Bleaklow Head Circuit from Old Glossop via Doctor’s Gate
Route Summary: Visit two of the Peak District’s three highest points on the Bleaklow walk from Old Glossop
Visit two of the Peak District’s three highest points on the Bleaklow walk from Old Glossop
|17.04 km||610 m||6 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Old Glossop
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Bleaklow Head Circuit from Old Glossop via Doctor’s Gate Route Map and GPX Download
Bleaklow Head Circuit from Old Glossop via Doctor’s Gate Details
Bleak by name, bleak by nature. Bleaklow is famed for its extensive, wild moorland and is home to two of the three highest points in the Peak District.. Despite its reputation as an endless, featureless mass of peat bogs, Bleaklow is quite magnificent and much quieter than the honeypots of Mam Tor and Kinder Scout. It is the remoteness that makes it such a superb place to visit.
This is a super circuit from Old Glossop which climbs the Doctor’s gate path (a medieval packhorse route) to the Pennine Way, visiting the highest points of Higher Shelf Stones and Bleaklow Head before returning over the open moorland of Glossop Low. Additionally, you should visit the crash site of the WW2 bomber, much of which remains scattered across the moor. How to get there is described here.
2 – Route Description
1 – The circuit starts in Old Glossop, the original heart of the current town of Glossop. There is ample unrestricted parking along Shepley Street, adjacent to a large factory. The end of Shepley Street also marks the beginning of Doctor’s Gate, the route up Shelf Brook to the summit of the Snake Pass some 4km away. Head east along Shepley Street to the bus turning circle and bear right along the tarmac track, following the green Public Footpath sign.
2 – This track leads all the way to the summit of the Snake Pass. After crossing Yellowslacks Brook (SK 06054 94660), bear left to avoid heading to the A57 and then, some distance later, bear right at a barn to join the Doctor’s Gate path (SK 06423 94418). This leads into the valley before crossing a footbridge and climbing on the south side of the stream. Eventually, after some climbing, you will reach the junction with the Pennine Way.
3 – Take a left onto the Pennine Way as it heads northeast, following Devil’s Dike, a ditch and low embankment which drains part of the moor (a fine wooden post points the way). At Alport Low, the Pennine Way swings around to the north-west before reaching Hern Clough. Cross the stream once and then, at the second crossing, you should find a small path branching off to the left (SK 09688 94791). If you cannot find the path, the compass bearing from the Pennine Way at Hern Clough to Higher Shelf Stones is almost exactly due west (270 degrees). The path leads to the crash site of the B-29 Bomber ‘Over-Exposed’, some 650m from the Pennine Way.
4 – The circumstances of the aircraft’s demise follow a depressingly similar pattern that can be shared among numerous wrecks in the Peak District; a combination of poor weather and navigational error proving fatal to the 13 crew on board. A vast amount of wreckage remains strewn across the moor including large, discernible pieces such as the nose wheel, wing spars and all four engines. It’s a quietly moving place with a small memorial dedicated to the crew. The Higher Shelf Stones trig pillar stands 100m to the west of the crash site.
5 – From the trig pillar at Higher Shelf Stones, scan the moorland to the north to find Hern Stones, a collection of low boulders and one of few landmarks in this area of Bleaklow. They are just over 600m away. If the weather is poor you will need to take a map bearing. Using the Hern Stones as a reference point, cross the moor to reach them. Then, 150m east of Hern Stones is the Pennine Way once again.
6 – Keep heading north along the Pennine Way until you reach a huge pile of stones with a wooden stake poking out of the top. This is Bleaklow Head, the high point at the western side of the moor (in truth, the ‘true’ summit is located close to the Wain Stones, an imperceptible rise marked by a small cairn).
7 – Continue north past the Bleaklow Head cairn, following the Pennine Way as it makes a wide arc across Far Moss and drops into Wildboar Grain. After the stream and the Pennine Way, both turn north, leave the Pennine Way along a smaller path through the heather, heading towards Torside Castle (once thought to be of ancient origin but now believed to be a natural formation).
8 – Follow this path, using the fords, boardwalks and footbridges to make your way to the flat top of Glossop Low. Here you will find an area of bare earth and a collection of small, ruined structures. Turn south-west here, following an old and overgrown quarry track along a line of stone-built grouse butts to the disused quarry on the flank of Cock Hill – a visit to the trig pillar here is an optional extra.
9 – The quarry track passes through the south side of the quarry to a corner created by a pair of broken dry stone walls. At the corner is the continuation of the old quarry road, overgrown and hemmed in by broken walls either side. Follow this track all the way back to Old Glossop where it emerges on Hope Street, some 250m from the bus turning circle at the end of Shepley Street.
This walk was included in our Best Walks in the Peak District article.