Bleaklow to Higher Shelf Stones Circular Hike
Are you looking for a Bleaklow circular hike? This circular Peak District hike takes in the Wain Stones, the Hern Stones, the site of the B-29 Over Exposed plane crash on Bleaklow, Higher Shelf Stones and Lower Shelf Stones. Bleaklow is one of the peaks on my Peak District peak bagging checklist so I was glad to get it ticked off, as is Higher Shelf Stones. Hooray for two peaks in one day! Here’s the Bleaklow circular route we went on. This is a Peak District walk with kids (but only sometimes) and is one of the best Bleaklow walks.
Bleaklow is the second highest peak in the Peak District at 633m above sea level. It’s actually classed as a mountain by some folks, although doesn’t have the prominence most mountains have. I’m totally classing it as a mountain though because that sounds ace.
Bleaklow is, as its name suggests, a pretty bleak place at certain times of the year and I wouldn’t recommend tackling Bleaklow with a small child in the middle of winter. It’s a wild, pretty featureless moor in places and it’s easy to become disorientated and lost without proper equipment. That being said, we had glorious weather for our walk. The weather had been pretty dry for a couple of weeks and was sunny and dry when we set out. Check out those blue skies! Proof that summer did in fact exist this year.
We parked on the in the layby on Snake Pass, near to the entrance to Hope Woodlands Moor and followed the Pennine Way to the north east. The path is quite stony and rocky in places and I was glad for my waterproof walking boots when we reached the little streams to cross! The route is pretty obvious and easy to follow until you reach the Hern Stones.
Along the path you can take a mini detour to the Hern Stones, which are great for a clamber. Climb up to the top of the Hern Stones and you can see the Wain Stones in the distance, and that’s the next stop on the walk.
The Wain Stones are also known as the Kissing Stones – from a certain angle some people think they look like they’re having a smooch. I thought they looked more like an egg that had broken in half but what do I know?!
The summit at Bleaklow Head is only a short walk from the Wain Stones. It’s not a trig point unfortunately – it’s a pile of rocks with a stake in it – but it was still a great place to get to.
Bleaklow Bomber Crash Site
From Bleaklow summit we headed back to the Hern Stones and then made our way over the moorland to Higher Shelf Stones. Just before you get to Higher Shelf Stones you come across the site of the B-29 SuperFortress Overexposed, which is a WW2 plane that crashed onto the moors in 1948, tragically killing all 13 crew on board. The wreckage is remarkably intact and is a poignant reminder of what happened to those poor souls.
There is a memorial stone there as well but if you do visit, please be respectful and don’t let your children take bits of the wreckage (as we witnessed).
Higher Shelf Stones Trig Point
From the site of the plane wreckage on Bleaklow it’s a very short walk to the Higher Shelf Stones trig point. Higher Shelf Stones is the third highest peak in the Peak District and offers spectacular views over the valley. From here on a clear day you can see for miles!
We headed on a little detour to Lower Shelf Stones which is a short distance away. It was really busy at Higher Shelf Stones, as it was a nice day, so it was good to get away from the crowds for a while!
We then headed back to Higher Shelf Stones and followed the path back down the moorland. We had a scramble down to White Clough (and back up the other side!) then wandered along the side of the hill.
The path splits – be sure to take the left path and keep going slightly up, don’t go down to the wooden gate where the fence is! The correct path will turn sharply left and will take you back onto the Pennine Way. Here you can turn right and head back to the road.
We went for a drink in The Wheatsheaf in Old Glossop then headed to The Fleece in Holme for some tea.
Bleaklow and Higher Shelf Stones Circular Walk Info
Parking: A57 Snakes Pass
Difficulty: ▲▲▲ (It is very difficult to navigate)
Walk Time: 2-2.5 hours
Distance: 6 miles
Trig Points Bagged: Higher Shelf Stones
Peak District Peaks Bagged: Bleaklow, Higher Shelf Stones
Peak District Ethels Bagged: Bleaklow, Higher Shelf Stones
Here’s the route for this Bleaklow circular walk:
Here are some frequently asked questions about this Bleaklow circular hike.
Is Bleaklow a mountain?
Yes, Bleaklow is technically a mountain! It’s the second highest point in the Peak District, only a few metres lower than Kinder Scout.
How long does it take to climb Bleaklow?
We took 2 hours to get to the Bleaklow summit but stopped off at the Hern Stones and Wain Stones on the way, and had a picnic lunch just off the path in the heather. We also had really lovely dry weather – from the Hern Stones you cross open moorland to get to the Wain Stones and Bleaklow summit, so allow a lot longer in wet or boggy weather. In total this walk took 4 hours from start to finish including all our stop offs. Someone not stopping every two minutes to get a snack out of a rucksack for their daughter could have finished this walk a lot sooner.
Is this Bleaklow circular walk suitable for kids?
In bad weather, this walk is definitely not suitable for kids. The moorland is vast and featureless in places and it would be easy to get lost. The terrain is peat bog, so after heavy rain it would be awful trying to walk over with small children. Only attempt this with kids on a dry day and at your own risk. Be prepared – take a map and compass and appropriate footwear and clothing. Turning up in trainers and hoping for the best is a recipe for disaster!
Where do you park for this Bleaklow circular hike?
Park on the A57 Snake Pass in a lay by – there’s a small sign for the Hope Woodlands Moor but there will probably be eleven thousand other cars parked there so you’ll see where it is. There is a bus stop here too.
Bleaklow can be a dangerous place in bad weather, and the weather can change very quickly. I would recommend taking a paper map and compass and appropriate clothing. Despite the warm weather when we did this Bleaklow circular walk, I packed waterproofs and we all wore proper walking boots. We did see people in bright white trainers and they soon came a cropper in the peat bogs! There were people wandering about with no idea where the route was – be prepared and plan accordingly.
Do you think you’ll have a go at this Bleaklow circular hike? If so, let me know!