Here to tell us her professional opinion on where you should be walking this month, is Cath Lee of Peak Walking Adventures.
Peak District Walk of the Month: February
In Search of Mountain Hares on Bleaklow
The winter months are a great time to see mountain hares on the high moorlands of the Dark Peak and Bleaklow is one of the places where you stand a good chance of spotting some.
These beautiful creatures change colour during the winter months when their brown summer coats turn white to camouflage them against the snow. However the high moorlands of the Peak District are frequently without a covering of snow these days as winters have become warmer, so they can be really easy to spot against the dark coloured peat and heather.
Mountain Hares died out in the Peak District about 6,000 years ago but were re-introduced in the late 1800s to provide a wider variety of game for shooting parties. These days they are no longer shot but can add an element of excitement to a walk should you be lucky enough to see one.
A good place to start is to park at Snake Summit which is the highest point on the A57 Snake Pass road as it passes between the Peak District’s two highest hills, Kinder Scout and Bleaklow. This is the point where the Pennine Way footpath crosses over the road and leads up onto the wild expanse of Bleaklow before eventually taking you down the other side of the hill to Torside Reservoir. You can walk along the Pennine Way path for as far as you want to, and then turn around to retrace your steps back to Snake Summit.
If you are feeling a little more adventurous, you may with to leave the path and find your way over the remote moorland to visit other points of interest. From the trig point at Higher Shelf Stones on a clear day you can enjoy fabulous views over the surrounding moorland and down to the town of Glossop. A visit to one or more of the World War II air crash sites that are located up there can also add an interesting element to a walk.
Be warned though! Bleaklow can be a wild and inhospitable place in winter and it’s a long way from help if you need it. To venture even along the Pennine Way footpath it is essential that you have a map, a compass, and good navigation skills to enable you to find your way. Don’t rely solely on a navigation app on your mobile phone, as for many different reasons you could end up in difficulty. It is equally important that you have good walking boots and suitable outdoor clothing including a few spare warm layers carried in your rucksack to put on if necessary. If you do fancy trying out this walk it’ll be entirely at your own risk (don’t say we didn’t warm you)!
If you are lucky enough to see a mountain hare, you may wish to participate in the community science project being run by the Moors for the Future Partnership by reporting your sighting.