England,  Routes

Hike to The Emotional B29 ‘Over Exposed’ Crash Site


A bit of history about B29 ‘Over Exposed’ Crash

The B29 ‘Over Exposed Crash’ site and Higher Shelf Stones is in the Peak District National Park in England. The walk is a great one for the history lovers. However, even without a visit to the B29 ‘Over Exposed’ Crash site, the walk itself is peaceful and captivating. Not to mention the view from the top at Higher Shelf Stones is spectacular as well.

On 3rd November 1948, an unfortunate event happened where a B29 Superfortress aircraft crashed to the ground on Bleaklow moors. The US Airforce B29 plane was carrying 13 crew members, who sadly all lost their lives on impact. Today much of the debris from the plane is still present on the hills of Bleaklow.

In 1988, 40 years on from the accident, The Royal Air Force, Finningley made an official memorial at the site, enabling people to have a place to go and pay their respects to those fallen. The memorial sorrowfully states: ‘It is doubtful the crew ever saw the ground’.

What is a B29 Superfortress?

The USA Airforce B29 Superfortress plane was designed by Boeing and was part of the 16th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron. The plane had previously been used to photograph nuclear testing, including the dropping of an atomic bomb.

Why did the B29 crash in 1948?

During a routine daytime flight from RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire to the US Airforce Base, Warrington, it’s believed that the pilots of the B29 had poor visibility, due to cloud cover. Therefore, thinking they had already passed the hills of Bleaklow, the aircraft unfortunately hit the ground around 2,000 feet above sea level.

The B29 ‘Over Exposed’ Site

A lot of the debris remains on the hill today, along with the memorial mentioned above. The Duplew-Cyclone engines still remain at the site, as well as sections of the wings, gun turrets and fuselage.

On visiting the site, you will be astonished that after 70+ years, the debris of the plane is still well-preserved and still in place at the site of the accident. The wreckage is spread over a few hundred metres showing how bad the destruction really was. When you understand what happened on that day over 70 years ago, this walk becomes an extremely emotional one. However, despite the sadness of the reality of this site, it is well worth seeing for yourself.

Things to know before you go…

As mentioned above the views along the walk and especially from Higher Shelf Stones are spectacular. But that’s not surprising since the area is the third highest place in the Peak District at 2,000ft (610metres) above sea level.

Grid reference to the B29 ‘Over Exposed’ crash site

The grid reference for the site is: SK 090949.

The B-29 site is 4 miles east of Glossop, just off the A57 Snake Pass. We highly recommend using the grid reference for this one as the route isn’t obvious, we easily went off track when we visited. (oops).

Where to park…

There is a layby on Snake Pass with limited parking spaces, free of charge. However, this may fill up quickly on weekends so prepare to go earlier before it gets busy. Alternatively, go later when the morning lot have gone, or better still, on a weekday if you can.

Post code: SK13 7PQ.

About the route…

The distance of the route is approximately 5-6km (3.6miles-ish). Following the trail up to Bleaklow Head, you come to the trig point at Higher Shelf Stones, from there you can find the way to the site. The elevation of the route was around 170metres for us.

The walk took us around 2.5 hours there and back. This was with going a little off track, as well as stopping to see the wreckage, pay our respects and admire the views from Higher Shelf Stone.   

The difficulty of this walk was easy-moderate, it is a fairly simple walk, but the weather can make all the difference, so please prepare for whatever the weather may bring. Despite being a warm day, it was also VERY windy on our visit, so neck warmers, hats, windproof jackets and gloves were a must! As well as good sturdy walking boots, of course. My best friend took us here as a surprise and I didn’t go prepared for the wind, so I had a fleece over my head the whole time ha-ha! That’s your warning to learn from my mistakes :).

Top tips

See our Hiking Resources for more tips before you head out.

However, before you go on this particular walk, please remember you are visiting a memorial site, so be respectful. Note that there’s no facilities on this walk, so take snacks and drinks with you, but please take your rubbish home as always. There are also no toilet facilities here, so maybe stop in Glossop before you head up snake pass to be on the safe side. Stick to the paths and location the site on Google maps before you head out and you should find it just fine.

Thank you for reading, we hope you found this helpful. If you did, please let us know in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you.

Lu & Ad x

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