Higher Shelf Stones is the third highest point in the Peak District at 621 metres, but it’s the hill with the most-defined summit, unlike Kinder Scout and Bleaklow that are moorland plateaus.
This circular walk starts from Snake Pass next to the Pennine Way path, which means much of the ascent is done, for the first part of the walk. It takes a quieter path to the summit of Higher Shelf Stones summit, before heading off to explore the nearby Bleaklow B29 Superfortress plane crash site and memorial plaque.
The route then takes you via Lower Shelf Stones and gradually descends to Shelf Brook, a meandering stream that you follow until you start hiking uphill again, in late summer the purple heather comes to life and on a clear day you can see back up to Higher Shelf Stones summit.
Here you will find details on how to get to the start of the walk at Snake Pass, parking options, map, GPX file, route information, plus a detailed step by step guide of the walk.
I’ve also included an easier 4-mile walk if you’re looking to do a shorter walk to visit the summit and crash site.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve done this Higher Shelf Stones walk or visited the crash site?
Higher Shelf Stones from Snake Pass
Higher Shelf Stones walk mapClick for OS online map
Walk start point
Start grid reference: SK 08808 92913
Car parking location: Snake Pass (A57), Glossop, SK17 7EJ
Please note this is free layby car parking, there’s a small layby but at weekends most cars will park on the grass verges. The postcode is also a rough location. For the exact point, click here for Google maps pin.
Nearest train station: Glossop train station (4 mile/6.5 km)
From the train station, there are no public transport options to the start but you could pick up the route at the bottom of Doctor’s Gate path (about 2 miles) and do the circular walk starting from there (Grid reference SK 06440 94413)
Facilities on the walk
There are no public toilets or facilities anywhere on the walk.
Water on your walk – I recommend a filter water bottle for your Peak District walks, it saves you carrying extra weight and you can fill up safely and drink water from the streams on your walk.
Other useful information
As Higher Shelf Stones is the third highest point in the Peak District it can also be quite cold at the top, even on a summer’s day so take some layers and a hat for the top!
On a day with poor visibility, it’s very easy to get lost on Bleaklow, please take navigation equipment to make sure you don’t end up lost!
There are also a few muddy sections on the walk, so be prepared to get muddy in places!
Check the weather for your walk location and hills
Please check the weather between Glossop and Bleaklow (the nearest summit to Higher Shelf Stones) as the temperature can vary greatly from the valley to the hilltop.
- BBC Weather for Glossop
- Met Office weather for the Peak District
- Met Office weather for Bleaklow (Derbyshire)
Ordnance Survey Walk Map
And don’t forget your compass, I recommend the Silva Expedition compass
Check prices here for the one month or yearly option with OS Online App.
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Higher Shelf Stones walk route
Stage 1 – Snake Pass (Pennine Way) to Higher Shelf Stones
Distance: 1.6 miles/2.5 km
Grid reference SK 08805 92915
From the layby on Snake Pass, walk down the Pennine Way path for about 500 metres until you reach a wooden post. Turn left here onto a single track and walk down for about 200 metres. On your right, there is a footpath heading along the edge, which is quite hidden (if you reach the gate you’ve missed it).
Follow this single track as it runs parallel to Crooked Clough below you, with Higher Shelf Stones in the distance. Walk until you see a waterfall then the path splits. Take the left-hand path, heading down, across the stream and back up.
From here, the path gets muddy in places so you might need to weave between the path to avoid the muddy bits! You then cross another stream and continue walking across the moorland. From here, it’s just under 1 km, heading north to the far edge of Higher Shelf Stones.
Walk up the path towards the rocks and then at the top turn right to reach the summit and the trig point at Higher Shelf Stones.
Stage 2 – Higher Shelf Stones to Shelf Brook (Doctor’s Gate)
Distance: 2 mile/3.3 km
Grid reference SK 08894 94785
From the trig point, walk east to do a small detour to visit the B29 Superfortress crash site (grid reference SK 09063 94874). The plane crash remains are scattered over a wide area, along with a small memorial plaque with the sad story of the crash from 1948.
Then retrace your steps back to the trig point and continue your circular walk heading west to Lower Shelf Stones, from here you begin to descend gradually keeping on the single path that winds down the moorlands then takes you up again. Keep walking west, now heading back downhill again towards a gate with a small tarn on the right of the path further down.
Continue walking downhill, until you reach a track after about 1 km, bear right and follow the track as it continues to descend all the way to some farm buildings. At this point, you then want to turn sharp left, almost doubling back on the path and follow the public footpath sign via Doctor’s Gate and Snake Inn.
Stage 3 – Shelf Brook to Snake Pass
Distance: 2.2 miles/3.6 km
Grid reference SK 06422 94414
The footpath follows Shelf Brook closely for about 1 km, in late summer the path looks beautiful with all the heather in flower. Walk until you reach a newly replaced wooden bridge, cross the brook here and keep on the narrow path and through a metal gate.
In some places, the path can be very muddy, even in the summer months so you might need to weave in and out to avoid getting totally muddy, or of course, if you’re wearing hiking boots, plod straight through!
The Doctor’s Gate path from the bridge is about 1.5 km, it’s a steady hike uphill then just before the top it does a small switchback before reaching a wooden gate, then another few metres and you’re back where you followed the path to Higher Shelf Stones.
Walk until you reach the Pennine Way path, turn right and you’re back at Snake Pass.
Have you visited the Higher Shelf Stones summit and crash site, what did you think? Let me know in the comments.
Other options for this walk
Shorten the walk
Want to visit Higher Shelf Stones but with a shorter (and easier) walk? Instead of continuing the walk across to Lower Shelf Stones you can navigate back to the Pennine Way path, this can be tricky to navigate so make sure you take a map and compass.
It’s about 800 metres from the crash site to the Pennine Way but it’s easy to get lost especially in bad weather. But once you reach the wide, well-trodden Pennine Way path you simply turn right and follow it back to Snake Pass.
This option is about 3.7 miles/6 km but it’s only 158 metres of ascent as Snake Pass is already pretty high up! View the walk map here.Walk map
More walks in the Peak District
Looking for more short walks in the Dark Peaks? Check out these routes
Or check out all our Peak District walking routes here
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Please note 'Peak District Walks' accepts no liability through any injuries or accidents that may result from walking this route. We always recommend you take a paper map and compass on your walk. Read more here.