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Mam-Tor

'The Shivering Mountain', otherwise known as Mam Tor is not really a mountain, but one of the Peak District's famous landmarks and highest peaks.

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Mam Tor's shivering mountain title is due to the fact that it is constantly and progressively sliding down the hillside. As you look at the exposed east face of Mam Tor, you can clearly make out the various horizontal strata of shale and sandstone. It is also possible to see the remains of a defensive ditch from the Iron Age hill fort which once stood on this high hilltop. Excavations have unearthed the remains of hut circles and pottery showing that the fortification was probably a substantial settlement or village. Earlier Bronze Age remains have been found of a tumulus or burial ground on the summit of Mam Tor where the trig point is located.

Overlooking the popular village of Castleton with its caverns, caves and tea rooms, Mam Tor is at the boundary of White Peak and Dark Peak countryside, where geology and geography excel themselves. Not only are there old lead mines, weathered limestone crags and a vast underground system of caves, but within a mile of Mam Tor is Titan, the biggest and deepest natural cavern in the country. Equally important is Treak Cliff Hill, adjacent to Mam Tor which is the only site in the world where you can find the mineral known as Blue John

The Blue John Mine close to Mam Tor is open throughout the year. It has many different levels and galleries, some with interesting names such as 'Bull Beef' because of the reddish colour of the Blue John found there. One of the finest mineral veins is called the 'Twelve Veins' because it has a dozen alternating seams of purple and white. Blue John is a purple banded variety of fluorspar found only in this one hill ( Derbyshire's exclusive gemstone!).

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Odin Mine at the base of Mam Tor descends many hundreds of feet and has been worked for centuries to extract galena (lead sulphide) and small quantities of silver, together with calcite, fluorspar and barytes. Set among the waste heaps is an old crushing wheel dating back to the early 19th century. The remains of the mine which can be found at the side of the old Mam Tor road are accessible by path and form part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Also at the side of the closed road to Mam Tor is an old black and white milestone dating from when the turnpike road was established in 1802. It shows the distance to Chapel-en-le-Frith as being 5 miles, Sheffield 17, whilst Hathersage is 7 miles.

Above ground Mam Tor reaches high above the Hope Valley and is a distinctive landmark when either walking or travelling in the area.

To access Mam Tor by road, it is best to follow the B6061 from Sparrowpit off the A623 or follow the minor road from Chapel-en-le-Frith to Castleton. There is a car park at Mam Nick (grid reference 123833) where a narrow road leads over the hilltop beside Mam Tor and drops down to Edale. To see the spectacular front of Mam Tor, drive down the no through road which leads to the Blue John Mine where there is limited roadside parking and a viewing point with seats. This was in fact the former A625 Sheffield to Chapel-en-le-Frith road, constructed in 1802 as an alternative route to Winnats Pass. It zigzagged its way down the side of Mam Tor but was a struggle to maintain due to continual subsidence, and in 1977 the mountain won the fight when the maintenance men withdrew to let nature take its course. All that now remains is a constantly shifting tangle of tarmac, clay, shale and grassy hillocks criss-crossed with paths and tracks.

Mam Nick car park is the starting point of a wonderful ridge-top path to the summit of Mam Tor then along a rollercoaster path past Hollins Cross to Lose Hill. There is a long procession of steps and stone flags to the summit of Mam Tor, with several carved stone features to illustrate your walk and take your mind off the long ascent! It is well worth the climb though, as the views from the windswept top of Mam Tor are breath-taking and far-reaching. The Vale of Edale and the Hope Valley stretch out on either side, whilst the high moors of Kinder Plateau are a backdrop.

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From Mam Tor you can also look across to Peveril Castle above Castleton. Perched on the rocks this was one of Derbyshire's most important castles, although little more than the 'keep' built in 1176 remains. Peveril Castle was an impregnable fortress and the seat of William Peveril, illegitimate son of William the Conqueror and his lady friend Maud, the daughter of Ingelric who was a Saxon nobleman related to Edward the Confessor. From here William Peveril ruled over the village and his lead mines, whilst also acting as bailiff of the Royal Forest of the Peak which extended for 60 square miles around him.

Peveril Castle was used as a hunting lodge by royalty and noblemen and was visited on occasion by Henry I, Henry III and Edward III. It lost its attraction in the 15th century however, and was subsequently used as a prison before being reduced to a ruinous state two centuries later. It was reputed that the remains of walled-up prisoners have been discovered in the keep, adding sinister connotations to its character. Peveril Castle was also famed through the fictional writing of 'Peveril of the Peak' by Sir Walter Scott in 1823.