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Crash Sites & Walks

Aviation History & The Dark Peak

There are an incredible 173 military  air plane crash sites in the wider Peak District, and several of them are accessible from Glossop by foot.

The northern end of the national park, where Glossop is situated, is dominated by the high moors of Bleaklow, Kinder Scout, Midhope and Saddleworth, which together form the area known as the Dark Peak. 

The Dark Peak is a dramatic landscape dominated by imposing, high moors. It owes its name and its character to its geology of millstone grit sandstone, which has given rise to the distinctive, dark landscape. The land is largely uninhabited moorland, interspersed by rocky cloughs and wide valleys, with most depressions filled with bogs and black peat.  Between the high moorland plateaus are steep sided valleys, several of which contain reservoirs.

Over the years, a high number of military aircraft have crashed in the Dark Peak district, driven by a combination of poor visibility, the bleak landscape, numerous nearby air bases, inexperienced pilots and primitive / faulty equipment.  Substantial wreckage remains at several sites. 

The Bleaklow Bomber

Arguably the most famous crash site in the area is that of the Bleaklow Bomber, also known as B-29 Superfortress Over Exposed. 

The aircraft was a US Boeing RB-29A Superfortress that had been modified as a reconnaissance aircraft. It crashed in Bleaklow, near Higher Shelf Stones, in 1948 and the wreckage is still visible, widespread and tangible, which creates a visceral experience for any history enthusiast.

Online sources suggest the aircraft bore the name Over Exposed after it was flown in July 1946 by the 509th Composite Group during Operation Crossroads to photograph nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll, including the dropping of an atomic bomb by B-29 Superfortress Dave's Dream. The aircraft had also taken part in the Berlin airlift during 1948.

The aircraft crashed on 3rd November 1948.  It was on a routine daytime flight leaving RAF Scampton, Lincoln to head for the US Air Force base near Warrington, Cheshire.  The pilot, Captain Landon Tanner, and co-pilot Captain Harry Stroud, were flying by instruments as the area was covered in low cloud. The crew believed it had passed the hills and began to descend before time. It was engulfed in flames when it crash landed on the moors and everyone aboard was tragically  killed. 

Suggested routes and trails

The B-29 Over Exposed crash site is reachable from Glossop by foot, or from a layby on the Snake Pass. It’s important to attempt the moderately challenging walk in good weather and with good light remaining as it can be dangerous in darker/bleaker weather.  It is dog friendly. Remember to take water and snacks for yourself and your furry friends, and suncream in hotter weather, as well as maps and fully charged phones.  As the circular walk is a longer one with little shade available, it’s advisable to leave dogs at home in warmer weather. 

The best route is a circular one from Shepley’s Cafe, Old Glossop, although there are numerous ways to get there. Fill up on wonderful veggie grub and then head to Doctor’s Gate via Shepley Street to begin the 11 mile round walk.  Stay on the Doctor’s Gate path until the intersection with the Pennine Way, and head a little further until you see a path that turns off North East. Follow the path along the East side of Crooked Clough past a waterfall, and then curve North West towards Higher Shelf Stones. At the Trig Point, grab a selfie and then turn north east - the crash site is a few minutes’ walk away.

Upon your return to Old Glossop, head up the hill to the right and treat yourself to a well earned pint from Distant Hills Brewery - one craft beer by the brand is named Superfortreess after the local history site. 

Curated walks and local guides

If you’re not a seasoned walker, Emily Taylor at Trigs and Teeth is a Hill and Moorland leader and runs regular walks in the High Peak including guided hikes to the Bleaklow Bomber site. Follow her on Instagram here. 

Do you have anything to add? Which is your favourite site to visit or best route? We want to curate our place together so get in touch at with any suggestions.

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