Bleaklow and Beyond by Bus

I’ve been meaning to take the Hulleys of Baslow X57 bus service for some time. The company is 100 yrs old this year and provides a brilliant service enabling public transport (in an era where bus travel is a rapidly dying species) in to the heart of the Peak District National Park.

There is a stop for the X57 about a mile from my flat. The X57 journeys from Sheffield to Manchester via the A57 ‘Snake Pass’ road. On Sundays it also makes a 10 minute diversion to facilitate access to Fairholmes in the Upper Derwent Valley – a brilliant facility. On I hopped. The driver calculated the cheapest ticket for me. £5.

The Pennine Way crosses the A57 on the summit of Snake Pass at a height of about 500m / 1640ft. That uplift alone was worth the £5. My intention was to wind back downhill across the moors of the Dark Peak. It started by following thirty people towards Bleaklow. I have no idea where the wooden Pennine Way finger post has gone, or why the first kilometre or so towards Bleaklow seems to be compressed sandstone. I got a shifty on and passed the crowd and followed the PW on its twists and turns to the Wain Stones on Bleaklow Head. East next. A line of stakes to follow off across Bleaklow. A hare darts past. There is a backdrop of birdsong. Bleaklow Hill and then Bleaklow Stones. Lunch here. And a weather check. It was due to pour at some point. I decided against the Watershed route, and instead set the compass for The Ridge and the saddle above (North of) Alport Moor. By the time I was on the high ground above Alport Plantations the snow was falling and the temperature was demanding another layer. I put a mid layer on under my Paramo windproof opting to be warm but wet rather than encumbered by waterproofs. Then the snow turned to rain and really started to fall. I decided to stop at Birchin Hat above Alport Castles to don full Gore-tex. And as I arrived there the sun came out in an instant. I laid my wet things out over a wall and took some photographs of the Castles. On to Rowlee Pasture and Lockerbrook.

And on to Crook Hill. This area is a place I use frequently when teaching ‘intro to navigation’ courses. I’m quite well acquainted with every bend in the wall and the ring contours of the twin tops of the hill. What I had no prior knowledge of was the honesty box for cakes in the farmyard of Crookhill Farm. Two pounds got me a slice of sugar kick for the tarmac slapping across the aqueduct and alongside the A57 to the bus stop outside the Ladybower Inn. The buses on a Sunday are 2 hours apart in both directions so I was trying not to arrive with a long wait. I had about ten minutes. Job done. Bus back (almost) home. Thanks Hulleys.

The route is 21.5km, mostly of decent paths or tracks on moorland.
You can view it, download it, or even fly-through it on your sofa (via the Ordnance Survey website) here – https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/route/8351207/Bleaklow-and-Beyond-by-Bus

The Peak District National Park has very good access by public transport (bus and train) from the major cities that lie to its East (Sheffield) and West (Manchester), which allows you to forget about the car parking costs and the risk to your car in a remote lay-by. You can even enjoy a beverage before heading home !!

The X57 bus service is provided by http://www.hulleys-of-baslow.co.uk

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