Things To Do
Castleton is located in the centre of the Peak District and is part of the limestone plateau known as the White Peak. The village itself is roughly 1000 years old, having been mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086; some ancient buildings are still dotted around the village itself, including the Church of St Edmund, which was built in the 13th century, and the nearby ruins of Peveril Castle, which dates back to the 11th Century. The village is encircled by some of the most impressive hills of the Peak District, including the famous Mam Tor, which can be seen from pretty much every corner of the village.
During the 17th Century, Castleton was a bustling lead mining village, an era that left behind a significant number of caves and caverns, that are utilised today for tourism. Castleton boasts a significant number of caving experiences in its vicinity, including the Treak Cliff Cavern, Speedwell Cavern, Peak Cavern, and Blue John Cavern. Castleton is famous for being the only place in the world where the precious mineral, Blue John, can be found.
Peveril Castle – The remains of Peveril Castle are located near Castleton Village, Derbyshire, and offers unbeatable views of the Hope Valley. Cared for by English Heritage, the ruins dates to the 11th Century, having been mentioned as a Norman fortress in the Domesday Survey of 1086. The ruins are fun to explore, although a lot of it is closed off, for the time being, due to maintenance. One thing that tends to pique the interest of all ages is that there is a garderobe (medieval toilet!) still intact within the castle grounds.
There’s a small visitor centre containing a shop and few display boards, explaining the history of the castle.
Mam Tor – With one of the best panoramic views in England, climbing up Mam Tor hill is one of the best ways to take in the sights of the Peak District. Located near Castleton, in an area known as the High Peak, Mam Tor is a moderately easy climb, and a circular walk up and back down again will take roughly 2 hours, covering just under 5 kilometres. Standing at 517m above sea level, the ascendance is sure to be over in no time at all, with plenty of interesting sites to see on the way up, with the entrances to 4 dark caves visible around the base of the hill; Blue John Cavern, Speedwell Cavern, Peak Cavern and Treak Cliff Cavern. Higher up, the remains of of both bronze and iron age forts are still visibly circling the top half of the hill. Once at the summit, you will be humbled by the views of Peveril Castle and the Hope Valley, amongst other popular Peak District sites.
Mam Tor has garnered the nickname ‘Mother Hill’ given its crumbling hillside, which has resulted in the formation of several miniature hills around its peak. This has posed a problem for the construction of roads around the hill, however, it does not pose a threat to hikers, as the hill is well kept after!
It’s a brilliant walk for hikers, both well-experienced and inexperienced, and recommended for dog walkers- as long as the dog is kept on a lead.
The Treak Cliff Cavern – Located in Castleton, Derbyshire, the Treak Cliff Cavern is famous for being one of the last places where the mineral, Blue John, is still mined for today. Open to all ages, the Cavern has been used for mining for over 300 years, so a tour rich in history is to be expected. The multi-coloured flowstone that makes up the cavern’s walls makes for a stunning visual experience.
Speedwell Cavern – Certainly the most distinctive caving experience in the Peak District, Speedwell Cavern can only be explored by boat! The unusual voyage leads visitors along a fascinating underground canal, while a tour guide explains the beautiful, and highly intricate, lead mines as you drift gently by them. The entrance to Speedwell Cavern is located at the bottom of Castleton’s Winnats Pass, from there you descend deeper, walking down 105 steps before you reach the dock of the canal. On the boat, you descend 200 metres below the base of the hill, reaching a gargantuan cavern at the bottom – a cavern so big it can only be compared to a cathedral!
Peak Cavern – Unlike Castleton’s other cavern and cave offerings, Peak Cavern is almost entirely natural, besides one narrow area that was blasted to make it easier to access. Sometimes, rather comically, referred to as ‘the Devil’s Arse’, and the size of its entrance and interior is a sight to behold – it features the biggest cave entrance in the whole of Britain, and also has the biggest cave system in the Peak District. Visitors can explore the former rope-making villages which used to occupy the cavern – located in a gorge located below Pervil Castle. Today, concerts are regularly held in Peak’s vast chambers, and it has also become a popular filming location, most notably for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair.
Blue John Cavern – Blue John Cavern is the 4th famed cave that puts Castleton on the map and is where the world-famous Blue John Stone is mined for; eight unique variations of the stone are still mined at this location to this day. Brief tours occur throughout the day and teach visitors both how Blue John was mined for in the past and the present. On display in the tour is a selection of mining equipment, and the Blue John stone in its natural state.