A walk along the ridge

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Last Sunday I’d arranged to go out for a walk with my friend Pam from Tasmania, who was over on one of her regular trips exploring Europe. A typical Aussie she loves to travel and comes over every couple of years. This time she’d been to Helsinki and after a stop over in England to visit some friends she was off to Iceland and then to Poland. Jealous? What do you think!

When she’s over we try to meet up to get out for a walk. This year we’d planned to go up to the Dales, but after a cracking few days of good weather a front of heavy rain was forecast to gradually descend from Scotland. Checking the Met Office weather app, I reckoned the Peak District was likely to be our best bet to avoid the worst of the weather so that’s where we went. The new bypass from the airport to the A6 meant we were able to avoid driving through Stockport and it took about an hour and 15 minutes to get over to Castleton, traffic being light on a Sunday morning.

Despite the grey weather with mist over the hills when we arrived, the small honeypot town was busy, but we managed to find a parking space. We decided on a brew before setting out.

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Castleton is a very pleasant village of stone cottages, overlooked by the remains of a Norman castle, the main purpose of which 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.

The plan was to walk the ridge that stands between and overlooks the Hope and Edale valleys, starting at Lose Hill and making our way south west over Back Tor and Hollins Cross on to Mam Tor. The mist had lifted when we set out and their was a clear view of Lose Hill as we made our way along the path out of the village.

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As the ridge is easily accessible from Manchester and Sheffield, it’s always busy with walkers and, despite the grey skies, today was no different. We met quite a few walkers including a group of teenagers loaded down with heavy packs, on their Duke of Edinburgh Award expedition.

Here’s Pam on her way up Lose Hill.

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To the east of Lose Hill stands Win Hill. So what’s the reason for their names? Turning to the font of all knowledge (i.e. Wikipedia!)

In relatively recent times, the two hills’ names have prompted a fanciful tale concerning the outcome of an imagined 7th-century battle between the forces of Edwin of Northumbria and Cynegils of Wessex.[3] Edwin’s forces occupied Win Hill, while Cynegils’ men camped on Lose Hill. As the battle progressed, Cynegils’ forces advanced up Win Hill, and Edwin’s retreated behind a temporary wall they had built near the summit. They pushed the boulders of the wall downhill, crushing the Wessex soldiers and gaining victory in the battle. However, there is no historical basis for the tale, and no evidence of any battle ever being fought here.

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Well, it’s a good story anyway.

I’d done this walk twice, the last time way back in 2011 so another visit was long overdue. I seem to remember huffing an puffing a bit as I made my way up the slope but this time I seemed to stride up without any problem. I guess that after all the walking I’ve been doing lately I’m a lot fitter, and Lose hill is a more modest climb than some of the hills I’ve been up in the past few months.

Looking back across the Hope valley as we climbed.

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We soon reached the summit and stopped for the obligatory snaps. We could see cloud and rain coming in from the north over Kinder Scout, but the views weren’t too bad.

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It was relatively easy going from now on along the ridge. There was a short steep descent from Back Tor and then a gradual climb up to the summit of Mam Tor, but nothing too taxing.

This is the view down to Edale from Back Tor. Kinder Scout was hidden by the rain coming in from the north.

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It caught us shortly afterwards, but it was light drizzle and didn’t last very long, so no problems.

This is the view looking back to Lose Hill with Win Hill just about visible through the murk in the distance, over to the right

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and looking further along the ridge towards Mam Tor.

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We descended down the path. This is the view looking back towards Back Tor

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Mam Tor ahead.

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Mam Tor means “mother mountain” and humans have lived around here for thousands of years. It’s the site of a prehistoric hill fort, and remnants of the fortifications – ditches and ramparts – are clearly visible running around the summit. 

Despite the weather the summit was busy. It’s a relatively short climb up from Castleton – even shorter for those parking up on the road above Winnats pass or the National Trust car park.

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We descended down to the road and then started to make our way back to Catleton via the old ruined road. Mam Tor is also known as the Shivering Mountain due to it’s unstable nature which has resulted in a number of slow moving landslips caused by its geology – unstable lower layers of shale overlain by sandstone.

Reaching the bottom of the hill we could see the large 4,000 year old slow moving landslip on it’s south eastern side.

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The A625 Manchester to Sheffield road in 1819 lies in the landslip zone and had to be continually repaired until it was permanently closed to traffic in 1979 and the A625 diverted down Winnats Pass.

We followed the course of the old road and could clearly see the damage that’s been caused.

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We left the old road and cut across the fields towards Castleton. The final field we had to cross was populated by a sizeable herd of cows with their calves, the majority of the latter congregating right on the path. We were a little wary as cows are very protective of their calves and far from being harmless, there’s been a number of people killed by them in recent years. The HSE advise farmers not to keep cows with their calves in fields crossed by public footpaths. Well, our Derbyshire farmer clearly was ignoring this advice.

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We crossed the field very cautiously and kept away from the calves as much as possible and made it through without harm.

After a good walk it was time to grab a bite to eat so we made our way to one of the pubs in the village – there’s several .

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After a hearty meal it was time to head back to the car and set back home. We’d had a good walk and by careful planning had largely managed to avoid the rain. Pam dropped me back home and after calling in for a brew set off back to Maghull near Liverpool where she was staying with another friend. A few days later she was flying over to Iceland and I was back in work 😦

5 thoughts on “A walk along the ridge

  1. The first time I visited Castletown was almost exactly 44 years ago in my first year at university. The history dept in Sheffield took the newbies away for a weekend at the beginning of our course and I remember going to Peveril Castle, though not much else. I’ve no idea where we stayed. Definitely not Mam Tor, though after I met John it became somewhere we went semi-regularly. Buses were cheap and frequent in the Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire!

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