For a while now, we have wanted to explore Bleaklow, in the Peak District. The Dark Peak holds an air of mystery as the main reason for our visit is the airplane wreck that lies just off the Pennine Way.
We parked on Snake Pass (A57), at the point where the Pennine Way intersects. The lay-by is a little bit rough, so don’t expect to park any super cars and not leave a little souvenir for the road sweepers. Our Big Old Blue can handle a bit of rough and ready, so we left her there and started on our way through the moorland. The purpose of the visit was to claim a trig on the higher shelf stones, and to explore the wreckage around it. As we usually get lost and have had several hikes this year end up a little disastrous, I didn’t have much hope for this particular hike.
The weather was wet, but visibility was good, therefore spirits were high as we strolled along the marked out path of the Pennine Way. My mom and brother had tagged along for this little adventure, so the kids had a distraction, instead of looking at our ugly mugs all the time!
Onwards and Upwards
The route seemed fairly straight forward, in that we follow the path up towards Hern Clough, which is marked by a few posts, then head west from the path over boggy moorland towards the Higher Shelf Stones. We were able to see the hill that we were aiming for, but a niggle lingered in my brain. This was just too easy! On we walk, off the path and towards the hill. Now this was the true moorland that I had expected! Gullies and small streams litter the land, of which we had to hop over and climb around. The terrain is rough and uneven, but not difficult. Just annoying that whenever you thought it had come to an end, another hole opened up!
We were out in the open, nobody else around, save for a white hare that could be seen in the distance, bounding around his territory. Remains of other hares, slaughtered by a predator, lay spread over the moors, promoting questions from the kids. A few sheep graze the land, keeping the space wide between them and 3 hyper children.
After about an hour of walking, I realised we must be close, but I wanted to get to the trig point first. My idea was scuppered as the remains of an airplane appeared. The men got rather excited and the trig plans were put on hold as we explored the remains lying on the ground in front of us.
The wreckage was quite humbling. Charred remains of seats, melted piles of metal, engines lying warped and incomplete across the expanse of the moorland. 13 people were on board this aircraft, when, in 1948, it had immediately combust as it collided with the ground. The aircraft had not stood a chance when it hurtled toward the hill at several hundred miles an hour.
We looked around. The kids asked questions about the remnants of the aircraft, and we explained about remembering those who had fallen for our country. Poppies lie in front of the wreckage, in remembrance of the 13 people who had lost their lives.
The aircraft was a USAF Superfortress Boeing, a plane that was used in the atom bomb drops over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This particular one was a photographic reconnaissance squadron, with the passengers taking photographs of the area. Hence the name ‘Overexposed’. A memorial was erected in 1988, detailing the aircraft and the names of the passengers on board.
As the mist descended, we spotted the trig and decided we would stop for a bite to eat. The kids ran around, playing on the rocks while Dicky tried to set up the tarp for a shelter. The wind and rain had started to pick up, so we hastily warmed up some grub and ate it as fast as we could. The tarp was doing nothing to keep the rain out, and every time the wind blew, a mini shower trickled down our backs.
‘Its all part of the adventure’ I told my brother, as his face did nothing to hide his discomfort! Thankfully, the kids were still happy and they ran down the hills to navigate us back toward the Pennine path. They giggled and played with their uncle, chasing one another and egging each other on to climb the gullies and jump the furthest over the bogs. I used my trusty Ordnance Survey map navigation on my phone to make sure we were heading in the right direction. As the rain was coming down quite heavy now, I didn’t want to chance us getting lost and having to walk longer than we needed to.
Another hour later, we were back at the car, trying to dry the rain from every crevice. We were soaked, but elated. I was so pleased we had a pleasurable hike, with no limitations. We didn’t get lost and the kids had a whale of a time, with a bit of learning thrown in!
But, I must remember for next time – take a towel!