Mam Tor, above Castleton is a fabulous place to visit, photograph and walk along. Below is a guide to the area including photos, tips on how to capture them and walking directions with possible viewpoints for you to see. All the images below are available to buy as prints. Visit my Peak District Photography gallery where you can find a selection of these images or contact me directly.
If you would like more guides to locations in the Peak District you can buy my eBook, Peak District Through The Lens or use an interactive app, SNAPP Guides with 100 of my spots featured on there. Or why not join me on a workshop and let me be your guide?
Mam Tor, for most, is the pinnacle of photography locations in the Peak District. It boasts easy to access elevated views of the often mist-lined valleys of Edale and Hope below.
Such a popular location for photography ensures on any given day you are likely to have the company of several photographers during the early hours. If visiting later in the day for a relaxing stroll, be prepared for a motorway of human traffic. Don’t let either of these detract though and enjoy the spot. Head out on a weekday if you prefer a quieter time.
The 517m high hill is known locally as ‘The Shivering Mountain’. Due to its rock composition of shale, it is very unstable and has frequent landslips. So much so, the A625 which used to be underneath Mam Tor is now permanently closed to vehicles and is locally known the ‘The Broken Road’.
From around 1200 BC, Mam Tor also used to be an Iron Age hill fort, which is clearly evident when viewed from the neighbouring Rushup Edge, and the ramparts can be clearly seen circling the hillside.
The whole area is fantastic for both walkers and photographer’s, with far reaching views and easy access. There are classic vistas or concentrate on abstract views. One of the most notable characteristics of Mam Tor and something most chase is the beautiful mist and fog lined valleys which are a common occurance during sunrise if the conditions are ripe.
Those feeling energetic could walk the whole of the Great Ridge afterwards or the easier optionis to pop into Castleton for a well-earnedbreakfast after an early start.
Access Rating: 15 Minutes to the summit over a well laid flagged path. Watch out when icy as the stones become slippy. The walk can be extended along the whole ridge along generally well maintained paths.
Photo Potential: 5/5. An excellent place for photographer’s for all abilities. Fog and mist often builds in the valleys in the morning.
Map: Explorer OL1 – Dark Peak
Parking Grid Reference: SK123833
Parking GPS Coordinates:
Latitude : 53.34585
Longitude : -1.815265
Parking Postal Code: S33 8WA (Please note this is the nearest postcode and takes you to a farm in the valley below).
Car Park: Mam Nick (National Trust Pay and Display. Alternate parking on roadside lay-bys available).
Location Grid Reference: SK127836
Best Season: Autumn/Spring for fog and mist but works all year round.
Best Time of Day: Sunrise
Distance to location from Car Park: 650m
Time to Location: 15 Minutes
Mam Tor affords some of the best viewsin the Peak District with an ease of access for the rewards. Most of the ascent of the 517m hill is cut out by being able to drive within a 15 minutes’ walk of the summit. Most of the hill has a flagged path, although some muddy sections are found leaving the summit to head down to viewpoint 5. The location isn’t readily accessible for those in a wheelchair, however, good views from Mam Nick can also be had.
Best Time of Year & Day
The location is at its best with a thick blanket of fog or mist in the valleys below. This is typically in autumn through to early spring. Look out for cool clear nights to maximize your chances and head out for sunrise. There’s never really a bad season to go, but a sunrise is always the best time.
How to get here:
Drive from Castleton Visitor Centre, headright at the mini-roundabout for 0.4 milesthen turn left onto Winnats Pass. Follow the pass to the top and turn right, follow for another mile and Mam Nick car park is onyour right in an area of trees. There are lay- bys for free parking just before Mam Nick.
From Mam Nick car park walk upwards through the trees onto the path at the side of the road and head right. You will come to a gate letting you onto Mam Tor, follow the distinct flagged path all the way up to thesummit which will take 10 minutes to reach for most. From here you can continue onwards following the Great Ridge, taking in Back Tor, Hollins Cross and Lose Hill if you wish. You can either do the route as a linear route (easier) or drop down into Castleton or Hope to get lunch and walk back along the valley and find an alternative route. A full day out would be to head up Cave Dale and then along Winnats Pass before returning to Mam Nick Car Park.
Highlights & Sights
Around halfway up to the summit there is a view over the exquisite ‘driving road’ leading to Edale from the Mam Nick Car Park. The road snakes and winds its way down and this elevated position offers the perfect opportunity to capture it. It is better leaving this spot until your return from the summit as the early morning light takes a while to illuminate the road. Alternatively this could be a sunset location in the summer months, try getting it right by using something such as TPE which will help you plan lining the sun up with the end of the road.
The summit offers a variety of opportunities,being original is the hard part. Explore here, thetrig point offers a good foreground interest but also heading off the summit to the cliff edge affords dramatic views to the landslip below.
While at the summit don’t forget to check the view back to where you came from, it can often be easy to look at the grand views and forget what’s behind you. The flagged path back downlends itself well as a leading line looking over to Rushup Edge.
The Hope Cement Works is easily visible from Mam Tor, and considered by some an eyesore on the landscape. However, the industrial plantdoes provide many jobs for the local area. Embrace what is presented to you and portray landscape vs. man. Using a telephoto will allow you to pick out the cement works. On a misty day, the chimney may just poke out of the top.
The lofty summit allows you to pick details out in the valley below. Often when days are misty a telephoto lens works well to concentrate on abstract details and shadows. A particularly good view is down to Winnats Pass but look for trees, drystone walls and any other details which form patterns.
Further down from the summit as you start to descend the Great Ridge, there are superb views of the ridge itself. There is the odd rock, a flagged path and a leading fence, which all make great foreground interest. There are plenty of spaces to stand, so there’s no set composition. Explore and try and find something unique.
Once the Great Ridge starts to level out, you will come to a gated fence. This viewpoint perhaps makes the most iconic image in the Peak District. The path runs along the ridge, inviting the viewer to walk along, while on special days a thick fog will line the valley.
From the gated fence, don’t forget to look behind you to Mam Tor. It is often easy to forget what is around, but the Shivering Mountain will be cast in glorious light as the sun rises and strikes it.
From various places walking down from the summit of Mam Tor to the gate you are rewarded with great views along the Great Ridge. It is advisable to get a telephoto out to photograph leading lines, pick out details or photograph it under mist.
Thank you for taking the time to read and hopefully it helps you out. For further information on the Peak District such as accommodation etc, head over to the tourist board, Visit Peak District.