A lofty mountain, not the highest in Derbyshire (a title which belongs to Kinder Scout, just north of here) but prominent, dominating. Mam Tor stands above the pretty village of Castleton, at the head of the Hope Valley on a great ridge separating the Hope valley from Edale.
This fell is where the limestone of the White Peak changes to the hard rocks of the Dark Peak. It and its neighbours have yielded wealth: bluejohn stone from two shafts here and lead from beneath Mam Tor itself.
No one is sure why this mountain is called ‘Mam Tor’ but it is from the ancient Welsh language once spoken across the peak. It may be from the hill’s pleasing shape from some viewpoints, or the double-tumescent appearance as the summit is approached, because of the earthworks on it. This is another remarkable aspect: the fell-top once had a village, a fortified village within a hill fort, as if the precipitous slopes of Mam Tor were not defence enough. It is a reminder that quiet times are a precious luxury when so many ages have been endless “Warre of every one against every one”.
The name ‘Mam’ though has another, plainer meaning; which is ‘Mother’. At the foot of its slopes are clutches of hillocks formed of the mother mountain as on occasion it shivers and send its rocks rolling down to make new baby hills, and yet Mam Tor does not get the less: it was asserted by some that it continually renews itself after giving birth to new hills.
Today, Mam Tor is a popular walk for the many who visit Castleton for its own charm and other sights it has, one of which is the final Wonder of the Peak, of which more tomorrow.