Bleaklow Revisted   22 comments

One of semi-regular get togethers with friends from across the country for a day walk. We managed to convince the Yorkshire contingent down from Harrogate to join us for a Peak District wander. We settled on one of our classic walks from yesteryear, Dowstone Clough onto Bleaklow returning via Doctors Gate.


Breakfast in a great cafe in Glossop set us up for the day and we met up in Old Glossop and headed for the moors.


We discovered the delights of Yellowslacks Brook and Dowstone Clough in my University years. In those pre-car days reaching Glossop involved one of the worlds longest (or so it seemed) bus rides. It used to take the best part of two hours to reach Glossop from central Manchester. The trains never seemed to run to Glossop on a Sunday (no idea why) and Saturday was normally spent curing a hangover. Heady days.


We discovered Dowstone Clough by accident back then. Seeing an interesting looking valley in the distance we decided to take a look. We went back many times over a few years but I’ve not been up here for maybe 20 years.


Its a superb valley with a couple of quite decent waterfalls and several small cascades. You can pretty much take the whole riverbed direct.


Sadly we were in the worst weather of a showery day when we were on this section, heavy rain and a chill wind had me reaching for hat and gloves.


Its still a superb stretch of walking and I urge you to seek out its charms when up this way.


As we approached the top of the stream where it emerges onto the vast plateau of Bleaklow the rain stopped and the sun came out.


What struck me was how much Bleaklow has changed. I’m not entirely sure how but they seem to have regenerated the grassland up here. What used to be vast expanses of dark, black peat were now swathed in grass and the whole area had a green rather than a black look. I always thought the peat expanses were natural and in a way I quite liked it. Seeing it now restored its completely stunning.


We stopped for a brief rest and lunch at Hern Stones as more dark and threatening clouds gathered. We thought we were in for a real soaking but it seemed to pass us by and we barely needed waterproofs.


In the intervening years they have also paved the path across the plateau making it a superb high level stroll rather than a trudge through bog and peat.


Doctors Gate is a real Peak District Gem. It suddenly opens up beneath your feet as you descend from the Pennine Way.


A glorious green valley, twisting its way back to Old Glossop. Every step is just a joy. I came up here many times when I lived in Glossop for a short period in the 90’s.


We talked about many things. About Politics, Sport, Brexit and the complete lack of real world common sense that our kids seem to be proficient at.


The sun beat down on us for most of the way down and the wintery feel of the rain in Dowstone Clough turned back to summer again.


Looks can be deceiving though. The next two photos were taken at the same time looking in opposite directions.


By the time we reached the cars it was chucking it down with a vengeance and we sheltered in the Yorkshire Van for a cuppa before the long drive home. Superb day that rekindled some very happy memories from long ago.


22 responses to “Bleaklow Revisted

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  1. Although I had a great day, and better weather by the looks of it, with B on the 3 peaks, I’m still slightly sad to have missed this. As I think you know, this has to be one of my favourite walks anywhere – mainly for sentimental reasons I suppose, and to walk it again with some of the people I walked it with many times over 30 years ago would have been tremendous. Still, at least I have this post, which I have enjoyed immensely. Sean and I did this several times when we lived in Hulme. And, I suppose because he was still in Manchester too, I did it with Adam a few times too. Once I persuaded him to accompany me on my favourite extended version which went right over to Alport Castles and back up the Snake. I don’t think he realised what he’d let himself in for and he was pretty exhausted by the end! Was Bleaklow really that black, away from the Pennine Way path? I would have said that it was Black Hill which was the really damaged one, although I must admit that you photos seem to lack any large areas of expose peat, which is definitely a change.


    • It was a classic. My memory is of a walk we did with the Viscount Chaise-Lounge and TBF just after my final exams. A hot sunny day with many laughs. I have a very happy photo in one of the photo montages on the kitchen wall. The Viscount has the most dreadful mullet – I don’t remember that – and TBF and you look quite ridiculously young. It was the 80’s I guess. Some of the waterfalls were harder than I remember although it was pretty wet and slippery. It really is extraordinary how they have reclaimed the moorland. Bleaklow was never the blackest but its the fact there is almost no visible peat anywhere and the overall impression is one of lush green-ness.
      The day was a real win so I think we’ll be doing another Peak meet up at some point – no excuses this time (although it did look like you and DB Sr had a top day, I’m impressed he did it, long way!


      • He strolled it, it was me that struggled – but only on the climb out of Humphrey Bottom, legs temporarily turned to jelly. I remember one of the waterfalls being quite awkward, with a gully next to it which meant it could be avoided, which was also not exactly easy. Chaise-Longue had a classic mullet – how could you forget that?


  2. I can fully imagine your joy of this hike, especially with all its past memories. Just wonderful to read.


  3. Been a long time since I’ve been up/down Doctors Gate, keep meaning to incorporate it into a backpack. Not scrambled up Yellowslack myself, although I do remember going up Ashton Clough many years ago, with our then Boxer, Cleo, and our Border Collie, Ragga. Poor Cleo was absolutely terrified scrambling around the waterfalls (not my favourite thing either, I must admit) and was visibly shaking. I think it was the sound of the water as much as anything that upset her. I felt awful about it afterwards 😦


    • My dog Harry was afraid of moving water, rivers and waves on the sea. Most of Dowstone Clough is not really suitable for dogs although you can walk on the path on the northern edge and the waterfalls are all relatively easy to avoid. We tend to stay close to water as its more fun although doing it in heavy rain was less so.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What are the white pipes(?) for?


  5. Excellent approach to the plateau and photos.
    Yes, those pictures of Bleaklow are very green compared to my recollections, though of course that is one sample of a huge area. I recall a vast ocean of dark brown peat hags with struggling patches of heather and green bilberry.


    • That was my memory as well. I knew they were doing work up here to help the greenery recover and there still peat hags but the overall impression that I now got was one of quite lush green-ness. It really was rather stunning. The vastly improved path helped me to enjoy it as well rather than battling through the groughs and boggy stuff.


  6. I’ve never been up on the hills in this part of the Peak District, even though it’s not so far from here. The journey over to there is always a pain whichever mode of transport you take. Driving always entails getting stuck in a traffic jam at the end of the motorway and then alongthe Woodhouse Pass road. So much easier to drive to the Lakes even though it’s further away


    • Glossop was always a painful place to get to back in my youth. The bus used to take forever and the desperate bit of road at the end of the M67 was bad once I had a car. This time we approached from Buxton. If you can find a way to make it work the Cloughs and Edges of both Bleaklow and Kinder make for magnificent walking


      • The train to Glossop would be the best option – if they run!!
        I think I’ll add this to my list of railway walks now that having read your post Bleaklow doesn’t seem quite the gluey mess it’s reputed to be.


        • Not sure how they made the improvements but it’s totally different up there now. The gluey mess was down to burning off the heather for the sake of driven grouse shooting.
          Train is definitely the way – just not on Sundays when the trains don’t run, no idea why!

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: The Yorkshire Three Peaks with B – Beating The Bounds

  8. Beautiful hike! Loved all the green and waterfalls. Nice to revisit a favorite place from the past.


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