Last Friday, Rowan and I returned to the Peak District, bringing along the furry pair in their swanky new non pull harnesses – an absolute necessity for me when out walking with two cocker spaniels and an enthusiastic little boy. Rowan’s map for this week was for the area around Mam Tor. The hill is steeped in history, with the summit of Mam Tor being the site of an Iron Age hill fort, the earthworks of which can be followed round the summit. There are also Bronze Age burial mounds, two on Mam Tor and one further down the ridge on Lose Hill. Archaeological finds include the foundation of round houses, remains of gateways on the path to Hollins Cross and pottery, suggesting that there was an inhabited village as well as a defensive fort, all making for a really exciting place to explore.
We parked at the Mam Nick National Trust carpark, meaning much of the climb was
done for us. The paved path at the back of the car park led us to a gate and the start of the pitched path to the Mam Tor summit. It was quite busy, so being pretty slow, we let a number of people pass before we headed up the footpath, the furry pair being renamed the barking pair at this point.
The path was steep, but well made and along the way there were iron plaques for Rowan to find. Rowan really enjoyed finding these fossils, as he called them.
After about half an hour and a climb of about 100 metres we reached the summit where a trig point stood at the centre of a cobbled section of the top. The views were far reaching, with the Vale of Edale on one side and the Hope valley to the other, separated by the Great Ridge, on which we were standing. There were a lot of people admiring the panoramas and having their picnics so, as the dogs were still firmly and annoyingly in barking mode, we didn’t linger long, instead pressing on down the paved path along the ridge.
The Great Ridge connects Mar Tor at its eastern edge and Lose Hill to the west, and the path along here was to be our route for the rest day the day, the plan being that we could turn back at any point. The ridge dipped up and down meaning there would be more climbing than the initial 100m though the route was clear with no doubts as to navigation, with the path sticking to the top of the ridge.
We passed Hollins Cross, a dip in the ridge and convergence of a number of paths, and began a gentle climb. By this time, the dogs had settled down and we continued along a sandy track, worn by many footsteps, enjoying the views and the invitation of more walking ahead of us. Ahead we could see Back Tor, with its incredibly steep and precipitous looking pitched path and Lose Hill beyond it. I decided it would be worth checking with Rowan, to make sure that he actually wanted to continue on. The adventurous little boy did. He absolutely wanted to get to the tree at the top of the hill, but we would have a look at what the path was like before we decided.
Reaching a stile, we climbed over and surveyed the path ahead of us. Closer up, it seemed just as steep, but much wider than it had initially appeared, so we started climbing to the top, stopping for a rest from time to time.
The top was a grassy plateau with glorious views. Looking back to where we had come from, we could see Mam Tor on the horizon and looking ahead we could make out people on the summit of Lose Hill.
Sitting down on the grass, we enjoyed our picnic whilst taking in the views of the Vale of Edale. Down in the valley below, we could make out farm building and watched sheep being herded. Rowan was particularly excited when he spotted the train.
After we finished dinner, we consulted the map. It was about half a mile and a 70 metre climb to Lose Hill, and I wasn’t sure that Rowan would want to go on any further but it seems the boy gets summit fever. He really wanted to go to the next hill top. I pointed out how far we had to walk back, but he still wanted to go, so we did. It didn’t take us too long to get there and the views were amazing in all directions. The skies had really cleared from when we set off in the morning and it felt like we could see for miles. It summit pillar had a plate which showing what we were looking at in every direction, the crammed on arrows just proving how much there was to see.
After a lovely break at the top of Lose Hill, we retraced out steps back along the ridge, pausing at the top of Back Tor at Rowan’s request. There were a few slips climbing back down Back Tor, so Rowan took some of the steps on his bottom, while the mutts, behaving much better than the start of the day, waited patiently. There were a few more rests on the way back, including sitting at the top of Mam Tor – understandably as this adventure turned out to be Rowan’s biggest walk yet. We were out for just over five hours, walking around five miles and climbing about 350 metres. A shorter alternative walk that takes in a landslip can be found on the National Trust website here. Rowan loved it here. He was full of enthusiasm, exclaiming the views were beautiful and amazing. I’m inclined to agree.