Bleaklow and the Wain Stones from Longdendale

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The Peak District marks the southern extent of the Pennines, but despite the name the area is characterised by rolling hills and moors rather than jagged tops, and it has been suggested that the title comes from the Old English word ‘peac’, meaning hill. Situated between Manchester and Sheffield, with the Midlands not that far away to the south, the Peak District National Park is within easy reach of one-third of the population of England, making it the most popular National Park in the UK, with over 10 million visitors every year

The Park divides naturally into the White Peak to the south, dominated by limestone outcrops and valleys, and the higher, wilder uplands of the Dark Peak to the north, characterised by its gritstone edges and peat moors. The highest top of Kinder Scout (636 metres) is more plateau than summit, and this is also the case with Bleaklow, which at 633 metres is the second highest top in the Peak District. Although these heights are fairly modest in altitude, walking in the Peak can often be tough and challenging.

This walk aims to give you an introduction to walking in the Dark Peak without too much of a challenge. Starting from the old mill town of Hadfield near Glossop, a gentle warm-up is guaranteed as the route follows the way of the old Woodhead railway line, now designated as the Longdendale Trail, which is part of the national coast-to-coast route from Liverpool to Hull. At Torside Clough the character of the walk suddenly changes, gaining height rapidly on another well-known national trail, the Pennine Way.

The Pennine Way takes us all the way to our summit at Bleaklow Head, but rather than just reversing the route back to Hadfield this route takes you on to the Wain Stones, a place mentioned in Ewan MacColl’s famous song, Manchester Rambler. From the Wain Stones the walk loses height gradually, passing along the edge of Harrop Moss before heading back towards Hadfield. This section has the potential to realise all your worst nightmares about walking on boggy peat moors, but a well-placed line of duckboards and bridges keeps most of the muck at bay!

These boggy uplands can make navigation tricky in difficult conditions, so be prepared to use GPS or map and compass if the weather is poor. Far better to wait for good conditions, when you will be rewarded by big skies, long views and easy route finding. Pick your time well, and you might even see white hares. These are Mountain Hares, more usually found in Scotland, and introduced to the area by the local gentry for their hunting entertainment. In early spring the hares white coats can easily be picked out against the grey and black of the moors, but as the days become longer their coats turn to a more useful (for them) camouflage brown.

England - Central England - Derbyshire - Peak District

15/04/2014 - Norman Brannick

Completed this walk on the 15th April 2014. My compliments to Paul Shorrock for this walk. I think this walk borders on moderate/strenuous especially the first part of the Pennine Way, having said that it turned out to be a really enjoyable day, the sun was shining for a change and the views were magnificent apart from Bleaklow where it's just moorland. I am surprised Paul didn't include the B-29 Superfortress crash site which was only a short walk away from the Wain Stones. The White mountain hares were scurrying around all over the place which was nice to see. Great day out. Thanks Paul..

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