This classic outing takes the route up the west side of Bleaklow, starting and finishing at Old Glossop and using the old packhorse or Roman road known as Doctor's Gate for the first section of the route. The first half of the route up onto Bleaklow is relatively straightforward, but the return route is not so easy to follow and the possibility of getting lost on Bleaklow should never be underestimated.
From the centre of Old Glossop take the road which follows the stream past a smelting works to reach the edge of the town. A well-made track continues alongside the stream and this is followed easily for two kilometres until it passes a small reservoir and branches, the right branch leading to a farm on the opposite bank. Continue up the valley on a narrower path, which starts to climb the hillside and continues ascending, sometimes quite steeply, for most of the next three kilometres before finally reaching the edge of the Bleaklow plateau.
Doctors Gate path
Along the next section of Doctor's Gate, across the high neck of land which is also crossed by the A57 'Snake' road, you can quite clearly see the stones of the old roadway. Unfortunately these are probably from the 17th or 18th century, when the route was the major route between Glossop and Sheffield (it gained its name from a Doctor Talbot who used it in the 17th century) rather than anything left by the Romans. But we can dream. This was the most probable line of the Roman road between Melandra and Navio.
At the top of the rise the path is crossed by the line of the Pennine Way, which is now a well-made path across the bog, so well-made you hardly get your feet dirty any more. Turn left and follow it alongside the drainage ditch known as Devil's Dike and then over a paved section which passes some heavily eroded areas which have been fenced to allow the vegetation to regenerate, and drop down into Hern Clough, one of the feeder streams for the Alport River which rises near to Bleaklow Head.
Wain Stones - near Bleaklow Head
The route follows Hern Clough upstream, sometimes paved to cut down the erosion, and with strange stone guide posts erected by the National Trust and which seem very out of place up here. Whatever the posts or the map say, the best way to reach our next objective, Bleaklow Head, is to follow the major stream uphill all the way until it peters out in a sandy area, by which time the large cairn which marks Bleaklow Head should be visible just to the north, probably about 200 metres away.
Leave Bleaklow Head heading in a north-westerly direction initially to pick up the headwaters of Wildboar Grain, one of the main tributaries of Torside Brook. There is a fairly well-marked path which follows the stream down on its route towards Longendale until it is met by more streams coming in from the left and a path which comes down from the Wain Stones. About 50 metres downstream of this stream junction a poorly marked path leads off west across the moor leading around the south side of Torside Castle, the Bronze Age earthwork which is almost the only landmark on this bleak stretch of moor.
The path crosses several small streams and a line of grouse butts before continuing north-west along the crest of a low ridge which separates Torside Clough from the cloughs which lead down to Glossop. This is difficult to follow in bad weather and it's rough ground too, so be warned. It eventually reaches the end of a land-rover track which is marked by a ruined hut on a low rise, and the navigational difficulties effectively over.
The next objective is Cock Hill, which lies nearly a kilometre to the south-west. However the direct route takes you over deep heather, so it is hard going. An easier alternative is to follow the land-rover track westwards for 500 metres to a fence and follow this downhill to a quarried area and the head of another track. This leads through the quarries of Cock Hill to the edge of the access land and then down a well-marked and fenced path which takes you back to the outskirts of Old Glossop, thereby completing the round trip.