Peak District Photography Guide Part 3 - Mam Tor, Castleton and the Great Ridge of Edale

06th April 2013
The third part of my Peak District landscape photography location guide takes us to the well visited area around Castleton, including the ever popular locations of the Great Ridge of Edale which includes Mam Tor, Hollins Cross, Back Tor and Lose Hill. The Great Ridge is a huge ridge which separates the vales of Edale and Castleton and runs for approximately 2 miles. A very popular path runs along the whole length of the ridge and is mostly paved to prevent erosion from all of the walkers. I have created a map to pinpoint some of the areas and viewpoint which feature in this blog post:

View Castleton & Hope Valley Photography Locations in a larger map

There are two places to park the car at the top of Mam Tor, I usually leave the car in the National Trust Car Park and walk the extra distance, if you are heading up for sunrise you may be able to park in a small layby just below the path to the summit. The walk up to the summit of Mam Tor can be lung bursting depending on your fitness levels, as you arrive near the top the views down to Castleton will begin to show over the ridge and allow you to begin the task of choosing your first composition. Sunrise on the top of Mam Tor can get busy with photographers but being that little bit further away from the major cities it tends to not be as busy as Curbar or Higger Tor.

Early morning hill runners on Mam Tor

The classic shot from here is normally taken just below the summit of Mam Tor heading down the ridge path to the first gate and fence, from here there are great views down into the valley as well as lovely lead in lines with the path, fence and the peaks of Back Tor and Loose Hill beyond.

The Great Ridge - Settings: 1/8 sec @ ƒ/16 ISO100 70 mm

The Hope Valley is often shroud in mist early in the morning and there are frequent cloud inversions here which really are an amazing sight from the viewpoint up on Mam Tor. At 517m above sea level the summit of Mam Tor is often above the cloudline giving you clear views from the above the clouds.

Hope Valley from the Ridge Path below Mam Tor Summit - Settings: 5 sec @ ƒ/13 ISO200 10 mm

On most of my visits to Castleton and Mam Tor for sunrise I have always driven through cloud on the way which can be quite off putting as you always feel like the weather will be no good for a good sunrise shoot, however on all but one occasion as you drive up Winnats pass to a higher altitude the cloud clears and you can finally see the sunrise conditions.

The Great Ridge at Sunrise

Hope Valley from Mam Tor - Settings: 1/50 sec @ ƒ/16 ISO200 70 mm

Long telephoto landscapes are often the best bet from the summit and down on the ridge, the high viewpoint of Mam Tor looking down either the Edale valley or Hope Valley towards Castleton enables you to really isolate features in the landscape and combined with the frequent pre-dawn mists and cloud inversions can lead to stunning images.

Hope Valley Cement Works - Settings: 1/25 sec @ ƒ/16 ISO200 240 mm

Peveril Castle – Castleton - Settings: 0.8 sec @ ƒ/13 ISO200 240 mm

If you have a time for a good walk around the area you can walk a great loop from Mam Tor and along the ridge before dropping down to Castleton for lunch and a trip to the visitors centre. On your way back up to the car park you can take the opportunity to walk up the old disused road which suffered so badly from landslides it needed to be closed.

Collapsed Road and Castleton from Mam Tor

Once you get back below the summit of Mam Tor the views down to Winnats Pass will begin to open up. Winnats Pass in an amazing limestone features which is believed to be a collapsed cave.

Winnats Pass from Mam Tor

You may also take the chance to visit one of the famous caves around Castleton which are very popular visitor attractions. The major caves are Blue John Cavern, Peak Cavern, Speedwell Cavern and Treak Cliff Cavern and all offer tours and guides.

Peak Cavern – Castleton

After parking on Mam Tor you can take the option to head in the other direction and tackle Rushup Edge, there is a popular bent over tree around half way up the path which appears in a lot of photographs, quite small in reality but with a wide lens can appear to fill the frame quite nicely. Further up the path are great views back to Mam Tor and also an entirely different landscape looking the other way. At the end of the path you will come to a t-junction where you meet the path known which forms a controversial closed greenway at Chapel Gate.

Rushup Edge

For more images from the Peak District National Park click here >

About Nick
Nick Cockman is a digital photographer from Sheffield specialising in UK Landscape and Seascape photography.

Follow me on Twitter →
Follow me on Facebook →


Photo comment By David Swain: Fabulous photos. Used to live in Chesterfield but never visited the park These photos will get me there, not so spritely now, but thanks to you excited.

Leave a comment

Your Name
Your Email
Your Comment
No info required here, please press the button below.