Mam Tor-Castleton

Like Winnats Pass, visitors to Castleton cannot fail to be awe inspired by the spectacular view of the Shivering Mountain, Mam Tor. The dramatic and loose expanse of crumbling rock is constantly on the move, thus giving the mountain one of its names, another being Mother Hill, named so because it is shaped like a breast or because it keeps spawning mini hills beneath as bits drop off, depending on who you would like to listen to.

It is believed to be one of the earliest hill forts in Britain and the second highest at 1700 feet above sea level. Every time there is heavy rain, the weather undermines the loose shale and causes it to slip further down the valley. Standing guard at the western end of the Hope Valley, its dramatic landslip really shows off the insides of what would otherwise, just be another Peak District hill.

The landslip is thought to have begun in prehistoric times, when the drier climate of the Bronze Age changed to today’s Atlantic period. The horizontal layers of shale and gritstone, said to be ‘cake like sedimentary’ bands, began to crumble due to their unstable nature when ice and water made their way into the layers, some 350 million years ago within the River Delta. On top of the hill was a large Iron age fort and the fortifications can still be seen today but it is thought that Mam Tor was certainly occupied long before this. Items from the Bronze Age have been found here and the trig point on the summit of the Hill is placed on top of the tumulus, which dates from that period, but unfortunately it is now hard to make out because erosion has forced the National trust who own the Hill and the nearby Winnats Pass, to pave the summit area and save it from falling further. Geologists think the landslide activity will only stop when the base of the hill reaches an angle of 30°, which isn’t predicted to happen for at least another 1500 years.

There are clear remains of two gateways on the path leading from Mam Nick and from Hollins Cross and excavations have shown the original ramparts would have been timber, later replaced by stone. There are also foundations of many hut circles which make archaeologists think this was a fully fledged village rather than just a defensive site. Pottery has also been found to back up this idea.

Rearing up above the western end of Hope Valley, it looks as if it is peering towards Edale at the same time. The former A 625 main road from Stockport to Sheffield once went down this way but was swept away by a landslide in 1974 and was eventually closed for good in 1979. It is now only accessible by foot, when an estimate in 2005, costing out the repairs of rebuilding it at £10 million.

The tor sits near the top of Winnats Pass and forms the eastern end of Rushup Ridge, dominating the western end of the Great Ridge. At the base of the mountain and nearby are the famous Castleton Caverns, Speedwell, Blue John, Treakcliff and Peak cavern.

The pinnacle of Mam Tor offers incredible views and some fascinating historical facts. The shape of the Tor and nearby Lord’s Seat and Rushup’s Edge, seem to attract winds at all times, which has made this area becoming a very popular local centre for extreme sports enthusiasts, hang gliding and paragliding. The footpath along the ridge to Lose Hill is one of the most popular in the Peak District, providing breathtaking views in every direction, including Kinder, Stanage edge, the Derwent Moors, and the limestone plateau to the South.