The Mam Tor and Great Ridge Circular Walk

Mam Tor: An Epic Walk with Epic Views

by Sue Talbot

Dominating the skyline above Hope Valley in the Derbyshire Peak District, Mam Tor is a prominent hill known for its stunning views and geological features.

Views over the stunning Hope Valley.

Looming 517 metres above the valley, this distinctive peak is shrouded in history. At its summit are the remains of an ancient hill fort, believed to have once been occupied by a Celtic settlement. These remains can still be traced today, and this prehistoric past adds another element of intrigue to a hike up Mam Tor.

While there are several walking routes to the summit, the Mam Tor Circular Route from the village of Castleton is my favourite.

Mam Tor and Great Ridge Walk Circular Tour Map.

Mam Tor Circular Walk

Beginning in Castleton, a picturesque village lined with limestone cottages and hugged by patchwork fields, this circular route is approximately 14 kilometres (under seven miles) long and takes roughly 3–4 hours depending on your speed (or, in my case, how many photo stops you make!)

There’s plenty of parking available at Castleton Visitor Centre, but I’d recommend arriving early or midweek if possible.

Great Ridge Walk

From the bridge just off the main street, the well-marked trail leads you towards Lose Hill, which presents you with some fabulous views right from the start and sets you on the path along the Great Ridge.

A couple stand on the Great Ridge Walk in hiking gear, midway through the Mam Tor Circular Walk. The path is set in broad flagstones in the foreground, and in the background, the ridge of the hill marches ahead toward Mam Tor with steeply sided valleys dropping away on either side.

This epic ridge walk runs for three kilometres (almost two miles) and stretches from Castleton to the Vale of Edale. Along the trail you’ll ascend Back Tor, another lofty summit perfect for some Instagrammable shots of the Peak District!

Continuing to Hollins Cross, the lowest point along the Great Ridge, you’ll soon begin the climb to Mam Tor. In the summer months, the valley is carpeted in wildflowers, and on a clear day, the sunrise is out of this world. It’s definitely worth the early start to watch the fiery orange and red hues spreading across the landscape.

Mam Tor Summit

When you reach the summit of Mam Tor, you’re rewarded with sweeping views that stretch towards the horizon. To the north, you’ll see the iconic Kinder Scout and Edale Valley, while to the south stands Win Hill. The play of light and shadow on the undulating landscape creates a captivating scene that changes with the weather and the time of day.

Views from the summit of Mam Tor: patchwork fields spreading in all directions, lumped in places by the Peak District hills.
The trig point at the top of Mam Tor. A tapering stone structure with a flat top.

One of the fascinating aspects of Mam Tor is its geological significance. The hill is composed of layers of shale, sandstone and limestone, which have been shaped by millions of years of geological processes. The distinctive layered appearance of Mam Tor, known as the Shivering Mountain due to its unstable nature, serves as a humbling reminder of the Earth’s turbulent history and the forces that have shaped the Peak District landscape.

Winnats Pass

As you descend from Mam Tor, I highly recommend returning to Castleton via Winnats Pass. Resembling a scene from Lord of the Rings, this fantastical limestone gorge was formed millions of years ago after being submerged under water, and its name, meaning ‘wind gates’, derives from the whirling winds that pass through the gorge.

This is a great way to end your adventure before arriving back in the village of Castleton, where you can celebrate your achievements with a much-needed drink and some pub grub.

Incorporate the ridge on a long-distance walking holiday

The dramatic Great Ridge Walk section of the Mam Tor Circular Walk is included on the White Peak Way and the shorter White Peak Way North Section. It's a brilliant self-guided adventure in the Peaks. Find your holiday here:

Sue Talbot

Adventure Travel Blogger

Sue Talbot is an adventure travel blogger and iPhone photographer who’s often found hiking up the Lakeland fells or swimming in fairy pools. Her outdoor adventures and photographs can be found on her blog, Lifehop, and also her Lake District Lovers Facebook page.

Read more blogs by Sue Talbot

Originally published 22/05/24

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