The first of my 14 summits in my 2014 challenge was the appropriately named Bleaklow Head, in the northern end of the Peak District.  Anyone who has tackled the Pennine Way will be familiar with this open peaty moor I am sure.

Starting my route from just above the Snake Pass in with Islay our Springer Spaniel, we made our way up the pass to Upper North Grain and headed off to find the hut and the rain gauge.  The sun was shining and it was looking like a good day!

From the hut we headed off towards the north west to pick up the Pennine way, pausing briefly to spot what I think may have been an Arctic Hare (well, a white one at least…) and for the gleeful Islay to accidentally immerse herself in a surprisingly deep pool of peaty water.  I did laugh.  Sorry Islay…

Meeting the Pennine way made the rest of the day fairly straightforward – go generally north to the top.  The grouse were teasing Islay with the throaty calls and flying off before she could get to them, she was having great fun!

As we got to Hern Clough the temperature started to drop, the wind was on the rise and the cloud covering the earlier blue skies.  With Islay now wet from splashing through the streams and bogs, we would need to keep any stops to a minimum especially on the top of the open moor.

Reaching the summit cairn, we were greeted with an experience I usually only encounter in the Lakes.  A group of 4 rather confused looking young men, who were on Bleaklow trying to get to Edale, and inexplicably thinking the way South was actually North.  I was happy to help them out as their leader noted how difficult it is to navigate that area.  Hmm…. it’s not called Bleaklow for nothing, but it helps if you know the difference between North and South…

I shouldn’t be quite so snooty though as we have all been confused and unsure about which way to go.  I remember being lost in the Glyderau a number of years ago and walking for an hour down the wrong side of the mountain so I am sympathetic to the plight of these young men.

Leaving the summit we headed back along the way we came towards Snake Pass before turning left and dropping down to Doctors Gate.  At last it began raining as we were about 10 mins from the car.  I say rain… There was rain, sleat, a bit of hail and thunder at lightening all in that last 10 minutes.

Back at the car and Islay leapt in the back.  If you were to look up the dictionary definition of ‘bedraggled’ it should have said ‘See Islay’… Bless her.

It was a great day, and a great way to start my 14 in 2014.


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