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  • Writer's pictureClaire

Peak District part 2: Castleton and Mam Tor

Following last years first family climb we knew our next one needed to be at the Peak District, this was also our friends daughters first mountain climb so we picked Mam Tor which I found to be slightly easier than Pen Y Ghent.

Mam Tor is a s 517m hill sitting on the outskirts of Castleton so you are in a prime spot for some well earned refreshment after the walk. We were right in the middle of a heatwave but decided to take it slowly, rest often and drink plenty of water, and most importantly, wear hats and sunscreen. The walk up is a nice steady incline that takes you up to Odin Mine, which is a disused leadmine and an old crushing wheel, then through a patch of woodland which we needed in this heatwave week we have been having as the mine had a lovely big cold cave we could have a rest in.

Coming out of the woodland you then embark on the Great Ridge which is a ridge that separates the vales of Edale and Castleton in Derbyshire, as such the Panoramic views are tremendous. Then its a long pretty gentle incline to the Trig Point at the top. It was fairly busy as you may expect when we got there but was still nice to sit there and eat our picnic soaking in the views and watching the paragliders rise up in the thermals then begin their descent. Our descent the other side was much steeper, that took us down to Winnats Pass, which as the name suggests is a hill pass in a limestone gorge, again affording the most stunning of views. Also on the way down there are several caverns just below it, such as: Treak Cliff Cavern, Blue John Cavern, Speedwell Cavern and Peak Cavern, which we had tickets for tomorrow.

Back in Castleton we found a great pub called The George, where in the garden they had a pop up Pizza van called the Pizzabox - these were the best Pizzas I've ever had, washed down with an ice cold beer, it was a heavenly end to a brilliant walk.

The next day we came back to do Peak Cavern, affectionately known as the Devils Arse in Castleton, due to a noise it makes when water is running through it, now of course disappointingly to us we were in a middle of a heatwave and drought so no rumblings can be heard for us. (If I am honest the main reason my boys wanting to go to this one above all the others to hear the Devil farting).

The start of the tour gives you an insight into the history of the cave and what it was used for and a demonstration in Rope Making before going into the Cavern, This is because there is a remains of a ropemakers village within the main cavern, which is now used also for Concerts which would make an interesting event. I have to admit going on a tour meant that 1. it was busy and 2 lots of talking and listening and not enough adventuring. You can only really go into the first 3 caverns, the rest is blocked off to the public and only available to people who are undertaking cave exploration. However these caves are quite famous as lots of filming has been done here over the years for various films and tv shows.

You can also link your tickets to Speedwell Cavern and see that cavern by boat but there was not availability on that one which is a shame, as this is fairly short I would definitely recommend booking the two for the ultimate caving experience.

Castleton itself is pleasant nestled under Mam Tor and has a generous amount of pubs and tea shops as well as some lovely gift shops selling lots of jewellery made from the mineral that is mined nearby, predominantly flourite. The walk we did to Mam Tor can be found in this Cicerone Guide

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