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Mam Tor and the Great Ridge
Statistics:
Map of the walk
Start:
Hope
Start (OS ref):
SK171839
Map (1:25,000):
Parking:
Street parking
Distance:
8.5 miles (13.6km)
Time:
4 hours
Difficulty:
Hard
Climbing:
505 metres
Hazards:
A few quite roads to negotiate.
Refreshments:
Hope, Castleton
Route Map:

Summary: Probably the most popular walk in the Peak District this route from Hope takes us to Castleton then on the Limestone Way and to Mam Tor and along the super ridge overlooking the Hope valley.

elevation profile

The Story of the Walk:

The spectacular September weather continued into our third day in the Peak District. And today was the hottest of the lot, warm even at 9.00am as we set off for the drive from Buxton to Hope. Today's walk was one of the Peak Districts most popular walks in probably it's most popular area, the Hope valley. Hope and it's neighbouring village of Castleton are always busy in summer, more so when the weather is as good as it was today. We expected crowds. We set off walking from Hope and as we walked over to Castleton the sound of cars was constant as they filled the valley roads. fortunately for our ears we left the noise of traffic as we left Castleton by ascending the Limestone Way past Peveril Castle towards Old Moor. The climb was steep and Dave's leg pain quickly returned during the ascent. He struggled valiantly as he had done so on the two previous walks but it was clear he was getting fatigued more easily now. Fortunately the pain was alleviated someway by the thrilling limestone escarpments on either side of the walk up the pass to Old Moor. At the top we walked up a bridleway until we gained views of the Mam Tor ridge. Once the views were available to us we stopped and had a break for not only was Dave bushed but Joe and I were dripping sweat. Our shirts were absolutely drenched for although it was hazy, it was a very warm close day. Probably the warmest for months in this dismal British summer. We sat for a while and I helped a group of walkers off their prescribed route. Oh to be adventurous, that's what I say. On reviewing the map I rushed down to them and pointed out a stile to the west, the direction they must continue to follow.

The Limestone Way at Castleton
On top of Mam Tor
Walking up the scenic Limestone Way
The scenery was even more beautiful on Mam Tor

Once our break was complete we set off in the direction I had sent the previous group. The walk across fields took us towards the  Rowter Lane bridleway. It was packed with groups of walkers. There was going to be a busy time ahead of us saying hi's and hello's to fellow walkers until we reached and left Mam Tor, for it was for Mam Tor that all the hoards were making. Passing courtesies along the way we walked down Rowter Lane and crossed the Castleton road near to Oxlow House. Then it as across Windy Knoll to another road crossing before climbing quite sharply to a hill road. From this point it was an even steeper climb up steps to the top of Mam Tor. It was here Dave gave up the ghost and decided to walk into Castleton. The three days of pain had worn him down and he rightly decided enough was enough. He knew where we were going and left us to continue on unrestricted. We would met him in Castleton at the end of the walk. The three remaining amigos climbed to the steps to the top of Mam Tor.

Sheep on Mam Tor Ridge
Approaching Hollins Cross
The nearest chap told me they were old friends!
Steve strides out on the ridge towards Hollins Cross

Here we were greeted by scores of walkers all enjoying the great views. We sat some way from the hoards on the crest of the hill and watched our stricken colleague toil on his walk towards Castleton. We took our break watching a group of hang gliders preparing for action. We left before they could get airborne and walked along the spectacular ridge to Hollins Cross. On the way along the ridge two chaps were eating lunch while being hassled by sheep. One of the chaps said "the sheep are old friends, they never forget past acquaintances!" After sharing the humorous moment we walked on past Hollins Cross towards Back Tor. Back Tor is an impressive sight as it stands high in front of you all along the ridge walk from Mam Tor growing in stature as you get closer. We declined the climb to the busy top, favouring cutting through on the path to the south through Brockett Booth. Once though the tree lined avenue we crossed to the south of Lose Hill and stopped for another break. It was very hot now.

Back Tor
The descent to Hope from Lose Hill
The impressive Back Tor
On the steep descent from Lose Hill

As we took our break we surveyed the final section of the walk, the ascent of Win Hill. It was a daunting assignment but one we would easily have done most times. However, we had to descend steeply first to Townhead and after our snack we strode and scrambled our way down the steep fall to the bottom. At the top Win Hill had looked a hot sweaty climb. At the bottom it appeared a very onerous task given the hot weather. We capitulated. Dave was already done, it was Sunday afternoon now and the park in Buxton was calling Steve. Therefore we called time on today's walking preferring to collect Dave and spend the afternoon in Buxton Park with the Sunday papers and ice cream. It had been a great walk though a gorgeous limestone pass followed by a scenic country crossing to an excellent ridge walk. Highly recommended, as many walkers will testify.

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