USAF ‘Bleaklow Bomber’ Wreck That Became a Memorial
The B-29 crash site is one of the most surreal things I (Joel) have seen anywhere. It had been on my radar to visit for a long time but living so far away, it wasn’t viable. After we moved to Shropshire, it happened to be between where we live and where my dad lives, so it made perfect sense to take the opportunity to visit the B-29 crash site on my way home from my dad’s and enjoy a little bit of what the Peak District National Park has to offer at the same time.
It seems a bit odd to consider an aircraft crash site is somewhere you might want to visit, but it’s definitely worth it. Not only is it surreal, but it’s also a place where you can pay your respects to those who lost their lives in the crash. The site is now a memorial to those who lost their lives aboard the ‘Bleaklow Bomber’ where a memorial was laid on 13 November 1988 by 367 Air Navigation Course of RAF Finningley.
Despite the age of the wreck and being exposed to the elements of the Peak District, many of the parts of the aircraft are still in reasonable condition because they were made of aluminium. The surface of aluminium is protected by a natural layer of aluminium oxide which prevents it from rusting…who knew?! You will find parts of the Bleaklow Bomber spread over an area of around 150 metres or so.
How Did the B-29 Crash?
On November the 3rd 1948, a United States Air Force (USAF) Boeing B-29 Superfortress took off on a routine flight, heading for RAF Burtonwood, located near Warrington, Cheshire.
Unfortunately, the USAF B-29 crashed into Higher Shelf Stones on Bleaklow at around 11 am. There was a low lying cloud covering the hillside and it’s suggested the pilots thought they had flown past the danger of the hills. They hadn’t and they crashed, killing all 13 crew members.
Despite not being a bomber aircraft, the B-29 wreckage became known as the ‘Bleaklow Bomber’. It was, in fact, a modified reconnaissance version of the famous B-29 bomber, one of the largest aircraft in operation in the Second World War. The Bleaklow Bomber B-29 Superfortress belonged to the 16th Photographic Reconnaissance and in a previous life, had been used to photograph nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll, a coral reef in the Marshall Islands, located in the middle of nowhere in the North Pacific Ocean. For this reason, the B-29 was nicknamed ‘Over Exposed’.
Where Is the B-29 Crash Site?
The B-29 Crash site is located near Higher Shelf Stones on the Peak District, approximately 4 miles east of Glossop, Derbyshire. If you are travelling from Glossop, head east along the A57 (AKA Snake Pass and Snake Road), following signs for Sheffield, until you reach the summit. If you’re coming from Sheffield, head west, following signs for Glossop.
You’ll know you’re at the summit because there are bus stops and lay-bys on either side of the road. You’ll find plenty of parking up there but there’s no car park. Below is the postcode but you’re better off using the pin on the Google Map below.
Postcode: SK13 7PQ
And below is the exact location on Google Maps.
If you’re using other forms of navigation, below are the grid reference and What3Words.
Grid reference: SK090949
If you’re using public transport to get to the Bleaklow Bomber, you might be out of luck. There used to be the X57 service between Sheffield centre and Manchester centre, but at the time of writing, that route is no longer running. Here’s the link anyway, just in case it gets turned back on!
B-29 Crash Site Walk
Finding the Bleaklow Bomber crash site should be a breeze. It’s also an enjoyable walk. Below is a map to help you navigate, should you need it. From the road, look for the path heading north. The path is well beaten because it’s the Pennine Way and you can’t miss it. Follow the Pennine Way for 1.5 miles or so then look to peel off the path on the left, where you are likely to see tracks leading away from the main path. There are alternative routes to get to the site but in poor weather, they might be boggy and difficult to navigate, so I recommend you stick to the Pennine Way.
I recommend taking a picnic and sitting at the trig point at Higher Shelf Stones. You get a pretty awesome view into the valley towards Glossop and you might even spot a shaggy sheep who wants to share your sandwiches.
For more info on the B-29 Crash Site, click HERE.
If you’re looking for other things to do in the Peak District, check out our guide to the Monsal Trail.
-Bleaklow Bomber B-29 Crash Site-