Friday 23rd August 2013
8 miles approx.
Toilets: Public toilets, cafes and pubs in Castleton and Hope; Outside Speedwell Cavern; Treak Cliff Cavern; Blue John Cavern.
We spent a week in Castleton in the Peak District. No holiday in Castleton would be complete without a walk up Mam Tor, so off we went on a circular route across Mam Tor, Hollins Cross, Back Tor, Lose Hill and down to Hope. Mam Tor and Lose Hill were the main landmarks we could see from Castleton. As a Londoner, this route felt just right – enough of a challenge, just the right amount of ascent, but not a mountain, and achievable in half a day. I’m capable of walking long distances over relatively flat landscapes, but we don’t exactly have many hills where I come from. The summit of Mam Tor is 517 metres up, but Castleton is already about 200m above sea level.
We started by taking the footpath off Goosehill, leading to Speedwell Cavern.
Next to Speedwell Cavern was Winnats Pass, a picturesque road which is very steep for vehicles. (This photo was taken a few days beforehand, which is obvious from the colour of the sky).
Rather than walking up Winnats Pass, we continued north and then west along a footpath which took us past Treak Cliff Cavern. Below us, we could see the abandoned part of the A625 road that was closed in 1979. Continued landslip from Mam Tor over thousands of years meant that the road had little chance, and it was eventually decided to abandon it and let nature take over. Parts of the road were completely warped, and parts had disappeared altogether.
Our route continued past Blue John Cavern, Winnats Head Farm and Windy Knoll. This route was chosen to make the walk as easy as possible. We finally had a good view of Mam Tor itself, with clear evidence of thousands of years of landslip.
Mam Tor and the entire ridge were paved. This made it less “natural”, but it’s such a popular route that something had to be done to stop the hills eroding. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, something had to be done to protect the hills without limiting access.
Plus, I must admit, these stairs made it much easier to get to the top.
Here’s the trig point at the top! It was really windy up there, but luckily the ridge was wide enough for lots of people to walk along it safely. Once we reached the summit, there was relatively little ascent for the rest of the walk.
Here’s the view along the rest of the ridge up to Lose Hill. The hardest part was Back Tor, which was quite steep and was verging on a scramble in a couple of places, but that only lasted a few minutes.
From the summit of Lose Hill, it was a pleasant walk back down via various footpaths to Hope, where we stopped for drink at the excellent pub attached to the Old Hall Hotel. From there, we took the main road back to Castleton. A few times during the week while going between Castleton and Hope, we took the pleasant footpath next to Peakshole water, which felt nice and cold to splash around in during hot days. We also once took the minor road via Pindale Farm, which takes you along a ridge with lovely views down into the valley below.