine Way, please make sure you respect the traffic lights when making your left turn. A straight paved highway lays in front of you with embankments on either side designed to protect the local neighbourhoods from the residual noise. Obviously we don’t like to follow the crowds for too long, we like to take the paths less trodden and in this case quite literally as we turn 90 degrees to our left and head straight across the moorland to Higher Shelf Stones to admire the views and enjoy our lunch.
Taking a 90 degree turn to our right, we’ll turn our backs on the viewpoint to head in a north easterly direction for around 150m until we reach the memorial and wreckage of the US Airforce B29 Superfortress. The Peak District is the location of many crash sites, sadly in this case the crew of 13 all lost their lives on the short flight from Scampton (Lincoln) to Burtonwood (Warrington) after crashing in poor visibility. After paying our respects we continue north easterly directly towards the Hearn Stones via a couple of ditches. We’ll probably then join our final section of Pennine Way to a pile of stones with a large stick, the summit of Bleaklow, our highest point. We’ll perform an about-turn but taking the right fork, passing by some boulders until we reach the Wayne (Wain) Stones. Few people know that these are called Wayne because they resemble Wayne Rooney’s head. We’ll continue in the same direction and after approximately 10-15 mins we’ll perform our final off-piste transition across the moorland onto a track which will bring us out to the plateaux edge with views of The Pike, Dog Rock and Yellowslacks Brook. This path will then be followed along the edge, leading us lower down through the fields and back onto the track we started leading to the car.
The route can get very muddy and surprisingly cold on Bleaklow, so bring your coat, boots and a good attitude (I take a towel and change of clothes just in case I fall in the mud). It will be fun.
The Plan- 10:00 : Meet
- 10:15 : Start Walk
- 11:45 : Pennine Way
- 12:30 : Higher Shelf Stones
- 12:30 - 13:00 : Lunch
- 13:15 : Superfortress
- 14:00 : Hearn Stones
- 14:15 : Bleaklow
- 14:30 : Wain Stones
- 16:00 : Finish Walk
The Kit- Clothes suitable for the conditions (it can get very cold even when it’s nice in lower down)
- Walking boots (there will be mud)
- Rucksack (to carry stuff)
- A good attitude