GUIDE TO WALKING MAM TOR: Routes, difficulty, parking & more!

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GUIDE TO WALKING MAM TOR: Routes, difficulty, parking & more!

Mam Tor is one of the Peak District’s most breathtaking hikes. With fantastically accessible hiking trails, lush green peaks and spectacular valley views, it’s a truly wonderful place! Mam Tor is great for both seasoned climbers looking for a straightforward hike or new hikers looking for their first challenge. So, what are you waiting for? Here is your complete guide to walking Mam Tor!


What is Mam Tor?

Mam Tor is a 517 metre (1,696 feet) high hill near the village of Castleton in the Peak District, just 45 minutes outside of Manchester.

Stone path to Mam Tor with dark clouds in the background

Why is it called ‘Mam Tor’?

Mam Tor means “Mother Hill” because of the frequent landslides that occurred in the area that led to many ‘mini’ hills forming beneath it.

These landslips are caused by unstable lower layers of shale rock, which helped to coin Mam Tor’s other nickname, “the Shivering Mountain”.

Peaks of Mam Tor from Edale Village with houses in the foreground

What is the history of Mam Tor?

Mam Tor is thought to have been occupied from 1200 BC by an initial late Bronze Age and later Iron Age hill fort situated at the hill’s peak.

Beneath it, archaeological evidence showed that there was a larger settlement around the fort as timber hut foundations and pottery have been found buried here. How cool is that?!

Summit stone at Mam Tor at dusk

Why is Mam Tor so popular?

Mam Tor is such a popular hike because it’s a relatively easy climb and has some of the most stunning views in the Peak District.

The hike to Mam Tor was even voted the 10th best walk by the public in a top 100 UK walks poll!

From the top you get a 360 view of Kinder Scout to the north-west, Derwent Moors to the north and east and the Vale of Edale at your feet.

It sits on the edge of the dry gorge of Winnats Pass and on clear days you can even see all the way to Manchester!

It also has a number of cool caverns below it that you can explore. These include: Treak Cliff Cavern, Blue John Cavern, Speedwell Cavern and Peak Cavern.

Summit stone at Mam Tor from afar with a stone path leading to it at golden hour

How do you get to Mam Tor?

There are two equally easy ways to get to Mam Tor either by train or car.

Getting to Mam Tor by train:

The nearest train station to the start of the hiking route is Edale. Trains run to and from Manchester every hour, a part from some Sundays when it is usually every two hours.

From the train station, it’s only a 10 minute walk to the start of the route.

Edale Train Station sign

Getting to Mam Tor by car

Mam Tor is less than an hour’s drive from its closest cities, Manchester and Sheffield.

Mel taking a selfie from the top of Mam Tor with wind swept hair and green peaks in the background and a winding road

Is there car parking at Mam Tor?

There’s plenty of places to park at Mam Tor, including the National Trust car park, the roadside or by Edale Train Station.

The closest car park is the National Trust car park which is located at postcode S33 8WA.

The car park is free for National Trust members however non-members must pay online using PayByPhone.

There’s no actual parking meters at the car park but I find this more convenient because who has change these days anyway?

There’s also free roadside parking available by the National Trust car park, if you’re early enough to get a spot!

National Trust car park wooden gate to the path to Mam Tor
National Trust car park

What routes are there to the summit?

The three most popular routes to the summit of Mam Tor are the following:

  • National Trust car park route – this route is the shortest distance to the summit and only takes between 20 to 30 minutes to walk. It’s also the easiest as there are steps all the way to the top. This is a great route if you’re short on time or have small children with you.
Muddy path to the summit of Mam Tor with people walking down the stone path on the left and the green peaks in the background
  • Edale to Mam Tor route – this route takes you from Edale Train Station to the summit through the National Trust’s Hardenclough Farm. This route is 3.38 miles long and will take you about an hour and a half to climb and around half an hour to descend. The views are better from this side of the hill but the terrain can be a bit more challenging. The path is steep and can be uneven with muddy patches where the ground has fractured due to flooding. However, past the midway point it’s mostly an even path and then stone steps along the final ascent. This route is by far the most fun though!
Gateway to Hardenclough Farm near Mam Tor's trail
  • Castleton, Mam Tor and Lose Hill Circular – this route is considered a moderately challenging route. It’s 7.7 miles long and takes on average four and a half hours to complete. The route connects Castleton with Lose Hill via Back Tor, Hollins Cross and Mam Tor and will take you up the Great Ridge from Lose Hill.
Steps to the summit of Mam Tor with heavy mist either side of the hill

How long does it take to walk to the top of Mam Tor?

It takes around an hour and a half to walk to the top of Mam Tor from the train station route. It’s 3.38 miles with an ascent of 267 meters.

From the National Trust car park side of the hill, it only takes about 20 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on your fitness levels. If you are taking small children this will add on a bit of time of course!

The circular route will take you on average four and a half hours to complete.

Mel posing at the stone summit of Mam Tor with her dog Lilly

Is Mam Tor a difficult walk?

It’s not overly difficult to walk up to the top of Mam Tor, especially if you’re climbing from the National Trust car park side of the hill.

There is a steep initial hill you will climb which will only take you about five minutes and from there, there are stone steps leading you to the summit.

From the train station, the route is a little tougher as it’s longer and the terrain can be quite uneven in places. It gets muddy when it rains and you need to watch out for uneven rocks and ledges that you can slip on.

The circular route is the same difficulty as the train station route, just a longer hike.

If this is your first hike, you’ll need to take a few pauses to catch your breath as it’s quite steep initially.

Mel leaning on a gate on the descent from the summit of Mam Tor with peaks in the background

What should I wear to climb Mam Tor?

The British weather is unpredictable at the best of times. But you can times that unpredictability factor by 10 when you’re climbing any mountain or high hill!

Over the years I’ve been hiking I’ve found that no matter how high the mountain or hill, they always seem to make their own weather!

And no matter what the weather looks like when you start, it is likely to change very quickly or be different once you reach the top!

When I hike Mam Tor during the summer or early autumn, I wear water-resistant sports leggings and a nylon t-shirt that won’t rub on me as I begin to sweat.

I also take a simple lightweight, waterproof jacket that can easily be rolled up into my backpack.

If it’s raining on the day you’re climbing Mam Tor, I would recommend wearing a pair of waterproof over-trousers. You can always take them off when the rain stops.

You’ll also need to take a warm layer (a jumper or mid-layer fleece jacket) in case you get cold at the summit or the weather turns.

However, no matter the weather, it gets colder the higher the altitude, so make sure to pack an additional layer just in case.

Mel climbing up the muddy path to the top of Mam Tor with her dog Lilly with the green fields in the background and a leafless tree

ALL THE CLOTHES YOU’LL NEED for the longer routes:

  • Hiking boots (I have these ones in green and they’ve lasted me for years and are still good as new!)
  • Hiking socks (these will protect your feet from friction and decrease your chances of getting blisters. As well as keep your feet dry and cool with more breathable and comfortable material)
  • Lightweight, waterproof jacket (this is essential even in the summer because the weather can turn at any point)
  • Water-resistant sports leggings and waterproof over-trousers (this is my personal preference as I just like having the movement and breathability that sports leggings provide with the insurance of having waterproof over-trousers to put over the top if the weather turns or I start to get cold) OR fleece-lined waterproof trousers (for colder weather)
  • Nylon/ polyester t-shirt (avoid cotton as it absorbs moisture so it’ll trap against your skin, making you feel damp and hot as you sweat. This can also cause rubbing which gets super uncomfortable the longer you hike)
  • Mid-layer fleece jacket (or jumper)
  • Baseball cap or bobble hat (depending on what time of year you go)
Mel at the top of Mam Tor during a rain storm wearing a pink waterproof jacket
Caught in a summer rain storm at the top of Mam Tor – right jacket, wrong shoes!

What do I need to pack to climb Mam tor?

As Mam Tor is a relatively short hike (unless you take the circular route) you won’t need to pack a lot.

But I do advise due to the unpredictability of the weather that you take a light weight, waterproof backpack and pack the following:

  1. Lightweight, waterproof jacket (even on hot days the weather may turn or the wind will pick up at the summit – these jackets roll up really small in your bag and are super lightweight)
  2. Mid-layer fleece jacket (just in case it gets chilly – especially when you’re descending and starting to cool down)
  3. Baseball cap or bobble hat (depending on what time of year you go)
  4. Minimum of 500ml of water (if it’s a hot day you’ll need to take more)
  5. Compeed blister plasters
  6. Light weight roll on suncream (this nifty suncream takes up minimal space in your backpack and is easy to apply on the go as a roll-on)
  7. Mini portable charger
  8. High-carb snacks e.g. Graze and Deliciously Ella (which are my faves!) – you won’t need to pack a lunch if you’d prefer to eat in the pub or cafe afterwards but if you fancy sitting at the summit to savour the view, definitely take a pack lunch and enjoy a picnic at the top!
Mel taking a selfie on the stone path to the summit of Mam Tor

Is Mam Tor dog friendly?

Yes! Our dogs absolutely LOVED walking Mam Tor. Just bear in mind you’ll need to keep them on a lead between 1st March and 31st July which is lambing season.

If you prefer to hike with your dog off lead, I’d try and avoid this time of year.

Alternatively, I’d recommend getting a longer sports lead for your dog. If you’re looking for one that is affordable but durable, I’d get the Barkswell Hands Free Dog Lead.

These leads are specifically designed for more high intensity sports with your dog. They have a bungee design that is shock absorbing so you won’t feel your dog pull as you climb.

The leads also attach to a belt around your waist so you’re able to hike hands-free. This comes in very handy when you’re scaling mounds of uneven rocks!

A blonde and dark haired cockapoo being taken for a walk on a muddy path to the top of Mam Tor

Is Mam Tor suitable for children?

Mam Tor is very doable for young kids, especially if you are doing the quick route from the National Trust car park to the summit (which is only about 20 minutes).

I even saw a couple taking their toddler and baby up the hill from the steep Edale side when I last went! Which shows you just how accessible the hill is.

It’s also not a very long walk so you can abandon ship at any moment and be at the bottom of the hill relatively quickly if they struggle (or play up!).

If you have a toddler I recommend a toddler hiking backpack just in case they get fussy or tired after walking for a while.

The OE Hiking Carrier For Child and Toddler is comfortable for parents and toddlers with great hip support, sunshade and detachable backpack.

It can also be used as a regular nappy bag when it’s folded down.

Mel wearing a Travel Hack backpack and red t-shirt walking up a stoney path on the way up to Mam Tor walking with her blonde cockapoo dog Lilly

Is there anywhere to eat near Mam Tor?

There are two fantastic places to eat near Mam Tor, The Rambler Inn and The Penny Pot Cafe.

Mel drinking a glass bottle of diet coke and smiling with a vegan burger and chips in front of her in the Ramblers Inn pub in Edale

The Rambler Inn

The Rambler Inn is a wonderful country pub with a large garden that I love sitting out in after hiking with an ice cold beveragini! 😉

This gorgeous local pub is steeped in Derbyshire history. Think roaring fires in the winter and a sun trap beer garden in the summer along with real ale and great traditional pub grub.

It’s located next door to Edale Train Station and is the hiker’s go-to pit stop to kick back and relax after a great hike.

The Ramblers Inn in Edale, a stony old manor house with a large garden and leafless tree in front of it

This picturesque country pub is also vegetarian and vegan friendly. Options include: vegan nachos topped with chilli and melted cheese, vegan pie with chunky chip and peas and a vegan lentil burger with chunky chips.

There are daily vegan specials as well which also include desserts and the food is lovely!

It’s everything you want in great pub grub which is tasty, filling and hearty.

Vegan pie, chips and mushy peas at the Ramblers Inn in Edale

The Penny Pot Cafe

This lovely cafe located next door to Edale Train Station is perfect for hikers looking to grab a quick lunch or snack.

They do great homemade soups, freshly made sandwiches and toasties. They’re also always stocked up with locally made ice creams for those hot summer hikes!

I’m pleased to report that The Penny Pot Cafe is vegetarian and vegan friendly as well.

I love their homemade vegan sandwiches and date and banana flapjacks especially!

Outside the Penny Pot Cafe in Edale

Is Mam Tor worth it?

Ab-so-lutely! Mam Tor is one of the Peak District’s most breathtaking hikes. With fantastically accessible hiking trails, lush green peaks and spectacular valley views, it’s a truly wonderful place!

So, what are you waiting for? 😉

The stone path on the way back down from the summit of Mam Tor with sheep in the background and a red sunset

walking mam tor kit LIST:

  1. Hiking boots
  2. Hiking socks
  3. Lightweight, waterproof jacket
  4. Osprey Waterproof Hikelite Backpack
  5. Water-resistant sports leggings and waterproof over trousers OR fleece-lined waterproof trousers (for colder weather)
  6. Nylon/ polyester t-shirt
  7. Mid-layer fleece jacket
  8. Baseball cap or bobble hat
  9. Compeed blister plasters
  10. Roll on suncream
  11. Mini portable charger
  12. Minimum of 500ml of water
  13. High-carb packed lunch and protein bar snacks (Graze and Deliciously Ella are my faves!) – optional if you’d prefer not to eat in the pub or cafe afterwards


Have a wonderful day climbing Mam Tor my loves! Don’t forget to come back and share your experience in the comments below! 😄

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