No hiking trip to the Peak District is complete without ticking off a Mam Tor walk. And, this one beats them all; not only does it include this popular peak, but it also combines it with a trip through the wonderous Winnats Pass and the toy-like village of Castleton.
In this guide we’ll give you all the key details of this walk and take you on a virtual hike, as well providing you with a map and some top tips to bear in mind ahead of your trip. We’ll also recommend a couple of places to stay if you haven’t already decided.
Mam Tor walk FAQ
What is Mam Tor?
Mam Tor is a well-known 517-meter hill in the Peak District National Park that provides some of the best views in the area.
Although it’s tall, it’s a short incline to the summit, making it popular among walkers, mountain bikers and even paragliders.
The name translates to ‘mother hill’, as it’s one of the tallest in the area and towers over the much smaller hills below.
Where is Mam Tor in the Peak District
Mam Tor is located in the northeast of the Peak District National Park in what’s known as the ‘High Peak’.
It’s situated near the popular villages of Castleton and Edale, as well as the magical area is known as Winnats Pass – a road that cascades up the hillside with tall mountain-like walls on either side – it’s certainly not one to be missed!
How to get to Mam tor
Getting to Mam Tor by car is by far the easiest of the three options as the Peak District is largely made up of rolling hills separated by cobbled stone-built walls and dozens of small towns, villages and hamlets.
If you need to rent a car, then we recommend using a platform such as Expedia which shows all of the best deals on the market.
Unfortunately, you cannot get the bus to the start of the trailhead; the closest place you’ll be able to get to is Castleton.
Luckily, this route travels through Castleton and so it’s easy enough to mix things up a little and start the route from here instead.
We always recommend using Rome2Rio to discover the best way to get from A to B, however, you can always check out the Peak District Bus timetable too.
Below are some popular locations alongside their respective bus number and duration.
Bakewell to Castleton: Bus 257/40 minutes.
Hathersage to Castleton: Bus 271 or 272/14-29 minutes.
Bamford to Castleton: Bus 271, 272 or 257/18-23 minutes.
The closest train station to Castleton is Hope Train Station and this is approximately a 30-minute walk or a 5-minute drive away.
Many of the small villages across the Peak District have train stations so it’s always worth checking whether the town in which you’re staying has a station to determine whether you actually need to drive to the trailhead of this walk or not.
Where to park for hiking Mam Tor
You can find the free car park that is at the start of the trailhead by following this link: car park.
Whilst it is a fairly large car park, this is a super popular walk and there is a very limited opportunity to park on the road if the car park is full.
As such, we’d recommend getting there early to avoid disappointment.
If there is no parking once you reach the trailhead car park, then it’s possible to park along other sections of the route and begin the walk from a different location.
We recommend trying Old Mam Tor Road and Castleton.
Best time to do the Mam tor walk
As long as the weather is ok, then this hike is well worth doing.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that, like most, this route includes a stunning ridge walk all the way to Hollins Cross.
This is fantastic for incredible panoramic views, however, it also means that it’s very exposed to the elements – whatever they may throw at you!
The very best time of year to climb to the summit is during the spring and summer months, early in the morning, and on a weekday.
This should mean that you’ll be blessed with glorious sunshine, few crowds and, if you’re lucky, a car parking spot too!
Mam tor walk key details
The distance of this hike is 8.7 kilometres. It’s a great middle-distance walk that even novice hikers can enjoy with a few breaks along the way.
Technically, the walk is marked as easy, however, you only need to look at the profile of this walk to see that whilst most of it is downhill or flat, there is one huge spike that stands out.
This is Winnats Pass and there is no getting out of it.
However, since Winnats Pass is one of the most spectacular scenic walks/drives in the Peaks that most go out of their way to visit anyway, it’s certainly not one you’d want to avoid.
Whilst it’s a challenging section of the walk for even the experienced hiker, there are plenty of places to stop and it lasts no more than a couple of kilometres if that.
The elevation of this walk is 397 meters and this is covered over roughly 2 kilometres up Winnats Pass.
It takes most people around 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete this route if you’re walking non-stop.
However, if you’re looking to take a break when you reach the village of Castleton and plan to take more than a few pictures – which, with this scenery, is highly recommended – then we’d recommend leaving around 3 hours to complete this walk.
What to expect on the day of your Mam Tor circular walk
From the car park to the summit and Hollins Cross
The walk wastes no time getting into an incline, as there is a steady ascent from the car park for roughly 1km to the ridgeway that finds Mam Tor.
With that, you’ll instantly be impressed by the awe-inspiring views on either side of you.
To the left, there is a picturesque road that cascades through the valley, and to the right, the small village of Castleton looks miniature in the distance.
For some time, you’ll follow the ridgeway until you reach the trig point.
Here, there will be many people sitting on the ground absorbing every ounce of excellent scenery.
As you continue along the ridge for another couple of kilometres, you’ll slowly descend and eventually come to reach Hollins Cross – a marker that you have reached the lowest point of the ridge.
Hollins Cross to Castleton
Once you’ve passed Hollins Cross, you’ll head through a gate that comes to lead across marshland.
Whilst this path is one of the lesser-travelled sections of the walk, it can be incredibly boggy at times.
It’s worth ensuring that you’re wearing a waterproof pair of hiking boots to avoid any unwanted soggy socks!
Once you’ve stumbled across the marshland, the route exits at a country lane which is followed all the way into the not-so-miniature village of Castleton.
For those looking to take a break, then this is the perfect place to stop.
There are more than a few places to stop for something to drink and eat, however, Rose Cottage Castleton is worth calling out as a place that does some mouth-wateringly-fantastic homemade bakes – which you might need for some energy to get you up the next part of the walk!
Winnats Pass to the car park
Once you’ve finished exploring Castleton, it’s time to marvel at the beauty of Winnats Pass as you climb almost all of the elevation of the walk-in in one hit.
You’ll gradually be introduced to the accent as you follow the country road towards the pass which gets steeper and steeper with every step.
As you climb higher and higher, the views behind you are framed perfectly by the towering stone walls that will enclose you.
Once you’ve snapped enough pictures to capture the beauty of Winnats Pass, the final stretch is over a series of fields, before arriving back at the car park.
If you’re lucky enough to be walking on a day when people are paragliding, then you’ll see multiple landings in the final field before you cross the road to the car park.
And, if you time it right, the sun will be setting in the distance – what a way to finish a walk!
Mam Tor walk map
Whilst we always recommend taking a hard copy of a map (just in case), it’s also always much easier to use an interactive map.
Below you’ll find an interactive route map of the walk.
We highly recommend signing up to Alltrails and downloading this map ahead of the walk so that you can navigate easily on the day.
Tips for hiking Mam Tor in the Peak District National Park
Things to know
Begin the hike early
As already mentioned a few times, this walk gets extremely busy during peak season because it is one of the best walks in the Peak District.
As such, it’s worth arriving early to get a car parking spot to avoid disappointment.
Allow some extra time to watch the paragliders
If you happen to be taking this trail on a sunny day with just the right amount of wind blowing, then there will be heaps of paragliders taking off from a nearby hill and the ridgeway to Mam Tor is the perfect viewing platform.
Download the map
The phone signal all around the Peak District is very hit-and-miss.
There will often be times when you’ll have no signal for hours.
As such, it’s worth downloading the map so that it can be used offline to avoid taking the wrong trail.
Download podcasts or music
For the same reason as above, it’s worth downloading any podcast or music that you’d like to listen to on your walk whilst you’re at home with a strong wi-fi.
Let someone know where you’re heading if you’re hiking solo
The Peaks are absolutely huge and despite their popularity, there will be times when you don’t see a sole for quite some time.
In the unlikely event that you were to get an injury and not have any phone signal to contact somebody for support, then you’ll at least want someone to know which trail you may be on if you need rescuing!
Go to the loo before you start the hike
There are no public toilets along this route, however, if you’re planning to stop for a drink or bite to eat in Castleton then there will be an opportunity there.
You’ll reach Castleton after roughly 1 hour.
Take a portable phone charger
One of the most popular phone brands out there sucks for phone battery.
We won’t name and shame, but you can probably take a guess at who we’re talking about.
You might leave the walk thinking you’ll make it around with plenty of battery left upon return, only to be disappointed that after countless videos and images, your phone has given up on you.
This means that even after you’ve taken all the practical steps of downloading the map etc, they’re no use anyway.
We recommend keeping a battery pack on standby in your backpack to a) ensure you can capture even more images and videos and b) so that you can find your way back home safely.
Pack walking gear for all weather conditions
If you’re from the UK, then it won’t be shocking news that the weather can go from lovely with sunny blue skies, to absolutely hammering it down with rain within a matter of moments.
As such, you’ll want to ensure that you’re fully prepared whenever you’re on a hike in the UK (not just this one!).
Bring lots of snacks and water
This might be a fairly obvious tip, but it’s certainly one that we’ve fallen short on when we think to ourselves that it’s only X kilometres, it won’t take that long.
Then all of a sudden, you’re a few hours into the walk and you’ve only walked a couple of kilometres because of the incline or because you’ve been busy taking photos.
In short, always over-prepare when it comes to food and drink.
You’ll be surprised how much longer walks to take around the Peak District.
Alternative Mam Tor walking routes
Whilst we think that this route is the absolute bee’s knee’s out of all of the Mam Tor walks out there, we appreciate that it may not be everyone’s cup of tea for many different reasons.
Luckily there are plenty more alternative options – below you’ll find a couple of maps that may suit you better.
We rate our favourite as moderate difficulty, so below are easy and hard alternatives.
If you’re not looking to challenge yourself too much then the Mam Tor Circular walk is the one you’ll want to pick.
It’s just under 4 kilometres long and follows an easy trail to the summit before looping back around.
It has a small amount of elevation, but there really is no getting away from it if you want to explore this area!
If you’re looking to really push yourself then the Mam Tor, Ladybower & Thorn Hill Circular is a great option. I
t’s a big day out with roughly 10 hours of walking over 31 kilometres. It’s certainly not for the novice hiker, but for those who are used to spending the day on their feet then it’s a great walk to tackle.
Where to stay
Hathersage is one of the larger villages in the area and when summer swings around, it’s bustling. It’s where plenty of other walks begin, most likely heading to either Stannage or Bamford Edge which are two fantastic walks that we highly recommend ticking off your list.
These are also great rock climbing spots if you’re keen to give that a go too.
Hathersage has a train station that connects it to some of the other popular villages in the area, making it a great spot to base yourself not only for this walk but for an entire trip to the High Peak area.
It’s also only 20 minutes away from Sheffield if you’re looking to balance the outdoors with a trip to the city, too.
Since this hike passes through Castleton, it’s the perfect base for anyone looking to conquer the nearby summit of Mam Tor.
Although it’s a tiny village, it’s the perfect spot for those who aren’t travelling by car and has all of the necessary ingredients for an awesome countryside break to the Peaks.
Much like the aforementioned options, Edale is another gorgeous little village in the Peaks.
It’s situated on the right-hand side of the area, making it an easy base to get to if you’re coming from somewhere like Manchester.
Even though it’s fairly small, it’s still got a train station which makes it super easy to explore without a car.
For more walks near Manchester, see this post: Best walks near Manchester
Explore the Peak District further
Whilst this Mam Tor walk is undoubtedly one of the best walks in the Peak District, it’s got some close competition with many others. If you’re looking to explore further on foot, then we’d highly recommend checking out some of the below walks. We promise you won’t be disappointed!
- Lud’s Church walk / an easy walk to an awe-inspiring chasm that’s steeped in history
- Dovedale Stepping Stones walk / a picturesque valley walk to the famous Dovedale Stepping Stones
- Bamford Edge walk / a phenomenal walk with some of the best picture spots in the Peaks
- Kinder Scout walk / a challenging walk to the highest peak in the area
- Winnats Pass walk / an unbelievable adventurous walk across two stunning ridgelines
Stay Wild Travels.
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