It’s only around 517 m high, but Mam Tor has all the appearance of a proper mini-mountain. The fun starts even before you begin the ascent. If you start from Castleton, a little gem in itself, the limestone gorge of Winnants Pass makes an awesome approach. Caves abound, with four show-caves near the foot of Mam Tor – Blue John Mine, Speedwell, Treak Cliff and Peak Caverns. The white limestone makes a contrast to the dark landscape of the Kinder Plateau which becomes visible as you ascend Mam Tor.
Mam Tor means ‘mother mountain’. The Southern face has long been susceptible to land-slips, the results of which are numerous small hills below the ‘mother’.
The alternative name is Shivering Mountain – presumably due to its unstable face.
Don’t be put off by this instability, however, the ascent is simple and safe enough with the National Trust having provided a paved pathway forming the most popular route. It’s a great walk at most times of year. It is popular, however. With easy access from the car park at Mam Nick, in the summer and bank holiday weekends the path can be very busy. In Spring and Autumn it’s much quieter and, to my mind, much more dramatic – especially when there is a dusting of snow on the summit.
Once on the summit there are great views to the north across the Edale Valley to Kinder Scout. But the walking doesn’t stop with the ascent. Stretching away to the West and East are the fine ridges of Rushup edge and the Great Ridge to Lose Hill. With various descents, you can also create variations of circular walks.
Castleton itself makes a great base for a walking weekend. You can explore the gentle Hope Valley together with the more dramatic landscape around the edges of the Kinder Plateau.