Another cold, sunny day, another train trip; this time to the quaint village of Hope. I became very fond of train journeys in 2017, having hopped on a fair few over the months. Mam Tor was the third and final hike on my Peak District bucket list for the year, and the one I was most excited about.
From Hope station, Lyndon and I scuttled along the main road and through the village for a couple of miles, until reaching the next town, Castleton.
Castleton and its quintessentially English vibes had me brimming with joy. It’s everything a city escapee could wish for; rustic, with higgledy-piggledy shops, stone walls wrapping around sturdy cottages and the promise of a good ol’ hike just around the corner.
The residents of the village were also pretty creative.
The walk began along the muddy, uneven slopes of a steep hillside, which had me torn between gazing out over the lush green fields and looking down at my own clumsy feet.
After crossing the road leading up to Winnats Pass, we cut across a field and up what was quite possibly the steepest hill I have ever encountered. I wasn’t sure whether to climb or crawl, as every part of my body began to protest in unison.
People coming down the hill were experiencing an equal, if not worse struggle, desperately clinging to a barbed wire fence for support. Whilst all of this drama was going on, Lyndon ascended gracefully, leaving a chorus of wheezing and cursing behind him.
He did kindly wait for me at the top. The views out over the sun-filled Hope Valley were already rather breath-taking, and we were yet to summit Mam Tor!
There she is, Mam Tor, or ‘Mother Hill’.
We crossed a few more fields and came out on a road, which wound around the side of the hill and lead us to a paved walkway. From here, the ascent was surprisingly easy and I even felt a slight spring in my step.
The sun felt warm enough for us to sit down, take a short lunch break and decide on our next move, so we perched on a grassy ledge and devoured our sandwiches whilst mindlessly peering out over Castleton and beyond.
The sweat which had accumulated under my many layers rapidly began to turn cold (don’t you just hate that?), and my gloveless fingers began to chill in the sharp air.
We continued on along the ridge, which separates the Hope and Edale Valleys, treating us to a view of both at the same time, one to our left, the other to our right. Spectacular.
The ridge walk was mostly paved and flat, a welcome rest for the weary legs and internal organs.
Over a stile and up a short, steep slope, we reached the craggy summit of Back Tor.
Continuing on, the next high point was Lose Hill Pike.
At this point, the sun had begun to set, casting a peaceful haze over the ridge and Mam Tor behind us.
After soaking up the last of the rays, we haphazardly made our way down the hill, through a lining of trees and slowly back to Hope station.
This is my favourite hike so far in the Peak District. Even though the hills were pretty brutal at times, the rewarding views made up for the blood, sweat and tears. The walk along the ridge is said to be one of the best in the country; and I can see why. Looking down over two separate valleys feels really quite special.
Have you hiked Mam Tor and surrounds? Do you have any alternate walking route recommendations? Leave a comment and let me know!