One of the most famous walks in The Peak District is a hike up Mam Tor. You could do the direct route and park in the car park at the bottom, but where’s the fun in that?! Instead, we opted to do a 5 mile route from the town of Castleton and take in a bit more of the wonderful scenery surrounding us.
Location: You start the Mam Tor hike in Castleton, where there is ample parking. The most central car park is by the Castleton Visitor Centre. It costs £6 to park for the day, but does get filled up early so if it’s full when you arrive there is another car park down the road.
Hike distance and time: The full round loop is 5 miles long and will take around 3 hours depending on fitness, so makes for the perfect half day trip.
Terrain: The terrain includes quite a steep climb, so you need to be of reasonable fitness. The route is largely paved or home to well trodden grass paths so no scrambling is involved. I even wore trainers rather than hiking boots, which I wouldn’t dream of on some hikes so overall this is an easy to moderate hike.
We followed the route guidance HERE but for some reason did it in reverse.
A. Start in Castleton
Arrive in Castleton before it gets too busy. You then have two options – either explore Castleton itself first while it’s still quiet and then head on your walk, or do the walk first then finish in Castleton with lunch in a pub and then explore. In Castleton, there are lovely places to discover including strolling along the river and a trip to Peveril Castle.
Either way, to start the walking route from the visitor centre car park, exit at the top right corner of the car park along the little stream away from the main road.
B. Castleton to Hollins Cross
Head out of the car park and head along one of the many paths that lead towards the hills, which start out running alongside the little river. We actually diverted a bit from the route, and ended up following a path that ran alongside Dunscar Farm. This section of the route is very flat and easy to walk.
Eventually, you will arrive at the base of the hill, and the only way is up! It’s a steep climb from the lanes up to Hollins Cross, but we did it in stages on a scorcher of a day, with plenty of water. The views at the top from Hollins Cross are stunning, so recover by sitting to enjoy them for a minute or two before continuing.
C. Hollins Cross to Mam Tor
From Hollins Cross, head left across to Mam Tor itself. This section is one of England’s most famous ridge walks, so be sure to wrap up warm as it can get very windy up there! It’s pretty much a straight and flat-ish walk, with incredible views out across the fields – and of course be sure to get the obligatory Trig point photo!
D. Mam Tor to Winnats Pass
From the Mam Tor summit, continue heading away from the direction you came, and descend down. There is only really one path to follow and it’s quite well paved, although made of a number of steep steps. You will eventually come out in a field (probably full of sheep) and it’s time to start your loop back to Castleton. Continue through the fields, past a disused quarry and in the direction of Winnats Head Farm, and then walk through the incredible Winnats Pass on your way back.
E. Winnats Pass to Castleton
After walking through Winnats Pass, continue back round in to Castleton. You will pass Speedwell Cavern on your way, so if underground caves appeal then you could always pop in to discover a bit more about the area’s mining history. If not, continue on to Castleton and treat yourself to a pub meal – you deserve it!
So what do you think? I absolutely loved this hike and it felt good to complete one of the Peak District’s most famous routes. Thanks so much for reading; stay safe and happy travelling.