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Mam Tor and the Great Ridge

Mam Tor, Peak District

When you visit the quaint and popular Peak District Village of Castleton, you can’t fail to notice the surrounding hills and, in particular, the mighty Mam Tor (517m/1696ft) that stands proudly towards the north of the village. Peak Walking Adventures Guide, Rachel Bolton, tells us more…

Mam Tor means ‘Mother Hill’ and that’s exactly what you feel when you’re looking up at her! She is the protector of all the other surrounding hills and on her Eastern face, there have been many landslips resulting in mini (baby) hills beneath. This is largely due to the unstable lower layers of shale which also give the hill her the alternative name – ‘Shivering Mountain’. Recently, Mam Tor has become quite a celebrity and Instagram hit, due to the impressive sunrises often seen from the summit!

History, Geology and Landslides

There is evidence of habitation on Mam Tor dating back to the Bronze Age. The explorer will see evidence of ramparts from an Iron Age hill fort and two Bronze Age bowl barrows (burial chambers). As you walk up the main path to the summit from the road, there are information boards and replicas of Bronze Age life to view. Mam Tor was declared to be one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Peak’ by Thomas Hobbes in his 1636 book, De Mirabilibus Pecci. The rocks in this area date from the carboniferous age and are approximately 320 million years old. The base of the hill is composed of shale and sandstone. These shales and sandstone contribute to the dramatic rotational landslides seen on its south eastern flank. To see the evidence of the landslide, go and explore the old Mam Tor road which now, no longer in existence looks like the set of a natural disaster movie! The road was built in the 1800’s and was subsequently re-surfaced in the 1900’s and eventually closed to traffic in 1979. This leaves the magnificent limestone gorge of Winnats Pass as the only road route from Castleton to the West.

Peveril Castle, Cave Dale

The Best Walking Route From Castleton

There are many wonderful walking routes to explore in the area that include Mam Tor and the Great Ridge. One of the best is to leave Castleton via its back door and go for a walk up Cave Dale. Cave Dale is the start of the Limestone Way which is a superb 46 mile route across the White Peak landscape of the Peak District National Park. Cave Dale was initially formed by glacial melt water carving a deep narrow valley. The river flowed underground and created some magnificent caverns and potholes which can be explored by the public – Peak Cavern has an entrance that emerges in Cave Dale. Look up high to your right and you will also see Peveril Castle. Well worth a visit, the ruined castle (1086) dates back to William the Conqueror’s reign. Cave Dale is a wonderful place to view wild flowers, mosses and lichens in the spring and summer seasons.

As you emerge out of the dale, look for evidence of lead mining – there are spoil heaps and lead mining shafts littering the area. You’ll follow a series of interesting and historical walled lanes and tracks to reach the foot of Mam Tor, passing closely by Windy Knoll Cavern which contained fossils and animal bones. From here it is a short walk up the main path to the summit of Mam Tor, where the view is certainly worth the effort. From here you can see north over Kinder Scout and the Dark Peak, and south across the White Peak. The chimney dominating the view over Castleton is part of Breedon Hope Cement works, started in 1929. It is strictly monitored with tight planning restrictions, given its location in the Peak District National Park.

Take a Walk Along the Great Ridge

From this wonderful summit, your view will fall on the broad ridge extending away to the East. This is locally known as the Great Ridge and it is a wonderful 3km walk across to the final summit, Lose Hill. There is one steep ascent on to Back Tor, but this is soon over and walking the ridge is pure joy. This route is understandably incredibly popular but there is room for everyone to enjoy it and the paths have been well maintained.

From Lose hill, it is possible to return direct to Castleton. Alternatively, you can extend the walk by descending to the village of Hope, returning to Castleton via the Hope Valley, on field paths by Peakshole Water.

Enjoy a well earned cuppa or local ice cream in the many cafes and pubs in Castleton. Or take a look in the shops at the jewellery made from the excusive, locally mined, ‘Blue John’ stone. If you have some energy left, you can visit the four wonderful caves at the Blue John Mine!

Would you Like to Walk Mam Tor with Peak Walking Adventures?

Our longer walks that incorporate Mam Tor and the Great Ridge

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