Peak Cavern (the Devil's Arse) Castleton, Hope Valley, Derbyshire
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.
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|The Castleton Caverns comprise The Blue John Cavern, Treak Cliff Cavern, Speedwell Cavern (all clustered around the Winnats pass) and the great Peak Cavern, just outside Castleton village.|
Peak Cavern is the only wholly natural cavern of the four and is the least commercialised. It is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster but now managed by the owners of Speedwell Cavern. It was known to locals as the Devil's Arse and the stream issuing from it as the Styx, which give some idea of the mixed feelings the local people had about this natural wonder.
The approach and entry are very impressive, taking you into an immense cleft in the rock below the crag on top of which sits Peveril Castle and into a wide and spacious cave entrance which was used by ropemakers until the middle years of the 20th century and once accommodated several small ropemakers' cottages, which were demolished in the early 20th century.
Beyond the entrance a narrow passage leads to a chamber called the Bell-House. Continuing on along the path (at one time visitors were taken by punt along this part) you reach a chamber called the Great Cave which is about 60m high and contains a passage in its roof which emerges near Peveril Castle.
At the far end of this chamber a passage leads through to Orchestral Chamber, where village maidens used to sing to distinguished visitors, such as Queen Victoria. Further on is Pluto's Dining Room and the Devil's Staircase and an area called the Five Arches, which is as far as the standard tour goes.
For potholers it is possible to go much further into the cave system, which extends for miles, and at selected times in winter the cavern is open to them.
Further reading: Underground Britain by Bruce Bedford, Collins/Willow; Caves of Derbyshire by Trevor D Ford and David D Gill, Dalesman Books.
Peak Cavern Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
How to get there
from the A6 Manchester-Buxton road at Chapel-en-le-Frith branch off on the minor road (formerly A625) to Mam Tor, and from there take the steep narrow road down Winnats Pass to reach Castleton. Peak Cavern is on the right as you reach the village. From the A6 at Bakewell take the A622 to Calver and Grindleford, then fork left to follow the River Derwent to Hathersage, where you turn left again and follow the A6187 to Castleton. Peak Cavern is through the other side of the village. From Shefffield, take the A625 to Fox House, continue to Hathersage and then pick up the A6187 as above.
By Bus: the 200 bus from Chapel-en-le-Frith goes to Castleton via the Winnats Pass. From Sheffield take the 272 bus to Castleton. From Bakewell, take the 173 bus to Tideswell or Litton and there pick up the 174 Baslow-Castleton bus.
By Train: trains from Manchester to Sheffield stop at Hope Station, about 4km from the cavern. Either walk from there or pick up one of the buses mentioned.
When is it open?
April to October - every day, 10.00am to 5.00pm, November to March - weekends only 10.00am to 5.00pm. Last Tour is 45 mins before closing.
What does it cost?
Adult £8.75/ Child (5-15 years)£6.75/ Concessions £7.75/ Family (2 adults + 2 children) £27.50/ Additional Child £5.50. Combined tickets for Peak Cavern and Speedwell Cavern are available.
Party Rates: Primary School £3.60 per pupil/ Secondary School £4.25 per pupil/ Sixth Form £5.00 per pupil/ Teachers £6.50 (one free per 10 pupils)/ Adults £6.00. Minimum price for evening visits £250.
Joint tickets for Peak and Speedwell Caverns are available at a saving.
Prices and opening times are shown as a guideline only and may vary. See this link for more information on prices and opening
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