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Castleton - Things to do

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Castleton

Castleton is a beautiful village situated at the head of the Hope  Valley in the heart of the Peak District National Park. The village is popular for its show caves, history, shops, Christmas lights,  garland ceremony, Winnats Pass, Cave Dale and for those wishing to walk on the numerous footpaths in the area . Surrounded by hillsides and overlooked by Mam Tor (the shivering mountain) and the ancient Peveril Castle.

Castleton - a short history…

Castleton was founded after the building of Peveril Castle in 1086, the castle was built by William Peveril, son of William the Conqueror. There was possibly an Anglo Saxon settlement on the east side of the village near Hope as there is an embankment running through the village, and s shaped strip fields on the east side, known as furlongs. The village developed under the protection of the garrison and grew and prospered from this period. The population was made up of farmers, retailers, men at arms and others. The village was on the main packhorse routes and an important stopover in coaching days in later centuries. It was also an important lead mining and market village. The oldest part of the village is by the river, Peakshole Water near Cavern Walk. Along Back Street can be seen several folds where houses were built around 3 sides of the courtyard, which had a narrow opening onto the street, where animals were penned at night.

This picturesque village is now designated a conservation area and much of its history can be read in its layout and architecture.

Geology

Castleton is on the boundary of the northern gritstone ‘Dark Peak’, and the southern limestone ‘ White Peak’.

The ridge to the north marks the beginning of the gritstone / shale beds giving rise to the high gritstone moorland plateaux. The gritstone shale bands can be seen in the face of Mam Tor and the instability of the shale beds is illustrated in the massive landslip on the A 625 at Mam Tor.

The hills to the south of the village are ancient coral reefs made of carboniferous limestone and behind them is the massive limestone laid down in a warm coral sea. The cave and underground river systems contain spectacular formations. The joints and cracks have been mineralised and contain veins of lead, fluorspar, barytes and calcite.

In Treak Cliff hill, a very pretty form of fluorspar, only found in this area, can be seen in two show caves. It is known as Blue John and is mined to make jewellery, which is sold locally. The mineral crystals were impregnated naturally during the formation with hydro – carbons, possibly altered by latent radio-activity in the rocks, to give them an attractive blue and yellow banding.

Castleton Garland Day, 29th May

Oak Apple Day on the 29th May, was once celebrated throughout the country in commemoration of Charles II regaining the throne.  The Garland’ itself is a beehive shaped head-dress, covered with wild flowers and greenery, worn by the King over his head and shoulders. The King and his Consort are dressed in Stuart costume  and lead the Garland procession on horseback with music and dancing in the village.

Peveril Castle

Imposing ruins of Peveril Castle stand high above the village. Mentioned in the Domesday survey, Peveril Castle is one of England’s earliest Norman fortresses. Climb to the castle at the top of the hill to enjoy breath taking views over the Hope Valley.

The castle was built by William Peveril, son of William the Conqueror in 1086. The keep was built in 1176 by Henry II to whom Peveril forfeited his estates. It attained its greatest importance during the reign of King Edward I, and fell into decline after 1400. The castle today belongs to the Duchy of Lancaster, and is in the custody of English Heritage. There are spectacular views from the top of Castle Hill especially northwest towards Kinder Scout.

Show Caverns

There are 4 caves at Castleton accessible by guided tour. Treak Cliff cavern and Blue John cavern contain beautiful caves decorated with stalactites formations, and blue john stone. Peak cavern is the resurgence of a huge river system. In its enormous entrance are the remains of a rope-making walk. Speedwell mine is an old lead mine and visitors are taken along a flooded tunnel by boat.

The Blue John Cavern, Castleton, Hope Valley, S33 8WP

The Blue John Cavern is home to 8 of the 14 known veins of this beautiful mineral. The Cavern is well illuminated by electric lighting.

The cavern is not suitable for visitors with heart conditions, breathing or mobility problems as there a large number of steps.

Peak Cavern, Castleton, Hope Valley, S33 8WS

The largest natural cave entrance in the British Isles.

Joint ticket with Speedwell is valid for 6 months from date of first use.

Speedwell Cavern, Winnats Pass, Castleton, Hope Valley, S33 8WA

Treak Cliff Cavern Ltd, c/o Castleton Gift Shop, Cross Street, Castleton, Hope Valley, S33 8WH

Large deposits of Blue John stone, and houses some of the most beautiful cave formations.

All Tours are guided and last approximately 40 minutes. Dogs are welcome on a lead; photography is allowed.

Mam Tor

At the top of Mam Tor (owned by National Trust), can be seen the remains of an Iron Age fort. The ramparts and ditches can be seen encircling the top. The falling away of the side of the hill has led to it being called “the Shivering Mountain”. The local tribe who lived here in Iron Age 1500 years before Christ were called the Brigantes.

Winnats Pass

The National Trust owns the pass and Treak Cliff hill to its west. It is very popular with visitors and is one of the most spectacular limestone gorges in the Peak. There are several theories put forward as to its formation including one that it was formed under water during the growth of a reef by lagoon current. The gorge was later enlarged by glacial melt waters during the Ice Age. At present, it is the only route to Castleton from the west since the major landslip of Mam Tor in 1977 destroyed the A625 route beneath it.

Cave Dale

This is a spectacular valley, which can be seen from Castle Hill. It can be entered by walking between two cottages in Bar Gate above the Market Place where a signpost shows the beginning of the Limestone Way to Matlock.

A-Z of Castleton amenities

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