It’s 5:45 AM, and I’m heading up Mam Tor by the light of a head torch. My rucksack is heavy (courtesy of the usual amount of gear carried by a landscape photographer) but it’s no burden as I head up the hill, because the path is firm underfoot and easy to follow. I can see many more stars than I expected, so there’s not much cloud about, and there is a faint but brightening glow in the sky to the east. The top of the tor is paved, with a stone built trig point that shone in my torchlight, and the lights of Castleton, Hope, and Bamford are visible in the valley below. There’s nothing better then heading up a hill by the light of a torch, to watch the dawn unfold and the day begin from the top of a hill. Camera at the ready, of course.
Mam Tor is popular with photographers, and rightly so – you are spoiled for choice with fine views in every direction just demanding to be photographed. For the golden hours, it is a very busy hill. If you’re in the Peak District, and you want to meet other photographers, you could do worse than head up to Mam Tor before dawn. I reached the trig point and had just set up my tripod when the first of many photographers appeared, head torch bobbing up the path. I expected company at such a fantastic spot, but I was surprised by how many. When, half an hour later, I looked back up to Mam Tor from the path to the Great Ridge, the top was bristling with tripods.
The Great Ridge leads north east from Mam Tor to Lose Hill. I had read about the fence on the path to the ridge and it was clear there was a great opportunity if the light was right – one of the reasons for the very early visit.