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" Mam Tor to Back Tor, Derbyshire "

Date & start time:      3rd January 2020.    11.45 am start.

Location of Start :     The National Trust car park, Mam Tor.  ( SK 124 833 )

Places visited :          Mam Tor, Hollins Cross, Back Tor and return by the old road.

Walk details :              4.4 mls, 1200 ft of ascent, 3 hours.

Highest point :           Mam Tor,  1680 ft - 517m.

Walked with :              Jenna, Ann and our dogs, Dylan and Dougal, the world and his wife.

Weather :                      Promises of sunshine all the way failed to come true.

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Licence number PU 100034184.

After our few days in Suffolk we journey north to Sheffield and Tickhill, where we had the opportunity to meet up with the rest of the family.

We stayed at our daughter's house in Sheffield but stop off on the way to say hello and have lunch with friends in Keyworth near Nottingham.

Three cheers for the sat nav when we're negotiating the smaller back roads !

Lunch at Pat and Mike's.

Lunch was great and Mike was looking good and full of colour after a recent minor heart op . . . brilliant.

Pat was looking a bit pale in comparison, but that was purely down to the uneven flash of the camera.

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We stayed at Jenna's for two nights

and met up with her friend Matt for an excellent meal

at a local Sheffield Indian Restaurant.



On the Friday we ventured out into the Peaks

and  later on that evening met up with our daughter Paula

and her family in Tickhill in the evening.

A busy day . . . starting with a drive to Mam Tor.



- - - o o o - - -

The rocks of Stanage Edge as we dive over from Sheffield to Hathersage in Derbyshire's Hope Valley.

The remote Overstones Farm below the road.

In the distance the iconic Lafarge Cement Works in Hope Valley near Castleton.

The high ground to the right is Mam Tor which is where we're heading today.

Looking south over Froggatt Edge in the Matlock direction.

Driving through Hathersage Village.

The classic yellow sandstone would be repeated in many of the villages we passed through.

St Michael and All Angels’ Church at Hathersage.

Stones in the churchyard mark what is regarded as the grave of Little John (of Robin Hood fame).

Tradition has it that Little John was a Hathersage man and that he died in a small cottage near the church

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We drove on through Castleton and Winnats Pass to the National Trust car park below Mam Tor.

Jen checking where she is placing her feet, as we start up the footpath from the car park.

A more formal group shot from today . . . quality not quantity !

We join the large number of people also aiming for the summit.

- - - o o o - - -


Some artwork set into the side of the pathway.

It is presumably a representation of an old agricultural plough

but there was no accompanying literature or information.

Still . . . nice to see.


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The Mam Tor walk is regarded as the most popular walk in the Dales.

From the number of people here today I think that may well be true.

We divert off-piste slightly to appreciate the view and to travel at our own speed.

This is the view south and you can see numerous parked cars all alongside the road.

Looking down on Castleton and the Lafarge Cement Works who manufacture the famous Blue Circle Cement.

There's a huge quarry to the right but to be fair it is well hidden, its extent is only obvious from the air.

As we round the slopes of Mam Tor we reach the escarpment and stand on the edge for a fine view of the Hope Valley.

The uneven land below is as a result of numerous landslides over the years.

The abandoned road below would be our return route to the car.

Also in the above picture, but here zoomed in, is the famous Blue John Mine entrance (more details later).

The rock escarpment of Mam Tor showing the complex rock strata

Time to climb the last few feet to the top.

I managed to zig-zag my way through the crowd to touch the top.

The whole of the top area has been paved . . . which is probably a good thing considering the amount of foot traffic it receives.

Click here or on the photo above for a 320 degree annotated panorama

The other 40 degrees of the picture were full of people !

Again we dropped down onto the grassy side of the hill.

The earthworks we are walking along here must be the part of the Iron Age hill fortifications (possibly dated between 800 BC and the Roman 100 AD).

The paved path is a much newer 20th Century addition.

Please . . . . why do they have to place them so close together like urban street paving ?

Why not leave a six inch gap between the stones in order to let the grass grow ?   (Answers please on a postcard)

After the over wet autumn suffered by Yorkshire and Derbyshire this year the path was very muddy.

Despite the paved track it was still  quite slippery at times and care was needed.

Ahead are the three summits of Barker Bank, Back Tor and Lose Hill.

The view left over the fence into the Edale Valley with Edale Village and Grindsbrook Clough (the valley) opposite.

The continuous straight line across the picture, seen just above the fence line, is the busy Sheffield to Manchester railway track.

We pass on using the ridgeway paved path in favour of a second lower down on the Hope Valley side.

Jen proudly crosses the stile . . . we were too polite to point out that the gate and fence were missing.

We were in the shadow of an ever increasing cloud but the distinctive Win Hill across the way stood out in the sunshine.

The object of our desires and it seems many other people's . . . Back Tor.

Ann part way up the steep climb as a shaft of sunlight breaks through behind.

The actual pitched path is often lost amongst all the other stones and rocks.

There's someone already on the flat boulder that we're aiming for at the top of the slope.

This is Jenna on the classic photo from Back Tor

looking west along the ridge, back to Man Tor on the skyline.

My turn to pose with Dylan and Dougal.

. . . and again with Ann.

     Here's the picture from our previous visit in 1982, thirty eight years ago.

The line up is Ann, our daughter Paula and our young son Gareth.  Jenna had yet to be born.

I was first sitting on this rock for a photo some sixty five years ago (it looks less in words than in numbers !)  with my brothers and sister.

(left to right)   Peter, Pamela, myself and Stephen, circa 1955 . . . taken from my dad's photo archive.

Finally one that my daughter Paula sent us, taken in 2014 when she walked here with Abi, Gareth and Jenna.

( We were not with them that day)

- - - o o o - - -

After our short stop we head up the last few feet to the summit and someone else takes our place for their photo on the stone.

Time now to head back along the ridge.

From the checking the old photo above, those two hawthorn trees have been here a very long time.

As we head back it was time to wrap up warmly and stay as dry as possible.

Jenna's phone weather forecast said sunny with just a 5% chance of rain . . . welcome to the world of 5%.

Fortunately it was only a light shower which soon headed off down the valley towards Hathersage.

It left us with an even wetter path and a cold, rather biting westerly breeze.

There's a nice looking path descending across the face of Mam Tor that will be a little more protected . . . we'll take that.

Sadly the path was an inch deep in mud and the hillside slippery from the moss growing in between the grass.

It was with a couple of minor slips and much relief . . .
. . . that we made it down to the tarmac on the old road below.

If you are geologically minded you'll love this part of the world.

The ground here is made of dark Bowland Shale rocks which suffered a major landslide about 4000 years ago

and the resultant break point left the vertical face of Mam Tor we see today.   The shales are unstable and still occasionally moving to this day.

The old A625 Manchester to Sheffield road was built in 1819 but crosses the site of the old landslides.

The following 160 years saw constant repairs and reconstruction with major work in 1912, 1933, 1946, 1952, and 1966.

The road was finally abandoned to nature in 1979 after another slide.  Information courtesy of the British Geological Survey and others.

As we walk up the road you can see the old route, complete with cats eyes on the centre line

and, where it has collapsed, you can make out the layers of each subsequent tarmac repair !

Here the whole road has dropped a good eight to ten feet,

as seen from this tall guy and his family who followed behind us.

With a final damp and muddy flourish we cross a small stream and reached the original undamaged road at the next bend.

This part of the old road now serves as a car park for the Blue John Cavern.

- - - o o o - - -

It is an underground cave system formed in the limestone rock

that borders onto Mam Tor, now accessible for public access.


Nearby are three other show caves, Speedwell Cavern, Peak Cavern

and Treak Cliff Cavern where lead, Blue John,

fluorspar and other minerals were once mined.


- - - o o o - - -

- - - o o o - - -

The last few hundred yards were on the main road,

which took us back to a rather nice mobile Coffee Kart

in the back of a van at the car park where we first started.


I can personally recommend the home made Bakewell Tarts

served by the nice people with the hot coffee,

on what ended up a rather damp, cold afternoon.


- - - o o o - - -

(photo for information only . . . anyone got a better photo of that welcome sight ? )

- - - o o o - - -

In the evening we were invited across to our daughter Paula's house in Tickhill, not far from Sheffield.

The Christmas lights were still up in Tickhill Village as we drove through.

Ann, Al, Abi and Tom at one end of the dinner table . . . (myself in the mirror).

Paula and Jenna at the other (Ann seems to have managed to be in both pictures).

During the very sociable evening we all squeezed onto the settee for family photo.

With the other picture that we took a few days earlier in Pin Mill woods

it means we've seen and have a photo of all the family this New Year.

- - - o o o - - -



All that remained now was to pack the bags and return home.


We diverted next day for lunch with Paula and Al at Tickhill

before we headed north up the motorway.


Thankfully it was a uneventful journey up the A1

and back over the A66 from Scotch Corner

to our home in Cumbria.



- - - o o o - - -



Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Panasonic Lumix TZ60, or my Panasonic Lumix Gx8 Camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . chance to see everyone over the festive period.

Stop Press:                                                        Hi Roger and Ann

Loved your photos of Mam Tor .Years ago I was a member of a cycling club living in Stoke on Trent we used to ride to Castleton and have lunch in the village. The old road you walked back on was serviceable in those days and we used to whizz down into Castleton happy days .

You may be interested to know that Winnants Pass has been used on numerous occasions for the cycling national hill climb championship.                           

Kind Regards Nigel Ellerton


Stop Press:

Loved your Hope Valley photos. An area very close to my heart.

Here's one from the early 80's. Blue Circle FC.   Some memorable Saturdays playing home matches at Blue Circle/Lafarge, with all it's wonderful facilities, and away games where more often than not we would have to move sheep before we could start the game.   Great times, This team included world famous names such as Henry Cooper, Gary Cooper and Richard Burton.

All 3 were there at the same time. Richard Burton and Gary Cooper were real names. We re-christened Gary's brother "Henry". They are all on this photo, looking nothing like their famous namesakes.  I'm top right back row, much more hair in those days.

Good times, Nigel (Butler).                            Many thanks Nigel . . . what a coincidence . . . RmH

Go to Top . . . © RmH . . . Email me here

Previous walk - 1st January 2020 - New Year's Day in Pin Mill

A previous time up here - 15th November 2003 Kinder and Ringing Roger

Next walk - 8th to 14th January - Ling Fell and cold, local walks

For a more professional guide to this route click on the 10 Adventures web site here