Bleaklow is the northern sister to Kinder, joined to it by a neck of high land over 500 metres above sea level, over which pass the Snake Road and the old Roman road of Doctor's Gate. It is an area of typical gritstone plateau, largely covered in a deep layer of peat.
Bleaklow inevitably invites comparison with its larger and better-known neighbour, Kinder. Bleaklow is a larger area than Kinder in total, but includes less land over 600 metres above sea level. Bleaklow has a less well-pronounced series of gritstone edges around its circumference, and its contours are more rounded than Kinder's, but it is less accessible and more remote with fewer paths and fewer features which aid navigation. Though Bleaklow has a smaller area covered in peat than Kinder, its peat bogs seem uniquely boggy and are criss-crossed with deep groughs which make traverses of them extremely hard work.
In a Bleaklow peat grough
Like Kinder, the edge of Bleaklow is studded with rocky outcrops and heavily eroded gritstone rocks. On the southern side lie Shelf Stones, on the northern edge are Rollick Stones and Shining Clough - a high quality climbing edge - to the east are Bleaklow Stones, Grinah Stones and Barrow Stones, and below the high point of Bleaklow Head are Hern Stones and Wain Stones - often depicted as the 'kissing' stones because of their outline.
However, the Bleaklow plateau is cut by many more deep river valleys than the Kinder plateau, and many of these contain major streams. On the south eastern flank the Alport river forms a long deep-cut valley, as does the Westend river, while to the east of these the River Derwent rises on the extreme eastern edge of the plateau near Swains Greave. On the north-eastern flank there are the deep cuts of the three Black Clough streams and to their west, the similar features of Wildboar Clough and Torside Clough. On the western side Dowstone Clough forms a deep valley on its way down to Glossop.
Apart from the badly eroded (and now largely paved) route of the Pennine Way, which traverses from Doctor's Gate to Torside, via Hern Clough and Bleaklow Head, there are no real paths on Bleaklow. This makes this area a paradise for the connoisseur bog-trotter who enjoys the challenge of crossing a trackless wilderness, possibly in cloud, rain or snow - for the weather up here is usually wet and can be severe. There are numerous aircraft wrecks up here, which attract enthusiasts who attempt to locate the remains - often a difficult task even though their location is quite well documented.
Not surprisingly, the most common ways to approach Bleaklow are along the Pennine Way, either from the north up Torside Clough or the south from Doctor's Gate. It is also quite easy to approach the western flanks from Old Glossop, but any approach from the east or north tends to be hard work and often involves covering quite long distances.