Summer star gazing walk at Mam Tor
Mam Tor, Hope Valley, DerbyshireRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
On a clear night you can see some 4,000 stars sparkling in our universe. Perfect for families and anyone unfamiliar with astronomy, this guide will introduce you to star gazing at Mam Tor, which stands proudly in Hope Valley. Providing far reaching views, wide open skies and little light pollution, the area is a perfect spot for star gazing. Print off a copy of our Star Guide
- Bus stop
Start: Mam Nick car park, grid ref: SK123832
Leave the car park at the top left hand corner and follow the surfaced path up to the edge of the road at Mam Nick.
Look up to see the Summer Triangle. It is made up of three bright stars positioned in a triangle shape, directly overhead. The stars are called Deneb, Vega and Altair, and also form part of other constellations. Winnats Pass, a dramatic limestone gorge, lies to the south east of Mam Tor and is a classic example of karst scenery, with exposed crags, cave entrances and nearby, a rich history of mining from Roman times up to the present. The area is the source of the unique Blue John mineral, which is mined and crafted locally.
Go through the gate on the right and follow the surfaced path through the ancient ramparts of the hill fort to the summit trig point (15 mins).
Also known as the Pole Star or Polaris, the North Star is a very bright star and is always fixed above the north point of the horizon. It has been used for over 2,000 years to help navigators at sea and on land find their way. You may see the distinctive looking barn owl hunting for voles and mice on your starry walk; youre most likely to spot them at dusk. These large birds are found all over England and while their numbers have declined rapidly over the last few decades, fortunately they are now rising again.
You are now in the centre of the Iron Age monument. The wide open skies here provide a wonderful spot for star gazing. Why not lay a blanket on the ground and take it all in. Return via the same route.
Try and spot the Milky Way, a ribbon of millions of stars, threading its way across the night sky. The light you see from a twinkling star has travelled across the universe for millions of years to reach you; so when looking at a star, you are actually looking back in time. In the daytime the summit of Mam Tor is one of the most dramatic viewpoints in the Peak District. The 360 degree view includes much of the High Peak Estate, Kinder Scout to the north west, Bleaklow, Howden and Derwent Moors to the north and east, with the Edale Valley immediately below. To the south you look towards the limestone dales of the Southern Peak District, Winnats Pass, Castleton and the Hope Valley.
End: Mam Nick car park, grid ref: SK123832
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 1 mile (1.5km)
- Time: 30 minutes
- OS Map: Explorer OL1; Landranger 110
Keep to the surfaced path as there are dangerous steep drops on the edges of the hill. Strenuous ascent with steps and rough surfaces, good footwear and torches essential. The summit can be very cold so wrap up warm. Not suitable at night for young children or those with reduced mobility. Sheep may be grazing. Please be aware of trip hazards in the dark. Choose a clear night, and take binoculars and a torch to follow in Galileo Galileis footsteps.
- How to get here:
By foot: From Castleton follow the road north-west up Winnats Pass and on paths across Winnats Head Farm until you reach point 1 on the map
By bike: Pennine Bridleway is 2 miles (3.2km) west on the road to Chapel-en-le-Frith
By bus: Service 200, Chapel-en-le-Frith to Castleton, via Winnats Pass, alight Mam Tor. Service 272, Sheffield to Castleton, then walk from village or pick up 200 bus
By train: Hope and Edale stations nearby
By car: From Castleton, up Winnats Pass signed Buxton and Chapel, turn right at the top then follow the road round a very sharp left hand bend. Mam Nick car park is on the right. From the west approach from Chapel-en-le-Frith (car park on left after long straight run along Rushup Edge) or Buxton (keep left when you reach the road up from Castleton, then directions as above)
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