17 April 2024

Days Trips From Manchester - Mam Tor, Peak District

Wednesday, April 17, 2024 0 Comments
If you see a map of Poland, we have the sea in the north and a few mountain ranges in the south of the country - our southern border is actually naturally formed by the Carpathia Mountains.

I'm from the South, from a rather hilly area - my hometown was built on seven hills. Most places close enough for a day trip are in the mountains - Tatra Mountains, Pieniny, Beskidy, Bieszczady, you can take your pick. Naturally, this was the sort of trip we'd take when I was younger. Family trips, school trips, and some outings we went to through Dad's work, usually involved hiking. 

After I moved to the UK, hiking definitely fell off my list for a while. I spent a weekend in Zakopane during the summer visit back home once, and then a few years later I took my now husband there on his first visit to Poland. Then along came baby number one, then the second one - we did visit the mountains when in Poland, but we were only ever able to have a walk through the valleys and any actual hiking was out of the question. I decided, however, that once I was confident that they can handle it, we'd be visiting the mountains again on our holidays.

Fast forward to now, we live in Manchester. So close to the Peak District, that on a drive towards Stockport or Ashton, we can actually see the hills - and I'm telling you, when we get to fly to Poland, the landing on the way back, low over the hills, is truly special.

It was actually back in 2020 when we first decided it was a good idea to start trying some easy hiking routes - Eid was coming up, we couldn't meet up with anyone due to lockdown restrictions, and not wanting to just spend the day at home, we spent some time researching child-friendly hiking routes in Peak District. And that's how we ended up first going up the Mam Tor.

Mam Tor, which translates to "Mother Hill", is a 517m (1,696ft) peak overlooking Castleton in Derbyshire. Located just under 30 miles from Manchester, it's a great place for a day out and a perfect spot for beginner hikers. It's a relatively easy climb, particularly if you begin the approach at the Mam Nick car park - the path is paved all the way to the summit, with steps on the steeper parts of the hill. This makes it easy even for the youngest hikers - our daughter was just under 3 years old on our first visit there, and was able to walk most of the way on her own. 

[Photo from our first 2020 hike with the toddler]

You can enjoy climbing Mam Tor as a part of a circular walk, with a few routes that can stretch for up to 8 miles. However, if you're a beginner who wants to start small, or walking with smaller children, you can easily keep it short and just climb up, have a picnic on the top, and get back down. 

In this case, start at Mam Nick car park. From there it's only about 550 metres (approx. 0.3 miles) to the trig point. At the back of the car park, you'll find the footpath, which will be the first part of your walk to the summit.

For the most part, the footpath runs parallel to a road - once you reach the end of the path, you'll meet the bend in said road. This is the point where some other paths meet, and you'll need to enter through the wooden gate for the actual approach to the summit. From there you just need to follow the steps and then a bit of straight paved path to reach the top.

It's not an overly challenging walk, you'll see plenty of children and walkers of varying abilities along the way. Once you reach the top, you'll find the trig point (might wait a while for a photo opportunity on a busy day), and there are some breathtaking views. And you're likely to meet a few sheep on the way too!

Things worth noting:

  • If you plan on starting from the Mam Nick car park, arrive early. This National Trust-operated car park only has about 80 spaces, and fills up quickly on weekends and during school holidays. National Trust members park for free, but non-members will be charged £4.50 for up to 4 hours, and £6 for more than 4 hours (prices correct at the time of writing), and you can only pay by phone. If, when you get there, the car park is full, there are some spaces available along the main road, with entry gates onto paths that will get you to the summit. Be mindful of how you park though, it's easy to get caught out by double yellow lines (we narrowly avoided that after noticing that the whole line of cars on a part of the road had the fines stuck on!).
  • There are no facilities. You'll find a coffee van and a few picnic benches at the Mam Nick car park, but no toilets - the nearest public toilets are in Castleton, a short drive away.