The emerging theme of spring 2016 seems to be returning to explore some of the popular areas I’ve always travelled through in the past on the way to somewhere wilder and more remote. The weather forecast reckoned that Good Friday was the only gap in an otherwise soggy weekend so we took off for a day in the Peak district. An early-ish start saw us parking up in Hope with the intention to walk through Cave Dale and up to the Mam Tor ridge.
The first part of the walk was fairly quiet. By the time we got to Castleton it was apparent that a significant fraction of the population of Sheffield had the same idea. Not that I can blame them on a day like today. This area is one of the peak district honeypots so we knew before we left home that it would be busy. Once we found our way through the back streets of Castleton we found ourselves in Cave Dale. This is one of those geological wonders created by the interaction of limestone and water. It seems to be open to debate whether this was created by water erosion from a melting glacier or a cave system that collapsed. A combination of the two seem plausible.
It’s further up here than it looks on the map. On the plus side when you do emerge at the top most of the climbing for the day is done. If you remember to turn around and look behind you then Peveril castle looms over the dale. It looks pretty well defended from this side.
From the top of the dale it’s an easy wander across to where the road emerges from the top of Winnats pass. If like us you’re here on a bank holiday then you can enjoy the views of England’s green and pleasant land as you plod along in the queue to reach the top of Mam Tor. As much as I like a bit of peace and quiet on my walks I’m also in favour of more people getting out to appreciate the green, brown and rocky bits of this island so I can’t really complain. Having said that, I don’t think I’ve ever shared a hill with quite so many people at once. The area around the summit cairn was crawling with people. There is a superb view over the Hope valley from here in spite of the haze.
It’s a shame about the cement works but I suppose it helps the local economy and these things have to exist somewhere. There was a chilly wind blowing at the top of the hill bit once we dropped over the leeward side a bit it was a lovely spring day which made an ideal spot for lunch. The path along the ridge to Hollins Cross and Lose Hill was a constant procession of people in both directions. What you do see in these popular spots is a much broader selection of people. Outdoorsy folks with rucksacks and proper boots passing families out for a day in the sunshine with granny and the kids. That can only be good thing in my view. There’s enough room for all of us out here. The Mam Tor ridge separates the Hope valley from the Edale valley. As you walk along the ridge the view to the north takes in a large chunk of the Kinder Scout plateau over Edale.
According to The Walking Englishman where we found this route it’s 8.5 miles around this loop. Great website for those that want to get out and explore by the way. By the time we were about two-thirds of the way along the ridge those with short legs were starting to feel the distance a bit. We decided to cut the corner and skip the summit of Lose Hill for today. It’s not like it’s going anywhere. That means it’s downhill all the way from here. The descent is steep which makes it hard on the knees but it’s worth it. If you choose the right path off the hill you’ll find yourself passing the marvellously named hostelry The Cheshire Cheese. All that remained for the day was a well-earned pint and a healthy reminder that even short legs can walk a long way.