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Over the Shivering Mountain

A ridge walk over the summit of Mam Tor.

Distance 5 miles (8km)

Minimum time 3hrs 30min

Ascent/gradient 1,150ft (350m)

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Good tracks all the way

Landscape Grassy ridge and farm pastures

Suggested map aqua3 OS Outdoor Leisure 1 Dark Peak

Start/finish SK 149829

Dog friendliness Dogs could run free on the Hollowford Lane

Parking Castleton village car park

Public toilets At car park

1 Take the tarmac ginnel from the back of the car park, then turn left along Hollowford Lane. The route you are about to walk as far as Hollins Cross is a former packhorse route, and one that would have been used by workers making a daily trip between Castleton and Edale Mill.

2 The lane climbs the hillside north of the village, and passes an outdoor centre. Abandon the lane where it turns sharp left and becomes an unsurfaced track to Woodseats Farm. Go through the gate ahead onto a sunken stony path that leads the route through the shade of hawthorn trees to reach a gate on the edge of the moor. From here you traverse left across the steeper rugged ground of the upper slopes to reach the high pass at Hollins Cross. Here there's a view recorder and monument to rambler Tom Hyett.

3 You now have the fields of Edale spread beneath your feet. The spire of the village church looks minute compared with the rock-crested heather slopes of Kinder Scout. You may hear the whistling of the Manchester train as it hurries through the valley on its way to Sheffield. Follow the ridge path left (west veering left and further southwards) to the summit of Mam Tor. From the summit continue along the paved path to the Mam Tor Nick car park.

4 Through the car park turn left along the A625. Follow the road round the right-hand bend, then take the cross-field path on the left past Winnats Head Farm. Beyond the farm descend the narrow lane into the spectacular limestone ravine of Winnats Pass - a 1 in 5 (20%) gradient. It is not necessary to walk on the tarmac through Winnats - there's a good path which descends the grassy slopes beneath the crags on the left all the way down to Speedwell Cavern.

5 On the far side of the road, opposite the Speedwell Cavern building, a footpath takes the route through the National Trust's Longcliff Estate. It skirts the slopes, and roughly follows the line of a dry-stone wall on the left to terminate at Goosehill Farm.

6 Here continue along the lane, Goosehill, which heads back towards the centre of Castleton. After crossing Goosehill Bridge over Mill Stream, turn left down a tarmac path that follows the stream banks, emerging at the main street opposite the car park.

Mountain walks are seldom as easy to follow as this one to Mam Tor, there are lanes and paved paths for most of the way. From the moment you reach Hollins Cross, you're walking the skyline on easy ridges, with views as good as any in Derbyshire.

The summit of Mam Tor is made up of layered shale and gritstone, an unstable surface that has been weathered into flaky cliffs on the east side. These cliffs have given Mam Tor its chilling alternative name, the 'Shivering Mountain'. It is ringed by a fort dating back to the Bronze Age. The burial mound on the summit was getting so eroded that the National Trust has completely covered it with cobblestones.

Once a jaggers' track ('Jaggers' were the old packhorse train drivers), the Winnats road became an important turnpike in 1758, but this state was short-lived. The Manchester and Sheffield Turnpike Company replaced the tortuous Winnats with the ill-fated Mam Tor road. Unfortunately the Shivering Mountain shivered a little too much for this new road. There were five incidences of it shifting with the slopes, and repairs were often necessary. Finally in 1977 the road was closed to traffic for good.

What to look for

Take a look at Mam Tor's 'shivering face'. You will be able to see the layers of grits and shales that make the hillside so unstable. When you look over the edge (don't get too close), you'll see the huge landslips below, including the crumbling remains of the old A625 road that went down with them.

Where to eat and drink

The Castle in Castle Street, Castleton serves Bass beer and very tasty bar meals. This 17th-century coaching inn has a comfortable no smoking area, oak beams and open fires.

While you're there

Have a closer look at the Odin Mine, one of the oldest lead mines in Derbyshire. It takes its name from Woden, the Norse god of War. From the roadside you can see a deep rocky gorge, which at first glance appears to be natural. Closer inspection reveals it to have been gouged out by the miners. The mine extends hundreds of feet under Mam Tor and for centuries gave high yields of lead and also some silver.

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