I’m still undergoing my hiking training in preparation for the trek in Transylvania to raise money for Mind. So in search of seeking out some good local places to walk, we set off for the Peak District, which is about an hour or so away from where we live.
Mam Tor was our destination; a rather large hill in Castleton. With an elevation of 515m, it was the perfect training ground for me.
We’d decided to take the circular route from Castleton as this would give us a total walking time of around four hours. Ignoring all sound advice from the lady in the visitor’s centre (because who wants to do things the easy way?!), we set off in the opposite direction, towards the steep climb out of a fairly dramatic looking valley. Walking up the side of the road towards Speedway cavern and Blue John Mine, the scenery was impressive, making me feel quite ‘hobbit-like’ due to the size and greenery of the hills surrounding us.
After a bit of creative navigation (we were following this brilliant guide but the signs aren’t great for the path), we found two routes up Mam Tor. We pot-lucked our way up the path to the right, eventually reaching what resembled a slight scramble up the hill to reach the main path. About half way up, I heard one woman remark to her walking partner “Oh I’m glad we are coming down this way rather than scrambling up, that route would have been awful“. Gee thanks lady. As you’ll have guessed, she was travelling in the opposite direction to us, making me wonder if I should have chosen the left path after all.
At the top of the scramble was a clearer path, steeply rising up the hillside. Given that we were fairly near the edge, my unhelpful feeling of ‘wobbliness’ started to surface. I’m not necessarily afraid of heights, but they do make me feel incredibly unstable. I fixed my eyes to the ground and just focused on putting one foot in front of the other. Before I knew it, we were at the top with an amazing view. We stayed for a while watching people paraglide whilst we had lunch.
A little side note: John West tuna lunch pots seem to have become my hiking lunch of choice. There is a gluten free / dairy free one and it’s easy to pack in a day sack. It’s either that or chocolate spread on gluten free bread – either way, I seem to have become stuck in a kind of lunch ‘dead-end’ – if other people have better hiking lunches – let me know!!!
At the top of Mam Tor was a trig point surrounded by little stone images of faces and huts – if anyone knows what their meanings are, I’d be interested to learn!
Looking over to the right, we could see the other path up the hill, which looked far easier and much less steep, but at least I’d had a good work out and pushed myself on a couple of ridge edges.
Once we were suitably fed, watered and recovered from the climb, we set off to the left along the marked stone path. This was much easier going and it became clear why the lady in the visitor’s centre has suggested to take this route. Coming up this path was a much gentler incline and would have much more clearly marked the route.
Passing Black Tor and Lose Hill Pike, we then started to cross a beautiful wooded area which was more stunning (to me at least) than the moors and fields. There is a pull I feel towards trees and woods that I just don’t experience in fields and out on the moors. It’s like an automatic ‘mood-boost’ and I feel much more connected to my surroundings.
Whilst the valley had been beautiful to drive through on the way to Mam Tor, it was the small tree lined area that stuck in my mind long after the walk.
Heading out of the trees and into the fields, our sense of direction failed us again as the path became unclear. A mother and daughter pair were also struggling with the route and we took it in turns to follow each other, sharing confused discussions on the same maps we were using.
Eventually, we crossed Spring House Farm and headed back towards Castleton. Next time, I’d look to extend the walk by heading to Hope first and then back to Castleton and maybe also taking some time to visit Peveril Castle, which looked intriguing, perched up high, keeping watch above the village.