Mam Tor, meaning ‘Mother Hill’, is a short and family-friendly trail near Castleton that is steeped in ancient history and takes in one of the Peak District’s most iconic views.
Edale, Peak District, Derbyshire, UK
13.7km (8.5 miles) 6 hours
Mam Tor is a 517m (1,696ft) hill near Castleton in the High Peak of Derbyshire, England. Its name means ‘mother hill’, so called because frequent landslips on its eastern face have resulted in a multitude of ‘mini-hills’ beneath it. These landslips, caused by unstable lower layers of shale, also give the hill its alternative name of Shivering Mountain.
Mam Tor is on the southern edge of the Dark Peak (sandstones) and overlooks the White Peak (limestones), including the notable dry gorge of Winnats Pass. It is a dominating link between the eastern end of Rushup Edge and the western end of the Great Ridge, which together separate the Hope Valley to the south from Edale to the north, and is a popular ridge walk.
Winnats Pass is a 9.3km road which winds around a cleft surrounded by towering limestone pinnacles. We walked on top of the limestone plateau and looked down at this winding road deep beneath the cleft.
Who walked with me?
An Australian friend of mine, Jacqueline Ballard, living in Northern England, guides me today. I can forget about navigation and follow her sure steps. Jacqueline is equipped like every English walker. A full Ordnance Survey Map of the area is placed upside down in a clear plastic waterproof sleeve or bag and hung around her neck. For quick reference fold the bag up towards you to read the perfectly oriented map. She also has a GPS with preloaded GPX files of the completed route as another reference point, but walkers in England are very adept at reading detailed Ordnance maps.
Just a packed lunch and water in a day pack with suitable hiking gear is all you need. We lunch halfway down the gorge that forms part of the Cave Dale Walk.
We follow a gentle ridge walk to Mam Tor, which takes an hour before descending towards the limestone pinnacles to view Winnats Pass from above.
It is a steep descent on the moderate-graded Cave Dale Walk past the 11th-century ruins of Peveril Castle and some disused mine entrances before you reach the valley floor in the township of Castleton. We then climb Lose Hill, steeper than it looks, to resume our ridgeline walk to the start of the Mam Tor ascent.
Having come full circle, we return to Edale to meet up with my sister and brother-in-law at The Rambler’s Inn, a cosy traditional English pub we are staying at before commencing The Pennine Way the next day. Jacqueline leaves us to ponder our next adventure, eager to join us later for the WOW factor days.