Higher Shelf Stones Circular Walk (+ Plane Crash Site) | 6-Mile Walk

Heather in valley on Higher Shelf Stones walk

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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

Bleaklow Plane Crash Site
Bleaklow plane crash site

Walk information

Walk type: Short moderate circular walk

Distance: 5.8 miles/9.3 km

Walk time: 3-3.5 hours

Total ascent: 488 m/1,601 ft

Highest point: 621 m/2,037 ft

Walk highlights: Views from Higher Shelf Stones, B29 Superfortress crash site + memorial plaque, Lower Shelf Stones, walking along Shelf Brook

gpx file

Higher Shelf Stones walk map

Higher Shelf Stones Map
Higher Shelf Stones + Plane Crash Site Map
Click for OS online map

Walk start point

Start grid reference: SK 08808 92913

Car parking location: Snake Pass (A57), Glossop.

Please note this is free layby car parking, there’s a small layby but at weekends cars will park on the grass verges along Snake Pass. There is no exact postcode to the location so I’ve removed for this location to avoid confusion. Click here for the Google maps pin.

Public transport

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

Muddy sections on path
Muddy sections on the path

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.

Ordnance Survey Walk Map

The map for this walk is OL1 – Peak District (Dark Peak Area). Check offers here with Ordnance Survey or Amazon

And don’t forget your compass, I recommend the Silva Expedition compass

For online maps, you can get via OS Online App or Viewranger App.

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

Wooden post on path
Wooden post where you turn off Pennine Way

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).

Path with Higher Shelf Stones hill in sight
Higher Shelf Stones hill to the right

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.

Person walking on path
Heading towards Higher Shelf Stones summit

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.

Trig point at Higher Shelf Stones summit
Trig point at Higher Shelf Stones summit

Stage 2 – Higher Shelf Stones to Shelf Brook (Doctor’s Gate)

Distance: 2 mile/3.3 km

Grid reference SK 08894 94785

Bleaklow plane crash site
Bleaklow plane crash site

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.

Narrow path and small tarn
Small tarn on your walk 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.

Public footpath signpost to Doctor's Gate path
Public footpath signpost to Doctor’s Gate path

Stage 3 – Shelf Brook to Snake Pass

Distance: 2.2 miles/3.6 km

Grid reference SK 06422 94414

Purple heather and path
Beautiful purple heather on Doctor’s Gate path

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!

Rugged path up Doctor's Gate path
Rugged path up Doctor’s Gate path

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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