Mam Tor Landslide: The Abandoned A625 Road

Abandoned Mam Tor road (A625), closed after the 1979 landslide. (Image: Rob Bendall. Abandoned Mam Tor road (A625), closed after 1979 landslide)

Known as the Mother Hill or Shivering Mountain, Mam Tor in Derbyshire‘s High Peak has been plagued by landslides for centuries, so it may not come as a surprise to learn that a road constructed alongside its troublesome eastern edge now lies abandoned. The ruined stretch was part of the early 19th century turnpike road (A625) from Sheffield, in South Yorkshire, to Chapel-en-le-Frith, which was eventually abandoned in 1979 after numerous landslips.

Mam Tor: the Mother Hill, or Shivering Mountain. (Image: Rob Bendall. Mam Tor: the Mother Hill, or Shivering Mountain)

The A625 was built in 1819 by the Sheffield & Chapel-en-le-Frith Turnpike Company. It ran from the old Steel City’s Moore Street roundabout, at the top of St Mary’s Gate, along Ecclesall Road to Dore and on to Hathersage, the Peak District village reputed to be the final resting place of Robin Hood’s loyal friend and lieutenant Little John. From Hathersage, the road headed west through Castleton to the old Norman town of Chapel-en-le-Frith, where the A625 meets the A6.

(Image: Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net), cc-sa-4.0)

The turnpike road followed the route of an ancient packhorse trail, which wound through the dramatic limestone gorge known as the Winnats Pass, west of Castleton. Travelling between towering limestone escarpments makes for a dramatic drive through the heart of the High Peak, but the steep gradient and narrow cleft through which the packhorse trail passed caused Georgian era road builders to reconsider the route.

(Image: Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net), cc-sa-4.0)

The “New Road” – as it was known to locals in Castleton and the many isolated farms on the barren limestone plateau – turned north immediately west of the village, winding its way up the southern side of Mam Tor. It then veered back across the active landslide on the eastern edge of the hill and rejoined the A625 at Windy Knoll. From there, it continued its relatively straight course to Chapel-en-le-Frith. The 19th century road used spoil from the now-disused Odin Mine, which is thought to be among the oldest lead mines in England and the oldest documented mine in Derbyshire.

(Image: Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net), cc-sa-4.0)

But it wasn’t long before the apty named Shivering Mountain waged a relentless battle of man versus nature against the ill-fated Sheffield & Chapel-en-le-Frith Turnpike. The Mam Tor road quickly found itself at the mercy of landslides due to layers unstable sub-surface shale, which were greatly exacerbated by the High Peak rainfall. Thus the short stretch of A625 required ongoing repair over the 160 years that followed its construction.

Broken ruins of the A625 road on Mam Tor in the High Peak, west of Castleton. (Image: Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net), cc-sa-4.0)

As the decades passed, a series of intense landslips led to major repairs carried out in 1912, 1933, 1946, 1952 and 1966. Less than a decade later, a massive landslide caused a part of the east side of the Shivering Mountain to collapse, and by 1979 the troubled Mam Tor road had been closed permanently. It seems the builders of that ancient packhorse route had the right idea as west-bound traffic once again returned to the Winnats Pass.

Abandoned road on Mam Tor, Derbyshire. (Image: Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net), cc-sa-4.0)

Almost 40 years after it closed, the broken ruins of the abandoned Mam Tor road are clearly visible on the east side of the “Mother Hill”. The slipped surface reveals multiple layers of tarmac and gravel laid in a bid to counter subsistence over the years. But in the end, the battle was lost, leaving behind a man-made relic laid waste by the Shivering Mountain.

(Image: Mike Peel (www.mikepeel.net), cc-sa-4.0)

Related: 10 Haunting Abandoned Bridges and Viaducts

 
 


 
 
 

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