It was a beautiful sunny day on Saturday so although there’s loads of work needs doing on the house, it was too nice to stay indoors working so I took the opportunity to get out for a walk. I talked my son into coming out with me, by promising him he’d see an Iron Age hill fort and a Norman castle. So we set off and caught the train over to Edale in the Peak District.
Alighting from the train we were welcomed by a brilliant view sky and clear views of the Castleton Ridge to the south and Kinder Plateau to the north. Our plan was to climb Mam Tor – the “Mother hill” – at the western end of the ridge. We made our way along the road for a short while until we hit the path that would take us over the fields towards Hollins Cross where the path between Edale and Castleton is crossed by the path that traverses the length of the ridge. Reaching the top we stopped to take in the views and grab a bite to eat.
We followed the path along the ridge towards the summit of Mam Tor. The route along the ridge from Lose Hill to Mam Tor (which I’ve walked before) is one of the most popular in the Peak District and there were plenty of other walkers heading in both directions.
The summit of Mam Tor is 517 metres high. and it was pretty windy at the top. Formed of shale which is unstable, it is also known as the Shivering Mountain. A large landslide, which it is believed started 4,00 years ago is clearly visible on it’s southern flank and the road below this, which was built in the early 1800’s was closed in 1979 when the Local Authority finally decided they’d had enough of continually repairing it due to damage caused by the landslip.
Mam Tor is also the site of a prehistoric hill fort, and remnants of the fortifications – ditches and ramparts – are clearly visible running around the summit. There are also remains of two gateways on the paths leading from Mam Nick and from Hollins Cross.
We descended down to Mam Nick and then took the path heading south west across the fields until we eventually hit the Limestone way. We followed the path towards Castleton, which took us down Cave Dale.
This dry limestone dale,was probably originally created by glacial meltwater, being deepened later due to the collapse of underground caverns.
The lower reaches of the Dale are dominated by Peveril castle, which is perched on the cliffs on the northern side. Accessed via the small village of Castleton, which today is one of the Peak District’s “honeypots”, it has a commanding view over the Dale and Hope Valley. It was built soon after the Norman invasion by William Peveril, a Norman knight who was gifted lands in Nottinghamshire and northern Derbyshire. Unusually, it was constructed from stone, probably due to the scarcity of other building materials in the vicinity.
Due to bad decisions on who to support during the various squabbles amongst the feudal ruling class, the Peveril family lost control of their estates and the castle was restored to the Crown under Henry II. He strengthened the castle and was responsible for the construction of the impressive keep
Castleton and the Hope Valley are not in a strategic position from a national perspective. This part of Derbyshire was (and still is, to be honest) something of a backwater. The main purpose of the castle would have been to dominate and intimidate the local population and to act as an administrative centre, controlling revenues from mining and hunting rights in the Peak Forest.
Today it’s main feature is the keep. It’s been largely stripped of the smooth outer stone facing, but it still looks impressive, particularly when viewed from Cave Dale. There are stunning views across the Hope Valley over to the Mam Tor, Black Tor, Lose Hill and Win Hill, which were all clearly visible on a sunny afternoon.
Having looked round the castle, although I could have done with a cup of tea, we decided to head on to Hope so that we could catch the 16:39 train to manchester. Otherwise it would have been after 8 p.m. before we’d have got home. We made our way along the pleasant path over the fields beside the little river towards Hope. It was an easy, pleasant walk in the afternoon sunshine and we made it to Hope station in good time for the train.