Distance: 5.5 miles
Time: 3-4 hours
Terrain: Country lanes, hill paths and trails
Accessibility: Moderate, some inclines and uneven terrain, gates, no stiles
Start and end grid reference: 14854
This circular walk takes in the most classic views of this part of the Peak District, starting and ending in the pretty village of Castleton. On the way it climbs through Cave Dale, offering a wonderful perspective of Peveril Castle. From there it treks up on to Mam Tor and along the iconic Great Ridge, from where there are magnificent views of the Hope Valley and Edale Valley, before descending back into Castleton.
This is a walk of just over 5.5 miles. For the most part it uses clearly-marked trails and hill paths, with some country lanes. Be aware that the opening section through Cave Dale is quite rocky and follows the bed of a stream so is usually wet underfoot, as is a short section on the way back down from Hollins Cross. Castleton has a wide selection of pubs, cafes, restaurants and shops, and the walk starts and ends at the Vistitor Information Centre, which has its own café and shop. There is also a large public car park here (parking fees applicable). Allow 3-4 hours to complete this walk at a moderate pace, allowing for rest stops to take in the views.
The walk starts from the Visitor Information Centre on Buxton Road in Castleton (grid reference 14854, postcode S33 8WN). From the Visitor Information Centre walk to the main road through Castleton and turn left, heading towards The Bull’s Head public house. Once you reach The Bull’s Head, turn right and take the road immediately opposite, Castle Street, signposted to Peveril Castle. You will walk past two further pubs on Castle Street, The Castle and The George.
When the road widens out, do not continue following the signs to Peveril Castle but instead follow the road as it bears left and goes past the triangle of village green and the old market cross. Keep the cross on your left and follow the road up towards Pindale Road. Look out for a Public Bridleway sign to Cave Dale that leads off to the right between houses, to the immediate right of Dale Cottage. As you emerge into Cave Dale turn right and follow the path up through this beautiful gorge. You will see the ruins of Peveril Castle high up on your right.
Continue on the path through Cave Dale. Be aware that this path is uneven in places and very often wet underfoot, so do take care. Keep straight on following the marked Public Bridleway, ignoring other paths off.
As the path levels off over open moorland, follow the signposted Public Bridleway as it bears left towards the corner of the field and two wide gates between stone walls. Immediately after the second gate, at a crossroads of paths, turn right through a metal gate to follow a grit lane between stone walls. Keep following this lane as it turns right, ignoring the Public Bridleway that continues straight on through a further metal gate. The grit lane continues between a fence to the left and a stone wall to the right, with a farm visible on the right ahead and Mam Tor in the distance.
Continue on the grit lane past the farm, through a further gate, still keeping the stone wall to your right. You will eventually reach a metal gate that leads you to a road. Cross over the road with care and follow the Public Footpath through a gate and across a field almost immediately opposite, keeping to the right of a stone wall at first. Continue straight on as the wall turns left, and keep following the well-marked path.
The path reaches another road. Again, cross with care and go straight on through a gate, following the Public Footpath sign. The well-marked path now climbs steadily upwards towards the gap between Mam Tor to the right and Rushup Edge to the left. Pass through another gate and up a series of steps, keeping right at the top and through a further gate on to Mam Tor. Follow the well-laid stone path upwards towards the trig point.
At 517m high, Mam Tor is one of the highest peaks in this part of the Peak District and the view from the trig point is well worth pausing to enjoy for a while. Facing you in your direction of travel is the defined ‘backbone’ of the Great Ridge, with the Hope Valley laid out to your right and the Edale Valley to your left.
Continue on the stone path as it tracks over the Great Ridge. On reaching a crossroads of paths, look out for a squat, round, stone waymarker known as Hollins Cross. At this point turn right through a gate and head straight down on the well-marked path.
At a junction of paths continue straight on, through a gate, following the Public Bridleway sign to Hollowford Road. The terrain here is uneven so take care, and the route follows a small stream for some distance so may be wet underfoot. Continue straight on through a further gate, looking out for an information board about this part of the landscape, the Liggate.
Follow the path straight on here, signposted Hollowford Road to Castleton, and keep following this route as it widens out and becomes a quiet road. Follow the road as it curves between stone walls, ignoring footpaths off. The road soon reaches houses and leads back into the village of Castleton.
At a T-junction of roads cross over the road to the footpath and turn right, passing the village primary school on your left. On reaching Ye Olde Nags Head pub, follow the road right along the main road of Castleton, to soon reach your starting point at the Visitor Information Centre on your right.