Snake pass is an area of natural beauty with so many walks and hikes in all directions and abilities that I could write about the many miles of stunning scenery forever. Last summer was a great time to explore some more of the beautiful moorland and rocky outcrops from snake pass above Glossop.
We had been very lucky with the weather but took precautions anyway, as we always do, moorland weather can change dramatically in a short period of time and the winds whip up across exposed areas dropping the temperature so our back packs are always prepared with extra layers, waterproof clothing, first aid, power pack for phones, water and food etc. Bleaklow is a high peat covered, gritstone plateau North of Kinder Scout and is the second highest point in Derbyshire. Most of the Bleaklow area is at least 2,000 feet (610 m) above sea level and the shallow bowl of Swains Greave on the eastern side is the source of the River Derwent.
Snake pass walk
We found a parking space along A57 Snake Pass beside the moorland known as National Trust’s Hope Woodlands Moor. First off, we booted up and did a bag check, (food, plenty of water, extra layer of clothes and good rain coats/trousers,) before locking up the car and following the trail, this walk is roughly 6 miles if walking to Lower Shelf Stones and a wander about as we did. Way marked trails are perfect, or seemingly so, unless you lose your way while straying off track or wintry showers cover the trail leaving you in a pickle.
Maps and compass are always a great idea for rugged hikes and walks. You may wonder how to find good walking routes, well Paul Taylor has this covered in his comprehensive article. We set off for our adventure on a summer’s day, my birthday treat, spending time in a beautiful place with my family. This was a first for us since most of our walks at snake pass have been lower in the valley or on the northern side on Kinder Scout, so now we’ve experienced more of this area I’m certainly interested in a return visit and possibly hiking up from the other side at Torside Reservoir, another of my favourite places. Start grid reference for this walk is: SK 08808 92913 and the car parking location: Snake Pass (A57), above Glossop.
The ordnance survey map for the area is OL1 – Peak District (Dark Peak Area.) A good piece of kit is a lifesaver bottle which has a water purification filter which means you can fill up from streams. Ours has been great value.
Bleaklow plane wreckage and higher shelf stones
The Higher Shelf Stones is classified as an English Nuttal 233rd highest in England, 403rd in England & Wales.) The moorland views were spectacular 360 degrees of beauty and the trail well kept which is a real treat considering the exposed moorland all around with some very extreme weather conditions at this high level with no let up throughout the winter months especially. We thoroughly enjoyed the walk which is at least way marked by posts along the way.
The trail is a twisty up and down route with peat bogs either side along some sections and lots of wild cotton growing here and there, so delicate looking in this rugged landscape. As we reached the Higher Shelf Stones summit, the B29 Superfortress crash site is spread out across the moorland before us, quite a shocking scene to see.
A stillness and a sense of reflection and remembrance is in the air. There is a memorial to the crew of the superfortress here and many remembrance crosses left in their memory. We were feeling quite in awe here and we paid our respects to the crew at the memorial.
The plaque reads;
Here lies the wreckage of B-29 Superfortress “Over Exposed” of the 16th. Photographic reconnaissance squadron USAF. Which tragically crashed whilst descending through cloud on 3rd November 1948 killing all 13 crewmembers. The aircraft was on a routine flight from RAF Scampton to American AFB Burtonwood. It is doubtful the crew ever saw the ground. Memorial laid by 367 Air Navigation Course of RAF Finningley on November 12th 1988.
Walking to Lower Shelf Stones
Once we had walked to the trig point at Higher Shelf Stones we just wanted to explore more while we were there and so naturally carried on our way to find more exhilarating view points and further ideas for the future visits. The boulders throughout the Bleaklow area are spectacular and worn into different shapes and figures from the harsh weather conditions that have battered them and if you have a good imagination you can see all sorts of things when looking at the strange shapes. From the lower shelf Stones the panoramic views are stunning, well worth the effort to walk the little extra distance for more sights and a wonderful place to relax a while and enjoy the experience, such peaceful moments on these rocky quirky stones.
Return from Bleaklow back to the A57 Snake Pass.
It was time to turn back and return to the trail down from Bleaklow. I had an amazing birthday walking experience with stunning views and rugged terrain with great company but we needed to get back to the car because there was more planned for later in the day. We will be back again as soon as possible to explore much more of the area. The weather was turning as we walked back, darker clouds were forming and the winds were blowing stronger. We were glad of the extra planning we had done and for the rain coats we had packed.
It was getting decidedly cooler and rain started to fall intermittently, plus the visibility was getting worse than before, but we still found it enjoyable. Now walking with our rain proofs on and glad of our walking boots, we were still laughing and joking, the return walk was only another three miles away from where we had parked beside the A57. The peat bogs looked even more watery than before and the little waterfalls in the valleys were more picturesque. The change in weather only added to the fun of the day for us. As we neared closer to the road the rain came down in torrents and the clouds darkened further making the scene more dramatic across the moors as we finished our little Peak District adventure and de-booted.
These are the places I’ll never forget or grow weary of, but always planning ahead for any eventualities is the best way to make sure the day will always be fun and safe. Hope you have more adventures too.