Mam Tor: The Mother Hill

Also known as the Shivering Mountain, Mam Tor or the Mother Hill, is so named because of the many landslips that have occurred over the years, which have spawned a number of mini, child-hills.

I arrived on location at around 03:30 on a misty June morning. This was my first time here so I allowed some extra time to find my way around. The car park was easy enough to find and was almost empty apart from a few camper vans with their sleeping inhabitants.

I parked as far into the car park as I could go, close to a wood. From there I followed a short path (sixty metres) through the wood which led me onto a road which marks the northern perimeter of the car park. About one-hundred metres along the road on the right, is the entrance to the path which leads to the summit of the tor.

This is a very, very steep path. From the start, until you reach the summit (four-hundred metres on) – it is unrelenting. I was carrying fifteen kilos in my back-pack, next time I’ll limit that to five kilos. On the plus side, the path is stepped and well paved where it should be.

Eventually I reached the small monument that marks the summit. Alongside the monument, I discovered a mummy-style sleeping bag, which appeared to be occupied by somebody with blonde hair. Lying on the ground next to the mummy was a bicycle. I moved on.

For the next 100 metres, the path undulates until finally the view of the ridge and the valley is revealed. There was a lot of mist and cloud lying the valley, suddenly a gust of wind pushed the mist upwards over the hill and for a couple of minutes – I was engulfed. As the mist cleared around me, I captured these views. The time was 05:03.

Further along the ridge, there is the well-known gate that features so often in the photographs of this place. Because I had decided to focus on the path, the mist and distant mountain, I didn’t reach the gate – if I had, I would have used it as foreground with the 16-35mm lens. As it was, I could not see anything else that would serve this purpose, so in terms of focal length – I found myself operating in the 30mm to 70mm range with the Canon 24-70mm f/4 IS lens. And so, at 05:47, with the summer sun above the horizon I captured these views from the same position.

And then it was time to go. I made my way back up towards the summit. As I approached I could see the risen blonde-haired occupant of the mummy-bag, now standing tall, shielding his eyes from the ever-rising sun. As I got close to him, he said, in a broad mancunian accent: “Fuckin Hell Lad, in’t that fuckin marvellous?”. “Yes”, I replied – “it is”. Three hours and one-hundred-sixty-eight miles later, I was back home in North London.



Near Castleton, High Peak, Derbyshire

Car Park

Mam Nick, S33 8WA

How to get there?

From the town of Castleton, follow the Winnats Road. Take the right turn after Winnats Head Farm – 2.24 kilometres from Castleton. Continue for 380 metres where the road bears sharply to the left. The car park entrance is on the right, 486 metres after the bend. For those who live in and around London, The Peak District is the most accessible and rewarding landscape photography location.

When to go?

As this is the top of a mountain, it is an all-year-round location, sunrise and sunset, all seasons – all weathers. Perfect alternative destination for a Christmas morning.

What to wear?

There’s no water to worry about, so you can pack you best walking boots.

What to bring?

I could find little use for the 16-35mm, 24-70mm does the trick.

What to photograph?

The path along the ridge, the gate, the hilltops and if you’re lucky – lots of low-lying mist and cloud.

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