Bleaklow Summits from Pennine Way

Bleaklow Summits from Pennine Way
OS Map : 110
Start : Doctors Gate.
 The layby just east of the summit of the Snake, ample parking and easy access to the moors.
Summary : A57 (Doctors Gate) - Higher Shelf Stones - Hern Stones - Wain Stones - Bleaklow Head - Bleaklow Hill - Bleaklow Stones - Bleaklow Head - A57 (Doctors Gate)
distance : 12.5km.
ascent : 220m.
time : 4hr. 10min.


Current Weather

Last Updated today at : 11:30:06

Overall : overcast clouds
Temperature : 17degC.
Wind Speed : 20km/hr.
Wind Direction : W
Clouds : overcast clouds
Precipitation : none
Sunrise : 4:39:06
Sunset : 21:39:29
(Times are BST)

Data from

Bleaklow is a vast desolate moorland area between the A57 (Snake Pass) and the A628 (Woodhead Pass). The area around Bleaklow Head is the highpoint of this plateau. The Pennine Way, the long distance footpath from Edale to Scotland cuts across Bleaklow, south to north, and this route has The pennine Way at the core. Over the years the Pennine Way has been altered to safeguard the environment and walkers will find that the route marked on the map and the ground do not always tally. In an attempt to improve the environment much work has been carried out on Bleaklow. Gone are the vast swathes of dark exposed and eroding peat - an area where people can get really stuck. Now much of the area has good quality green grass. This has hidden many paths making this an area to explore again.

From the layby at Doctor's gate just on the east of Snake summit, go through the gate and follow the valley, up onto the moor. The path initially has been improved by recent efforts but later the old Roman Road shows through making easy walking to reach the Pennine Way. Turn right here. The path is excellent with a smooth hard core of sandstone or sandstone tiles. The route goes up Devils Dyke, an obvious cut through the moor. On turning around to the south at Alport Low, there is a great view over to Kinder. Continue along the path to cross Hern Clough. From here there is a smaller path straight ahead that goes over the moors towards Higher Shelf Stones. At the path junction climb up to Higher Shelf Stones. The route goes through the wreckage of a Super Fortress that crashed in 1948. Walk solomnly up through the wrechage to reach the trig point of Higher Shelf Stones. (3.0kms. 140m. 1hrs. 10min.)

The best way to Hern Stones is to walk on a bearing, but taking the paths when they appear. This area can be quite confusing, and remote, but there are paths on the ground if not on the map. Once at Hern Stones, follow the path due north to get to Wain Stones. Given the correct angle, these two stones look like they are kissing. It is a simple walk along the good path to reach Bleaklow Head with the large cairn and stake. Bleaklow Head is the highest point on Bleaklow as marked on the OS map at 633m. Good views all around here especially to the north, and Black Hill. (1.5kms. 40m. 0hrs. 40min.)

There is a path from Bleaklow Head over to Bleaklow Hill and Bleaklow Stones but it is indistinct in many places. Starting at Bleaklow Head, follow the path east, keeping to the stakes. These stakes, both short and tall, help the navigation to Bleaklow Hill and keep the walker on the right track. Bleaklow Hill is not marked with any cairn so you may wish to guess which lump is highest. There is a stake below the true top with some large flat stones. Continue along the same line of stakes to just south of Bleaklow Stones and then walk north to visit the stones themselves. From here the views south draw the eye down the many valleys that feed the Derwent Valley. (2.0kms. 20m. 0hrs. 40min.)

The return is via the uphill route back to Bleaklow Head and then down the Pennine Way. Turn around and walk south to the line of stakes and then west along the paths making to Bleaklow Hill and then onto Bleaklow Head. Navigation can enhanced here if you view your route on a GPS device or mobile phone ensuring that you are following the correct path. Trending down hillside to the south or north is to be avoided Much of the land is confusing here. Once at Bleaklow Head follow the Pennine Way south back towards the snake pass. There are often many cars parked along the A57 at the snake summit. Just before reaching the road take the path left to return to the car via doctor's gate. (6.0kms. 20m. 1hrs. 50min.)

20th August 2020 Post lockdown many of the popular areas on the UK hills are busy and the Pennine Way was no different. Many people asked me if they were on the correct way to see the crash site on Higher Shlef Stones. It was obvious that these people were prepared for the current sunny weather and good path but no more! However away from the Pennine way there were only a couple of fellow walkers. This pattern is seen all over the UK hills.

10th July 2020 The route follows the Pennine Way which makes it popular but today there were lots of people out. Many of them were more infrequent hill walkers, well looking at their clothing they were. I presume the popularity was down to the relaxing of lockdown and no school yet. Much was surprising as it was wet for most of the morning although the sun cam out later.

28 March 2019 End of March 2019 and it is Spring, in fact it is as warm as summer. Spent a long time at Higher Shelf Stones over lunch in the sunshine. The ground is a lot wetter than last visit. The route from Hern Stones to Higher Shelf Stones is particularly boggy. Could be due to the wet winter as compared to the dry summer of last year. Really nice route in the sunshine