Peak District Walks
Date: 28th August 2010
Distance: 9.8 miles
Ascent: 1950 feet
Time: 8 hours 05 mins
Start Grid Ref: SK067983
A long day out on Bleaklow with mixed weather, a tough ascent and some fantastic views.
Route Summary: Torside Visitor Centre - Longdendale Trail - Wildboar Clough - Bleaklow - Herne Stones - Higher Shelf Stones - Lower Shelf Stones - Dowstone Clough - Clough Edge - Longdendale Trail - Torside Visitor Centre
1. Matt battling through the undergrowth
2. Torside Reservoir
3. Looking up into Wildboar Clough
4. The summit of Bleaklow
5. The Wain Stones
6. Looking towards Higher Shelf Stones from Herne Stones
7. Matt on Higher Shelf Stones
8. By the trig point on Higher Shelf Stones
9. Looking past Lower Shelf Stones towards Glossop
10. The sad remains of the wrecked B-29 Superfortress
11. Matt on Lower Shelf Stones
12. Matt crossing Yellowslacks Brook
13. Looking back up to the mound of Torside Castle
14. Torside Reservoir from Clough Edge
15. Looking back up Torside Clough towards Bleaklow
Walk Detail: Our route of ascent was up the eastern bank of Wildboar Clough. Very quickly the path disappeared into a tangle of bracken, trees, heather and gritstone boulders. Fighting our way out through the undergrowth was time consuming and it was quite a while before we got down into the upper reaches of Wildboar Clough to follow the stream bed for a while.
A steep climb out of the clough finally brought us on to the plateau of Bleaklow. Bleaklow is famous for being a confusing place to be in poor visibility. Quite naturally therefore our final march to the summit was done in hill fog.
The large summit cairn suddenly loomed out of the mist along with a particularly unenthusiastic group of teenagers on the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. To be fair it was lashing it down with rain at the time. After leaving the summit behind we next visited the Wain Stones with the famous pair of rocks which look like they are kissing.
The cloud finally began to lift when we arrived at the Herne Stones. We took shelter from the wind and showers behind the rocks to eat our much delayed lunch. By the time we finished the sun had begun to make its first appearance since we were in Wildboar Clough.
I'd remarked early in the walk that given a choice I'd prefer good visibility from the subsidary summit of Higher Shelf Stones than from Bleaklow itself. Fortunately this is how it turned out. Higher Shelf Stones sits above a steep drop down into Shelf Brook and proved to be a fine spot.
Apart from the excellence of the views and the location Higher Shelf Stones is also notable for being the site of a substantial plane wreck. An American B-19 Superfortress crashed there in 1948 and the wreckage can still be seen over a wide area. It is a somber place and the peaty surrounds give it a rather unnatural feel.
Leaving Higher Shelf Stones we next visited the dramatic Lower Shelf Stones before contouring round to Yellowslacks Brook. Along the way we were temporarily halted in our tracks by a vicious hail shower which due to the strong winds was blowing almost horizontally into our faces.
After crossing Yellowslacks Brook we then headed just west of north to pick up the Pennine Way just below the curious mound marked as Torside Castle on the OS maps. En route we startled two mountain hares which burst from the undergrowth just yards away from us.
The final section of the walk was the fine Clough Edge section of the Pennine Way above Torside Clough which featured great views of Torside Reservoir and dramatic views down into the clough itself.
To say the weather had been a mixed bag would be an understatement and our fight with the undergrowth at the start was not fun either. On the other hand the scenery of Higher Shelf Stones and Torside Clough more than compensated making this a truly memorable first trip to Bleaklow.