Another fine day was promised for last Saturday so I decided to get my boots on again and head off into the hills. I get fed up of driving and the hassle of traffic jams and finding somewhere to park. Hope in Derbyshire has a train station an is only a couple of hours away so I decided to take the train and start a walk from here. Hope is at one end of the Castleton ridge so a good option was a circular route walking along the ridge from Lose Hill to Mam Tor, cutting down to Castleton and then walking along the valley floor back to Hope.
Hope village is very small and there isn’t much to see there. However, on my way through the village I came across a couple of well dressings. These are clay panels decorated with petals, leaves and other natural elements to form a picture. It’s an old tradition in the Peak District. The whole village will participate in the production of these dressings which are then installed over the local wells. The dressings I saw were beginning to look somewhat worse for wear, but a couple of locals, who’d seen me looking at one of them, told me that they had only been installed the week before. They don’t last too long when exposed to the elements.
The path from the village up to Lose Hill took me, at first, through lush pasture land. As I started to climb the land started to become wilder and more moor like and views over the Hope valley began to open up. The landscape was quite different to that of the Lake District where I went walking the week before. It was more cultivated, less wild and there was much more evidence of human influence.
The path soon became steeper and remained like that until I reached the summit. It was particularly steep for the last section leading up to the top after going through the fence into the land owned by the National Trust.
On top of Lose Hill I stopped for a while for a bite to eat and a rest. It was busy on the summit (although quiet compared to Mam Tor, as I would find out a little later) The views, in every direction, were magnificent – Win Hill, the Edae valley over to the Kinder plateau, along the ridge to Mam Tor and down to Castleton.
After a short while I started off along the ridge towards MamTor. It was blustery, but quite warm. As the ridge is easily accessible from Manchester and Sheffield, it’s always busy with walkers and today was no different. I met quite a few walkers coming in the opposite direction, including groups of teenages=rs loaded down with heavy packs, on their Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition.
It was busy when I reached Hollins Cross, a meeting point for several paths. A lot of people had obviously come up from Castleton. Many probably didn’t make it much further. Some day trippers were wearing inappropriate footwear (as is always the case) but, fortunately, it was dry underfoot today.
I went on to climb up to the summit of Mam Tor. The path became steeper (but not as hard going as up to Lose Hill). It was very busy at the top Mam Tor is a popular destination as it’s quite easily accessible from Castleton, which is a “honeypot”. So a lot of day trippers will make their way up there. The views are excellent.It’s also a historic spot, having been the site of an iron age hill fort and there is evidence of the ditches which formed its fortifications on the side of the hill.
I stopped for a while to get my bearings for the rest of my walk. I ended up taking a slightly longer route than originally intended. After descending from the summit I took a path cutting over farmland until I reached a path which forms part of the “Limestone Trail” which I followed down into Castleton. This took me through Cave Dale – a narrow, dry gorge descending (quite steeply at one point) between limestone cliffs. The view down the dale was magnificent (I seem to be overusing that word!) particularly at the top of the steepest section where Peveril Castle could be seen looming over and dominating the dale.
I stopped in Castleton, which was heaving with walkers and day trippers. I stopped for a while for some refreshments and a bite to eat. I had intended to visit the castle but by extending my route I didn’t really have enough time to look at it properly so instead I headed back towards Hope along a very pleasant, flat, riverside path.
A map of the route I took can be viewed here.