Castleton is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to the Peak District. Maybe this is because it has everything the visitor might want - picturesque scenery, a ruined Norman castle, showcaves, interesting geology, good walks, places to eat and a pretty village. However, this also means that you must be prepared to share the village with the crowds, even on winter weekends.
Castleton, with Mam Tor dominating the skyline behind
The village is centred around a square in which the church lies - this is just off the main road and directly beneath Peveril Castle on the hill behind. The castle was built in 1080 as a wooden building and rebuilt in stone around 1175. The church was begun about the same time and has a fine Norman arch across the Nave, which was constructed from 1190 to 1250. The tower was added in 1450-1500 and more additions were made in the 19th century. Other signs of the Norman era still remain - across the main road by the Bull's Head Inn you can see a section of the Town Ditch, a defensive earthwork built around the village. This was once a feature of many of the villages of the region.
Peveril castle from Cavedale
The two main features of interest, apart from the castle, are Cave Dale and Peak Cavern. Both are reached from the top of the main square - Cave Dale to the left (east) and Peak Cavern to the right (west). Cave Dale is a collapsed cavern and the very bottom part was covered by a natural arch until 200 years ago. It is a spectacular walk up the dale, which is very deep and narrow, with mineral veins crossing it at intervals. As you climb up the Dale, directly above the subterranean chambers of Peak Cavern, you get a good view of Peveril Castle.
Until very recently, Peak Cavern was the most impressive natural cavern in the Peak District. It is open as a showcave from April to October but is worth walking up to even if the cave attraction itself is shut. Take a narrow lane from the top corner of the village square (past the chip shop) to reach Peakshole Water, the stream which flows from the cavern. Take the path up the right hand bank of the stream into the deep chasm which is the entrance to the cavern. You'll notice on the other side a small stream flowing into Peakshole Water. This is the water from Russett Well, water that has come underground from caverns on the west side of Winnats pass - tracing the source of the water took the local geologists a long time! Now approach the impressive entrance to the cavern, which was once used by a family of ropemakers who built their cottages actually within the cave entrance.
Peak Cavern entrance
The recently discovered Titan cavern under nearby Hurd Low dwarfs Peak Cavern and means that in the future Peak Cavern will have more competition for visitors but Titan remains inaccessible to the public for the foreseeable future.
Around the village square there are some fine old houses and cottages, including a Youth Hostel and some pubs. On the main road there are several shops selling Blue John (a local variety of Fluorspar with a fine colouring), jewellery made from this or souvenirs. One shop here houses the Ollerenshaw Collection, which contains a range of fine specimens of Blue John jewellery and artefacts.
Towards Mam Tor there is a public car park with public toilets and the Peak National Park Information Centre (telephone 01433 620679).
Castleton has a carnival at the end of May, the main event of which is called Garland Day on May 29th, when large garlands of flowers are made and the participants wear sprigs of oak. The Garland King and Queen are weighed down with immense garlands and a parade takes place through the village to the main square, when the King's garland is placed on top of the church tower. The ceremony is said to commemorate the Restoration of Charles II (hence the oak sprigs), but may well be a relic of some ancient fertility rite.
Castleton Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
0 - Castleton - Peak Cavern entrance with Peveril castle above
1 - Castleton Garland King
2 - Castleton Garland Day
3 - Castleton - the entrance to Peak Cavern
4 - Castleton - looking down from above Peak Cavern entrance
5 - Peveril Castle keep
6 - Peveril Castle from Cave Dale
7 - Peveril Castle view to Mam Tor
8 - Castleton - looking up Cave Dale
9 - Castleton - Cave Dale
10 - Winnats Pass
11 - Winnats Pass view
12 - Mine workings outside the Odin Mine Castleton
13 - Castleton view with Mam Tor behind
14 - Hang glider waiting to take off above Winnats Pass
15 - Paragliders above Hope Valley
16 - Cement Works, Hope Valley
17 - Hope Churchyard - Saxon cross
18 - Mam Tor view to Lose Hill
19 - Hope Church
20 - Mam Tor summit looking down to Lose Hill
21 - Mam Tor view in temperature inversion
22 - Mam Tor summit with Kinder Scout behind
23 - Mam Tor Iron Age ramparts and the view across Edale
24 - Hollins Cross and Lose Hill frombelow Mam Tor
25 - Hangglider taking off from Mam Tor
26 - Hangglider near Mam Tor
27 - Hangglider near Mam Tor
28 - Winnats Pass from Mam Tor
29 - Bradwell welldressing
30 - Bradwell village
31 - Bradwell - White Hart Inn
Useful local links:Let's Stay Peak District's guide to Castleton The Let's Stay Peak District web site is one of the most comprehensive and most successful sites devoted to the Peak District.
Visit Castleton web site Castleton Holiday Accommodation and Tourism Guide, organised by Castleton Chamber of Commerce
Local places of interest
Bagshaw Cavern, a cave system in Bradwell, Hope Valley, Derbyshire. A largely natural cave system discovered by lead miners in 1806. Open to the public on summer weekends as a show cave and for Adventure Caving.
Blue John Mine
Blue John Mine, Mam Tor, Castleton, Hope Valley, Derbyshire is a popular cavern which was once mined for lead and Blue John.
The Derwent Dams provide water for Sheffield, Derby, Nottingham and Leicester and are situated near the Hope Valley, in the Derbyshire Peak District.
Eldon Hole is one of the seven wonders of the Peak. It is the deepest local pothole; an alarming, evil-looking chasm in the side of Eldon Hill to the north of the village of Peak Forest, Derbyshire.
Mam Tor is an Iron Age fort overlooking Castleton and Hope Valley, Derbyshire. It has the remains of impressive Iron Age ramparts and a splendid view.
Peak Cavern (the Devil's Arse) Castleton, Hope Valley, Derbyshire, is the largest and most famous cavern at Castleton and the only totally natural one.
Peveril Castle, Castleton, Hope Valley, in the Derbyshire Peak District. A Norman and medieval castle founded in 1080 by William Peveril - an illegitimate son of William I - in what was then the Royal Forest of the Peak.
Speedwell Cavern at Castleton, Hope Valley, Derbyshire is the most popular cavern in the Castleton area and boasts several large chambers and an underwater canal.
Treak Cliff Cavern
Treak Cliff Cavern, Mam Tor, Castleton, Hope Valley, Derbyshire is a popular cavern famous for its Blue John.
Winnats Pass, Castleton, Derbyshire, is a long collapsed limestone cave system which now forms a steep sided and craggy valley.