Ashton Clough and the Shelf Stones on Bleaklow

Walking with; Nobody
I fancied something a little more challenging today and a spot of navigation practice, so where better than Bleaklow and the peat bogs atop it? Bleaklow is a classic example of peat covered gritstone moorland riven with Groughs and in poor visibility very hard to find your way around. It has two peaks above 2000 feet and today I was aiming for the Trig Point at Higher Shelf Stones which sits at 2037 feet.
The initial route along Shelf Brook was a pleasant meander along the valley floor with Pheasant and Curlew plentiful and good views towards Bleaklow and James’s Thorn. The path is known as Doctor’s Gate and is reputed to be a Roman route linking the forts of Ardotalia in Glossop and Navio in the Hope Valley. The track is supposed to be named after Doctor John Talbot who had a family seat in Sheffield and needed to link it to his parish in Glossop, either way it is a pleasant introduction ahead of the tougher work required to ascend Bleaklow. Shortly after the Edwin Ambler memorial footbridge I left the path and followed the Brook along to the foot of Ashton Clough, a perfect spot for a coffee before tackling the climb. One of the great advantages of Open Access Land is how easy it makes it to find yourself some real solitude. Sat down by the water with Grouse scudding by and Curlews calling I felt as if I could have been the only person in the hills……
The climb up Ashton Clough involved a little scrambling and the stream bed made footing a little uncertain from time to time but it was exhilarating stuff and as I climbed the views back down towards the valley were worth the effort. I passed some wreckage from a June 1945 plane crash and when I sent a hail of stones tumbling behind me I disturbed a Mountain Hare, still in his Winter coat which now made him stand out starkly against the non-snowy background. By the time I’d reached the top the clouds had dropped pretty low and visibility was not fantastic so I skirted the edge and headed across to Lower Shelf Stones where I thought I might sit it out with a tuna sarnie and a book until the cloud lifted. It didn’t take long and refreshed I headed over to the high point of the walk at Higher Shelf Stones Trig point. This whole area is crisscrossed with deep groughs and peat bogs and has a real rugged beauty to it, it also has the most spectacular plane wreck on the moors. In November 1948 , a Boeing RB-29A American Airforce reconaissance plane with 13 crew members on board crashed in heavy cloud killing all crew members and the wreckage is still strewn across a wide area (for more information on this visit The whole site still has a very eerie air to it which was exacerbated today by cloud blowing across it.
I headed East towards the Pennine Way but decided to take the path running parallel to the edge of the beautiful and spectacular Crooked Clough. Another Hare broke cover up here and I put up numerous Grouse en route as I followed the Clough back down to Doctor’s Gate which led me gently back down to Shelf Brook and my starting point on the outskirts of Glossop.
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