Longdendale to Bleaklow Head in the Peak District, 6 November 2018

Although I set off from home in misty/ murky conditions, by the time I approached Buxton, there were breaks appearing in the sky and the weather looked much more promising. I was on my way to Longdendale, east of Manchester to climb the Peak District’s second highest hill, Bleaklow Head, 633m high. I was going to follow the Pennine Way route up along the edge of Torside Clough to the summit, descend along the course of Near Black Clough to Woodhead and then back along the Trans Pennine Trail to my starting point, a walk of around 10 miles, 16km. I also planned to photograph the waterfall in Middle Black Clough.

I parked at the car park at Torside and set off westwards along the Trans Pennine Trail for about a mile. This follows the course of the former electrified main railway line from Sheffield to Manchester closed in 1981. I walked across the wide mouth of Torside Clough and joined the Pennine Way path that climbed steeply up the western edge of Torside Clough. As I climbed higher, the clough narrowed until I reached its end. The path now turned eastwards across the desolate moorland and then south to the cairn at Bleaklow Head. The peace and quiet had been disturbed only by a helicopter flying engaged in moorland restoration that was flying back and forth, and by the occasional aircraft approaching Manchester Airport.

Looking back to Longdendale from the Pennine Way path up Torside Clough
The wide mouth of Torside Clough
The summit cairn at Bleaklow Head

I didn’t linger at Bleaklow Head, or even visit the nearby Wain Stones, because the weather had turned overcast and didn’t feel that pleasant. I headed across the moorland to pick up the path down Near Black Clough and followed it for about three miles, passing another walker on the way, the first person I’d encountered on the walk. Eventually I reached some woodland resplendent in autumn colour and a final steep descent to the confluence of Near, Middle and Far Black Cloughs. I’d read that there was an impressive waterfall in Middle Black Clough and set off to find it. After scrambling up the side of the clough for about 500 metres, I arrived at the waterfall with its 9 metre drop. Although low on water, it still made an impressive scene, which I duly photographed.

Middle Black Clough waterfall
The woodland below Middle Black Clough waterfall

I returned back to where the three cloughs met and photographed one of the attractive cascades downstream. From there, it was a short walk to the mouth of the former Woodhead railway tunnels, the new one now being used to carry high voltage grid cables to avoid the need for pylons across the moor. The new tunnel was built when the line was electrified and opened in 1954; six workers died in its construction. It had a tragically short life for rail traffic being closed in 1981. A three mile walk then followed along the course of the old railway back to the car park at Torside.

Cascade below the confluence of Near, Middle and Far Black Cloughs
The former Woodhead rail tunnels; the original single bore tunnels on the left and the new tunnel on the right. The former Woodhead platforms can also be seen
Screen Shot 2018-11-07 at 11.56.38
The route taken

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