Bleaklow from Old Glossop

Bleaklow and Higher Shelf Stones feature in this Peak District walk from Old Glossop. Other highlights include the Wain Stones, Yellow Stacks and Doctor's Gate. This moorland can be wild and desolate in bad weather so save this walk for a dry day with good visibility.

Technical sheet
No. 292945
A Derbyshire walk posted on 04/07/16 by Walking Britain. Update : 20/11/20
Calculated time Calculated time: 5h15[?]
Distance Distance : 8.53mi
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 1503ft
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 1499ft
Highest point Highest point : 2060ft
Lowest point Lowest point : 584ft
Average Difficulty : Average
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Area Area : Peak District
Location Location : Derbyshire
Starting point Starting point : N 53.45013° / W 1.93285°
Download : -
Saddleworth Moors


(D/A) 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.

(1) 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.

(2) 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.

(3) 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:/A/:.

Waypoints :
D/A : mi 0 - alt. 584ft
1 : mi 3.09 - alt. 2060ft - Bleaklow Head
2 : mi 3.89 - alt. 2014ft - Higher Shelf Stones
3 : mi 4.56 - alt. 1844ft - Turn south-west
D/A : mi 8.53 - alt. 587ft

Useful Information

I have completed this 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.

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

Opinions and comments


Global average : 4.11/5
Number of opinions : 6
Description quality : 4/5
Routemap quality : 3.67/5
Walk interest : 4.67/5

on Thu 29 Jul 2021 22:27:15 CEST

Global average : 5 / 5

Date of walk : 28/07/21
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Very good
Walk interest : Very good

Excellent walk with the added poignant interest of the B29 American recon aircraft wreckage from 1948. Still very well preserved and lots of wreckage. On the northern part of the walk paths are absent but the number of walkers that have trudged this walk has created small paths of sparser undergrowth but still can easily get diverted off and then revert to compass navigation. Weather can change in an instant to mist and low cloud so water proof and warm clothes need to be packed in the haversack with a compass and maps being essential.

on Mon 24 Aug 2020 11:11:12 CEST

Global average : 3.67 / 5

Date of walk : 24/08/20
Description quality : Average
Routemap quality : Average
Walk interest : Very good

A good walk to experience the bleakness of Bleaklow. However, as other commenters have said, this means that you need to understand how to read a map, take a compass, and know how to use it.

I made a couple of (intentional) deviations from the route described:
1) Heading up Dowstone Clough towards Bleaklow Head, I went north to join the Pennine Way and then continue southwards along it to Bleaklow Head. This is cross country, but it is not too rough. There is a mast on the horizon at almost exactly the right bearing to reach the Pennine Way. The point where the path leaves Dowsone Clough to go directly to Bleaklow Head is not at all obvious.
2) Coming down from Higher Shelf, I followed the path that skirts Crooked Clough. This is boggy where it crosses the stream, and the point marked 'ford' will be exactly that when stream levels are high. The aircraft wreckage is on the line of this (obvious) path down from the summit.

on Tue 24 Mar 2020 05:01:45 CET

Global average : 4 / 5

Date of walk : 23/03/20
Description quality : Good
Routemap quality : Good
Walk interest : Good

After walking with the stream on the right eventually the path ends and it's not clear were to go. Fortunately a fellow walker helped me to find the Pennine Way by heading east which we then took northwards to Bleaklow Head. Then continued the walk from there. Really nice views. Very windy and by the end my knees were sore 😬. Make sure to have waterproof boots as it can get muddy and wet.

on Sun 02 Feb 2020 13:36:10 CET

Global average : 3.33 / 5

Date of walk : 26/11/19
Description quality : Average
Routemap quality : Average
Walk interest : Good

Please take note of warnings. I did this walk on a fairly good day in late November. New to site but found prints of the maps hard to use in windy/ damp conditions, and not possible to use ipad or similar as no signal. Anyway to cut a very long story short, I underestimated the difficulty of keeping on this route and got lost. In failing light, I had a difficult time getting off Bleaklow, which is notorious I found out later, as it is almost featureless. The area across the top has faint similar paths in many directions and the area is known to disrupt compass operation. Got back off Torside after a scary rock scramble.

on Tue 27 Feb 2018 15:55:08 CET

Global average : 4.33 / 5

Date of walk : 26/02/18
Description quality : Good
Routemap quality : Good
Walk interest : Very good

The walk was clear until we got to what we think was the Wain stone then the paths very were vague, a few way-marks would have helped.What looked to be a good stone path then disappeared into a stream and not knowing the area we made the decision to turn round and retrace our step.It was still a good day out and is there to be done later.

on Mon 09 Oct 2017 09:33:53 CEST

Wow good to know.

Admin hiker
on Wed 27 Sep 2017 11:57:41 CEST

Thank you for your message.

on Fri 15 Sep 2017 16:37:29 CEST

Global average : 4.33 / 5

Date of walk : 15/09/17
Description quality : Very good
Routemap quality : Average
Walk interest : Very good

We did this walk in poor visibility. It cannot be stressed enough that GOOD navigation skills needed to complete this walk safely as are good ground reading skills too.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.