The Great Ridge

Across the Vale of Edale from Kinder runs the Great Ridge, a wonderful rollercoaster of shale grit hills stretching from Lord’s Seat in the west to Lose Hill in the east. It is a fabulous and very popular day walk and its accessibility and compositional strength means that it is also a very popular subject with photographers keen to capture its beauty, particularly in the dawn light.

How to get here

The car park for Mam Tor and the Great Ridge is on the Sheffeld Road below Mam Nick 2 miles from Castleton. From Castleton drive west up Winnats Pass. At the top of the pass turn right at the T-junction and follow the road round, passing the rst turning on the right. The National Trust car park is on your right.

Alternatively continue passed the car park and take the next right to Mam Nick where there is a small lay-by for several cars on the Edale side of the ridge – useful if you don’t want to walk up the steep steps to Mam Tor summit or if you are in a rush at sunrise.

Parking

Parking Lat/Long: 53.345484, -1.815892
Parking Grid Ref: SK 123 831
Parking Postcode: S33 8WA
Map: OS Explorer Map OL1 (1:25 000) The Peak District: Dark Peak Area

What to shoot and viewpoints

All viewpoints are accessed from Mam Nick. If parked in the National Trust car park follow the steps at the back of the car park up to the road to Mam Nick where on your right is the path to Mam Tor summit (322m). Just over the Nick by the lay-bay on the right is the bridleway to the Gate (0.5km) and on your left before the Nick is the path up Rushup Edge to Lord’s Seat (1.2km).

VP 1 – The Serpentine Curve (SK 126 836)

A classic composition is of the serpentine curve of the road snaking down into Edale from Mam Nick. This can be taken in several places. One is just off the main agged path on the way to Mam Tor summit. It is such a strong composition that it works in varied light conditions and all seasons.

Viewpoint 2 – Mam Tor Summit (SK 127 836)

The Mam Tor summit cobbles, path and trig point make great subjects. There are several viewpoints toward where the slope steepens (beware the cliff and gully) looking down into the Hope Valley and at the Hope Cement Works and its chimney. To the south looking toward Winnats and Old Moor with its rolling hills and trees in the right conditions using a telephoto can work well. Below the summit is Mam Tor Gully with a path to the right of this steep broken cliff that offers a whole new perspective if you descend it.

Viewpoint 3 – The Gate (SK 131 843)

The Gate is down the flagged path from Mam Tor summit where the ridge levels out before Hollin’s Cross. The quickest way to The Gate is by following the bridleway that starts from the lay-by down from Mam Nick on the Edale side. This path contours around Mam Tor, misses out the summit and emerges 200m before The Gate. Get here well before sunrise, at weekends you will have company. This is a classic viewpoint with its foreground, leading line, diagonal converging lines, the regression of the hills, strong compositional figures and narrative from ridge to summit to valley. Best photographed before and at sunrise from September through to spring when there is often a thin mist in the valley and a touch of cloud in the sky.

Viewpoint 4: The Ridge toward Lose Hill

There are many great photographs to be had along this ridge and it rewards revisits. There is a lone Caledonian pine that sits on top of Back Tor and a pretty hawthorn and birch copse below its summit on the northern side of the ridge.

From the ridge, Kinder Scout’s southern edge to the north presents a level horizon, with all of the details hidden below the skyline but a longer focal length allows the photographer to pick out individual details on both sides of the ridge.

If the ridge has a weak point then it is perhaps Lose Hill itself, which is a bit lacking in foreground interest but should still be included in a traverse of the ridge.

Viewpoint 5: Lord’s Seat and Rushup Edge (SK 113 834)

Lord’s Seat is 29m higher than Mam Tor and the ridge of Rushup Edge that leads up to it offers a superb perspective of diagonal slopes sweeping down to bulk of Mam Tor and the continuation of the ridge all the way to Lose Hill and beyond. It even has it’s own gate. Take the western path just below Mam Nick that gains the ridge and follow it upwards to discover multiple viewpoints.

Accessibility

Whilst there isn’t much elevation gain from Mam Nick to most points on the ridge and distances are relatively short – it’s 300m (with 36m of ascent) from Mam Nick to the summit of Mam Tor
– do come prepared. 60-100mph winds are not uncommon on the ridge at anytime of year and it can be extremely cold. Wrap up well and bring gloves and a hat. The paths are usually paved but can be slippy. If the winds are extreme and you get caught out on the ridge, bob off the ridge to shelter down the slope.

From the NT car park
To Mam Tor Summit: 20 mins, distance 0.7km, ascent 74m
To Mam Tor Gate: 20 minutes, distance 1km, ascent 50m
To Lord’s Seat: 30 minutes, distance 1.5km, ascent 123m

Best time of year/day

The ridge runs from west to east. Sunrise at most times of year is special here especially when there is valley mist or radiation fog in the Hope Valley. Mist is most frequent between September and April although valley mist can occur in summer after a hot humid day and a signi cant drop in temperature at night. The fog can vary in depth from just wisps in the valley to over 400m thick with Mam Tor’s summit (517m) just popping its head out – walk up to Lord’s Seat (546m) in such conditions. Frosty mornings and when covered in snow are also good times to visit. The valley mist or fog level often determines the best place to be, and there are viewpoints at various levels.

Bear in mind that in the evenings in late spring and early summer the sun dips below the summit of Mam Tor, putting the part of the ridge immediately to the east in shadow and attening the contrast along the along the ridge toward Lose Hill.

Conversely, in midsummer the sun sets behind the north west corner of Kinder Scout, meaning that the northern flank of the ridge is illuminated very well indeed, especially the dip at Hollins Cross.

Beware

Although Mam Tor summit and the ridge is close to the road it can experience fierce winds and blizzards that can easily knock you off your feet. Darren Ciolli-Leach, an experienced hillwalker, got caught in one of these extreme weather events in March 2015. He managed to get down safely but Darren’s video below – he’s holding onto the Mam Tor trig point – is worth a watch. If you do get caught up there and you are in doubt about your safety or are injured, Dial 999 or 112, ask for Police and then Mountain Rescue. Read this article How – And When – To Call Mountain Rescue if you are in doubt about when to call Mountain Rescue.

Mam Tor Mayhem from Darren Ciolli-Leach on Vimeo.