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The Great Ridge

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The Great Ridge
Author: ptruman, Published: 14 Jan 2010 Walk rating : Rating:star1 The Great Ridge Derbyshire walking Guidestar1 The Great Ridge Derbyshire walking Guidestar1 The Great Ridge Derbyshire walking Guidestar1 The Great Ridge Derbyshire walking Guidestar0 The Great Ridge Derbyshire walking Guide
Derbyshire, Dark Peak
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
The Great Ridge
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot The Great Ridge Derbyshire walking Guide boot The Great Ridge Derbyshire walking Guide boot The Great Ridge Derbyshire walking Guide
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This walk takes you from the car park on Mam Tor, up to the top and then along the ridge to Lose Hill (5 miles return). There's a bit of up and down but the route stays at a good height above the Hope Valley to the south and the Vale of Edale to the north thereby commanding fantastic views in any direction you look. With good weather the distant views are excellent - from Lose Hill you can get a great view down the Derwent Valley taking in many landmarks.
Navigationally this walk is really simple, just follow the ridge to the end and return along the same path. The slope up to Back Tor requires care over the rocks, but the rest is nice and straightforward.
The western end of this walk tends to be busy with many people flocking up to the top of Mam Tor or to take off in their hang-gliders. But whilst a popular spot, there's plenty of space.
I believe the term "The Great Ridge" was coined by W.A.Poucher and first used in his book "Peak Panorama, Kinder Scout to Dovedale" published in 1946 to describe the "great barrier which rises between Edale and Castleton." It is quite unique in the way it forms a high wall between the two valleys and as Poucher noted in 1946 there's a stone wall that runs along the whole length, although it is rather dilapidated in many places, more so now than when Poucher was strolling these hills over 50 years ago!


Just down from the start point are the Blue John caverns and mines, all within a short walk away if interested. The road to or from Castleton has changed over the years. A road used to run up the side of Mam Tor from Castleton, but this has slipped away as parts of Mam Tor have fallen away. Repairs to the road have now stopped and in consequence the route is now via Winnats Pass, an amazing route through a deep limestone gorge. Mam Tor has been referred to as the Shivering Mountain to reflect its crumbling nature. It's not that stable now due to the alternating layers of shale and gritstone.
This does however provide a great place for hang gliders. There are few days during the summer months when there are not one or two of the gliders soaring the currents from the mountain slopes. Quite fascinating to watch too.
The ridge is criss-crossed by other paths as a quick look at maps and the ridge itself will show. These were originally used by people walking to work from one valley to the other. You can still sometimes see children walking across to or from school, but now it's mostly walkers! But these paths do present great opportunities to extend this walk.

The walk starts at the National Trust car park on the Castleton to Chapel en le Frith road although this can be busy at times. Nearest post code (further along the road towards Castleton) S33 8WA. There's additional parking along the road sides nearby, but do be very careful given the touristy nature of the area and the narrow roads.

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Walk Sections

Mam Nick to Hollins Cross
Mam Nick to Hollins Cross

Start: OS ref SK123832
End: OS ref SK136845

Start point: 53.346 lat, -1.8154 long
End point: 53.3575 lat, -1.7969 long

If parked in the Mam Nick car park (National Trust - pay and display) follow the path out of the top of the car park and up the side of the road towards Mam Tor. Simply follow the path that runs up to the summit of Mam Tor which is at 517m above sea level. There's a trig point at the summit and the views from here are excellent - a good opportunity to regain breath and enjoy!
There are often hang gliders soaring around and above Mam Tor; they tend to take off from the eastern slopes just below the summit. Much of the southern face has collapsed taking the road below with it and has left a rather sheer drop and gives Mam Tor an unmistakeable profile when viewed from below.
Mam Tor is believed to have at some stage been a hill top fort and excavations have revealed Bronze Age pottery. Whether it was ever used for military purposes is open to conjecture, but it certainly was an important location.
From Mam Tor follow the gentle sloping path to Hollins Cross. As will be very clear this marks where several paths cross - the footpath from Edale to Castleton crosses here.

Hollins Cross to Lose Hill
Hollins Cross to Lose Hill

Start: OS ref SK136845
End: OS ref SK153853

Start point: 53.3575 lat, -1.7969 long
End point: 53.365 lat, -1.7716 long

Follow the well work path from Hollins Cross along the top of Barker Bank. Once this dips there's the unmistakeable Back Tor ahead. The path that runs up the rocks is quite steep and it is essential you are wearing appropriate footwear to go up (or down). If concerned, there is an alternative path that flanks Back Tor on it's southern (Hope Valley/Castleton) side and which rejoins the main path before ascending Lose Hill.
The walk up to Lose Hill summit at 476m is straightforward and once you reach the top it is well worthwhile looking around at the views. To the north and north west is the great Kinder plateau towering above the Vale of Edale. Almost due east is the peak of Win Hill and beyond it Derwent Edge. A little further round to the south is the characteristic Great Tor on Bamford Edge.
Lose Hill is also known as Ward's Piece. G.H.B. 'Bert' Ward was a leading campaigner for opening access to the Dark Peak and was known as the 'King of the Clarion Ramblers' for his writing of the Sheffield Clarion Ramblers Handbooks. In 1945 he was presented with the summit of Lose Hill and some of the surrounding land on its eastern side. He in turn presented this to the National Trust so it could be enjoyed by all. Hence the name.
Once you have finished enjoying the views retrace your steps all the way back to Mam Tor and the car park at Mam Nick. Do be very careful descending Back Tor - those concerned about it, unsure of footing or who suffer from vertigo should take the path that flanks the southern side.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2010 by the author ptruman and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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5 images to "The Great Ridge"

63_0ptruman1263507564 The Great Ridge Derbyshire walking Guide Image by: ptruman
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
The northern side of Mam Tor from Rushup Edge. March 2008.
63_1ptruman1263507565 The Great Ridge Derbyshire walking Guide Image by: ptruman
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Mam Tor and the Great Ridge from Rushup Edge. March 2008.
63_2ptruman1263507565 The Great Ridge Derbyshire walking Guide Image by: ptruman
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
From Mam Tor towards Hollins Cross.
63_3ptruman1263507565 The Great Ridge Derbyshire walking Guide Image by: ptruman
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Along Barker Bank to Back Tor.
63_4ptruman1263507565 The Great Ridge Derbyshire walking Guide Image by: ptruman
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Lose Hill (Ward's Piece)

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