Mam Tor and The Great Ridge

The Great Ridge

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 who's 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.

Route Directions

  1. This walk starts from the National Trust's Mam Nick car park. The car park is situated on Sheffield Road between the A6 at Chapel-en-le-Frith and the Winnats Pass above Castleton at grid reference SK 123 831.
  2. Take the route out of the back of the car park up the steep and rather large steps. The path turns right and ascends towards Mam Tor.
  3. After around two hundred metres of ascent the path reaches the minor road that passes over the col between Rushup Edge and Mam Tor.
  4. As the path meets the road you will see a gate on the right hand (eastern) side of the road, walk through the gate and ascend the steps of the well laid path that takes you to the summit of Mam Tor.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. The hill is also known locally 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 the Shivering Mountain as it has shifted in directions that have forced the outer walls of the hill to crumble away.
  8. 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.
  9. From the summit of Mam Tor descend the obvious path that heads off down its north western flank in the direction of the ridge. The path from here is very straightforward as it follows the crest of the ridge.
  10. The path drops down to reach the col between Mam Tor and Barker Bank known as Hollins Cross. If you look to the right across the Hope Valley from here you will now see the Peveril Castle above Castleton and the huge gash of the Peak Cavern.
  11. Carry on along the ridge path and ascend up and over the small brow of Barker Bank. As you come over the other side of it another impressive hill scarred by a dramatic landslide will come in to view straight ahead. This is Back Tor.
  12. The rough and disturbed cliffs of Back Tor make a cracking photo from this angle. Keep going along the obvious ridge path and ascend the loose but short climb to the top of Back Tor.
  13. From Back Tor there is now a straight forward final ascent to Lose Hill. The summit of Lose Hill has an impressive tumulus with a topographic view finder on the top. From Lose hill there is a full panorama stretching from the Kinder Plateau over the beautiful Edale Valley to the west then round to Win Hill directly to the East.
  14. The only blot on this beautiful landscape are the huge chimney and buildings of the Blue Circle cement works that lie just behind the villages Hope and Castleton in the valley below. Looking back along the ridge you can see the greatness of its stature and location that give it its well deserved title.
  15. Lose Hill and Win Hill - the pointy mountain directly across the valley - 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.
  16. 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.
  17. From Lose Hill simply follow your footsteps back along the ridge over Back Tor, Barker Bank, Hollins Cross returning to Mam Tor, who's fragile south eastern aspect you will get a good view of one the return leg.
  18. To descend from Mam Tor summit head south west down the well laid path to the road. Head south along the road for a few metres then follow a path to the left of the road that heads down steps to the back of the Mam Nick car park.
  19. 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 villages.
  20. On your way there, just half a kilometre east along the road from the Mam Nick car park, turn left towards the Blue John Cavern. At the end of the road, which is the old route of the A625, you can park up and take a look down at the old abandoned collapsed road.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer OL1 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 110 Map Click to buy Collins Ramblers Guide Peak District Click to buy Pathfinder Guides Peak District

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Fairfield Horseshoe from Ambleside

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.