This is an easy walk over and beyond the Peak District's most fascinating hill - Mam Tor. Steeped in history dating back to the Bronze Age, the hill is also an amazing example of geology and it is still possible to see it shaping itself today. The walk is along simple well laid footpaths most of the way and the ascents are fairly easy.
You will head over Mam Tor then follow the crest of The Great Ridge whose grand profile separates the beautiful Hope and Edale Valleys until you reach its end at Lose Hill, another hill with an interesting history. This walk is an amazing mix of natural history combined with vast and beautiful panoramic views into the heart of the Peak District. This is an ideal walk when you only have a few hours.
This walk starts from the National Trust's Mam Nick car park. The car park is off Sheffield Road between the A6 at Chapel-en-le-Frith and the Winnats Pass above Castleton. If approaching from the A6 follow the signs for Edale. If approaching from Castleton follow the signs for Chapel-en-le-Frith. The entrance is very close to the turning for Barber Booth and Edale. Click here to view on Google maps where you can also get directions.
Follow the path through the woods at the back of the car park. The path turns right and eventually reaches the minor road that passes over the nick between Rushup Edge and Mam Tor. Go through the wooden gate on the right to the well laid ascent path of Mam Tor. Follow this path which is made of huge slabs and after a surprisingly short ascent you will reach the summit of Mam Tor.
Mam Tor Summit
The summit of Mam Tor is surrounded by a complete and extensive ditch and rampart of a historic and grand fort, thought to have been of the late Bronze or early Iron Age. Little is known of the actual dates of the fort or the people who either lived in it or protected it. It is the second highest such fort in Britain and could well be one of the oldest. The oldest remaining features on the summit are two Bronze Age burial mounds - one is just before the summit, the other is under the actual summit itself where you will also find a stone trig pillar.
Mam Tor from Hollins Cross
Mam Tor is also known as the Shivering Mountain. The best analogy of Mam Tor is a cake with layers of gritstone and shale. The layers are formed from a river delta that existed in the area around 300 million years ago. The hill is named Shivering Mountain as it has shifted in directions that have forced the outer walls of the hill to crumble away. The movement is caused by heavy rainfalls that find ways between the different layers of rock creating an unstable situation leading to the landslides. To this day the mountain still moves at a pace of around a metre every five years. Its landslides can be serious and in 1977 the main A625 road was closed forever after virtually disappearing as another major landslide completely destroyed the road. The wrecked road still exists and is a real eye opener.
From the summit of Mam Tor head north to north-west along the obvious path. On a clear day you will see the path is straightforward as it follows the crest of the ridge. As the path descends Mam Tor towards Hollins Cross it passes through a gate. You will soon reach Hollins Cross. At Hollins Cross there is a large round stone cairn. Here paths from Castleton to the south and Edale to the North cross over the ridge. I you look south-east across the Hope Valley from here you may see Peveril Castle above Castleton. To the north the Kinder Plateau above Edale.
Carry on along the ridge path heading up and over the small brow of Barker Bank. As you come down the other side Back Tor will come into view. Back Tor is an impressive hill scarred by a dramatic landslide. It is a great view ahead with the rough and disturbed sheer cliffs of Back Tor on the left and the beautiful trees of the Brockett Booth Plantation on the right. After descending Barker Bank to Backtor Nook, cross the stile so that you are on the left side of the fence. From here you can now tackle the short yet surprisingly loose and rocky ascent of Back Tor.
Back Tor in Winter
From Back Tor there is now a straight forward final leg to Lose Hill. The path is again straightforward following a stone wall along the crest of the ridge. There is a slight descent to a large wooden stile, followed by a short ascent to the summit. At Lose Hill summit there is an impressive tumulus with a topographic view finder on the top. From Lose Hill the views are stunning on a clear day. The Kinder Plateau to the west over the beautiful Edale Valley and directly across the valley to the east the pointy Win Hill.
Lose Hill and Win Hill are said to have been named after an ancient Saxon battle that took place in 626 BC. Rivals King Edwin of Northumbria and King Cuicholm of Wessex took their forces to the hills, Edwin on what is now known as Win Hill, and Cuicholm on what is now known as Lose Hill. When battle commenced Cuicholm's greater numbers were too overpowering for Edwin and Edwin ordered his troops to retreat. Sensing victory Cuicholm's men surged forwards, only to be crushed by boulders sent down the hill by Edwin's men. The hill that Edwin's men fought from then on known as Win Hill, and hill that Cuicholm's men chose is now known as Lose Hill.
Mam Tor from Back Tor
From Lose Hill simply retrace your steps back along the ridge over Back Tor, Barker Bank, Hollins Cross and Mam Tor. On your return journey you will see the fragile south eastern cliffs of Mam Tor. To descend from Mam Tor summit head south west and descend the well laid path you ascended earlier to reach the minor road at Mam Nick. Head south along the road for a few metres then follow the path through the woods returning to the Mam Nick Car Park. Before returning home I would highly recommend driving through the stunning Winnats Pass and experiencing the many warm and friendly outdoor shops, cafe's, restaurants and pubs in the picturesque Castleton village.