February Adventure – Hiking Mam Tor

My February microadventure was planned very last minute. I had a free weekend, a few ideas and I was itching to get out of the city. When I heard that snow was forecast for the high ground,  I decided it would be a great time to go hiking in the Peak District. So on a Thursday evening, I convinced a few friends that climbing a mountain in the snow was a good idea. Then the next day we drove up to the Peak District after work, and stayed in a YHA hostel in Edale.

I was a little disappointed about how little snow there was when I woke up on Saturday morning. I had hoped for a little more. In the valleys, the snow was more like sleet, so it wasn’t settling, but at least there was a few centimetres of snow up in the hills.

Before we set off from the hostel, we cooked ourselves some bacon, eggs and sausages. A cooked breakfast is probably the best way to start any winter hike.

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Our chosen hike was a circular route from Hope village, straight up to the summit of Lose Hill, along the ridge to Mam Tor, then back down through Castleton and back to Hope. This meant we did most of the climbing at the start of the hike, but it wasn’t too steep. The path started out muddy on the way up from Hope, and we had to climb over a tree that had fallen across the track, but it soon improved as we climbed higher.

At the summit of Lose Hill visibility had seriously decreased as the snow picked up, and we could no longer see the valleys below, and it was feeling a bit colder in the wind. So after a quick group photo (using the trig point as a tripod) we dropped down a little, where there was some shelter from the wind, and followed the ridge path along to Back Tor.

I was surprised by how many walkers we met along our way, from serious walkers (like the guy above), to runners and even a group of school kids. It was good to see other people that also thought the conditions were great for a hike.

Just after Back Tor, we found spot that gave a good view of the valley below, once the low cloud cleared a little, so we stopped for a few photos like this one.

We continued on up to Mam Tor, where wind picked up a lot and the path got slippier because of the snow. We stayed at the summit long enough to take another group photo, using the trig point as a tripod again. This time I had to also use my backpack as a wind-break to stop my camera from being blown away.

On the way down from Mam Tor, we found what I thought was a good spot for lunch in an old quarry that provided some shelter from the wind.

Sitting down for lunch, we started to feel the cold, so we were eager to get going again to warm back up. We took a slight shortcut on the way to Castleton so we could walk through Winnats Pass.

Once we were through the pass, we were below the snow line again. The last few miles to the car was easy going on flat ground, walking on the pavement through Castleton and on to Hope.

On our way back to London we stopped at a Weatherspoons in St Albans for some pub food. The pub was inside two very old barns, and is probably one of the most impressive pubs I’ve been to.

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