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All about Castleton in Derbyshire holiday cottages

All about Castleton in Derbyshire

Jemima Kirkwood 30 July 2020

Castleton is one of the most beautifully situated villages in the White Peak of the Peak District and it is the only place in the world where you will find the semi-precious stone ‘Blue John’ which is unique to Derbyshire.

The village is really popular for its history, geology, show caves, shops and of course all the outdoor adventure and walking. Castleton was founded after Peveril Castle was built in 1086 by William Peveril, who was son of William the Conqueror. The population of the village was made up of farmers, retailers, men at arms and other tradesmen and was mainly a lead mining and market village. It was settled on the main packhorse routes and became an important stopover in the coaching days in later centuries.

Today, Castleton is an idyllic village standing true to its past with much historic architecture and town layout remaining. It is an interesting place to visit with much going on, so if you are looking for somewhere that can teach you about the history of this great area this would be a lovely village to do just that. Read on to find out all the things you can get up to when visiting this great Peak District village. Here are a few great things to do in Castleton...

Things to do in Castleton

1. Visit the ancient Peveril Castle

The imposing ruins of Peveril Castle stand high above the village of Castleton. Being one of England’s earliest Norman fortresses, it has been a place of interest for centuries. Originally built in 1086, it has had an interesting history having belonged to Henry II when Peveril forfeited his estates. The castle fell into decline after a period of importance during the reign of King Edward I, and now stands today as impressive ruins.

You can visit these ruins, walk around them admiring what is left, and imagine what once was. There are some amazing views from the top of Castle Hill, the best ones are northwest towards Kinder Scout, one of the Peak District’s highest mountains.

The visitor centre offers informative displays sharing facts on the history of the castle and you will also find a shop here and toilet facilities.

Location: The castle itself does not have parking but there is plenty of space at the visitor centre which is only a 10-minute walk away from the bottom of the hill. Sat Nav: S33 8WQ

For more ideas on historical places to visit, check out our guide to historic houses and castles in the Peak District.

2. Explore the underground caverns

There are four caves at Castleton which are all accessible by guided tours and if you have time to visit them all, we recommend you do as they are truly fascinating. Blue John stone is a semi-precious stone that can only be found in this part of the Peak District; there is nowhere else in the world where you will find it. As you can imagine, this is something the locals are extremely proud of and these caves are a popular tourist destination for those who want to catch a glimpse of the rare stone themselves. Here are the three caves you can visit in Castleton.

The Blue John Cavern

The world-famous Blue John Cavern can be found in Castleton and it is said to be one of the finest caves that can be viewed by the public in Western Europe. You can take a guided tour around the cave, learning about the history of the caves, the discovery of the stone and the extraction methods, and everything else. There is no better way to find out all about it.

The tour takes you through a number of different caverns including the Waterfall Cavern and the Stalactite Cavern which is 20ft in height with a ceiling of stalactites – just amazing!

Helpful information:

  • Open: 9.30am – 5pm daily.
  • Location: S33 8WA
  • Prices: Adults - £14.00, Seniors - £10.00, Family (2 adults, 2 children) £40.00, Children - £7.00, Students - £10.00, children under 5 go free. If you are a group of 15 or over, it is advised you call ahead on 01433 620 638
  • Dogs are welcome but you are politely asked to keep them on a lead and pick up after them if they mess in the public outdoor areas.

Peak Cavern

Set in the middle of Castleton, this awe-inspiring cavern is like something from another land. The entrance to the limestone chamber is set below 280ft-high vertical cliffs with the ruins of Peveril Castle towering above, which is impressive in itself. Enter in and you will come across the remains of an ancient village where a whole community would have lived, producing ropes for the local lead mines for over 400 years!

This is actually the largest cave entrance in the British Isles. You can take a guided tour deep into the cavern to see all of the different caves including the Devil’s Cellar and Pluto’s Dining Room. You can also experience a rope-making demonstration!

Helpful information:

  • Open: 10am – 5pm daily. Last tour at 4pm.
  • Location: S33 8WS
  • Prices: Adult - £15.00, Children - £8.00. visit the website for other prices. If you are a group of 25 people or over, it is asked that you call ahead.

Speedwell Cavern 

Set at the foot of the wonderful Winnats Pass, high above the village of Castleton, this cavern takes you on an exciting underground adventure…in a boat! Take a slightly different adventure through the depths of the Peak District and absorb the eerie atmosphere as the watery silence surrounds you. As everyone respects the peace and admiration of their fellow tourists, you will feel incredibly calm travelling at a slow pace through the dark caves.

This is a 200-year-old lead mine which is amazing in itself, to think that people used to spend their lives down here carving out tunnels using only the most primitive of tools. After the tour you can pick up a souvenir or two from the gift shop.

Helpful information:

  • Opening times: 10am – 5pm daily. Last tour at 4pm.
  • Location: S33 8WA
  • Prices: You can view all prices on the website here

3. Take a walk in Cave Dale

Cave Dale is a dry limestone valley in Derbyshire in the Peak District and the northern end of the Dale starts in Castleton which means there are some epic walks to be undertaken in this beautiful region. Whether you want something easy going and child-friendly, or something a bit more energetic, this area can cater for all abilities. The dale rises for about 200 metres after leaving Castleton and at the top, views out over Peveril Castle and Lose Hill can be enjoyed. This is a nice place to get out into the countryside for some gentle walks and nice views.

Take on the circular walk starting at Castleton which follows a marked trail. Walk through Cave Dale and at around the 2-mile mark, you turn east and then north onto Ditlow Rake. On your journey, you will pass a series of disused mines before coming to Pin Dale where you will take in gorgeous scenery.

Fascinating fact: Cave Dale was initially formed by glacial meltwater carving a deep narrow valley in the local soluble limestone. The river then found a route underground leaving a dry valley with caverns underneath. Later on, the caverns below Cave Dale collapsed making the valley even deeper and gorge-like at the northern end.

Location: S33 8WS 

For more inspiration on nice walks to go on in the Peak District, read our guide to the best Peak District walks and routes to enjoy during your break.

4. Conquer the mountain Mam Tor

You cannot leave the Peak District without going up one of the highest hills and experiencing the panoramic views from the top. The viewpoint of Mam Tor stretches over Edale Valley to Kinder Scout and the Derwent Moors, and there is a lovely circular walk which you can go on to make the most of it all. There is a well looked after stone footpath which leads you all the way up from the car park, so it is family-friendly and will give everyone a great day out. Start location grid reference: SK123832

The summit of this circular route comes early into the walk, and once you have reached the top and taken in the views, you can continue on following the flagstone path north along the ridge of the mountain. This circular walk is well marked out so make sure you follow the signs to uncover all the surprises along the way – you can even tie in a trip to Blue John Cavern which you will pass on the walk! Read more about this great route on the National Trust website

5. Take a trip to Winnats Pass

Winnats Pass is a narrow winding pass located near Castleton in the Peak District National Park. The road winds through an impressive valley with steep limestone ridges and pinnacles resting quietly but dominantly above. If you are the kind of tourists who like to see an area by driving around it, then it would definitely be worth fitting this into your itinerary whilst visiting Castleton.

Due to the narrowness of the road, it is closed to HGVs which means it is a safe place to take your bicycle if you fancy cycling through it on two wheels. The pass has, in fact, been used in cycle races since the 1950s! The area has lots of fossils in the limestone which you will come across, but remember these are not to be picked up as this is a protected area.

You cannot leave this area without visiting Winnats Pass.

There you have it, five great things to try out during your stay in Castleton. If you have a younger family and you don’t feel any of these are suitable, here are some child-friendly things to do around Castleton.

Days out with the kids around Castleton

Hathersage open-air heated pool

On hot days, it is hard to spend time inside when you want to make the most of the weather. So take the kids to this open-air swimming pool and let them splash their way to happiness in the cool water. It is a nice way to keep them cool, especially in the summer months. There is a pretty section of lawn for you all to sit, run and play, or enjoy a picnic or ice cream. This would be a lovely way to spend the afternoon. 

Location: S32 1DU

Peak District Alpaca Experience

Most children love animals so it's likely that a trip to see some friendly alpacas will go down well! This farm has six friendly alpacas for you to make friends with and you can spend some time here walking with them, feeding them and spending time with them. This is a nice way to introduce the children to a new animal, letting them learn about what they eat and how they live and allowing them to interact with a new creature. Or maybe you are a group of friends who really want to meet some alpacas! 

Location: SK12 0RW. 

Children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Eyam Treasure Trail

Whilst history, geology and ancient places might be of interest to some in the family, younger children find it hard to keep occupied in these places, so it is nice to know there are places to give you a happy balance of things to do. Take the kids to the nearby village of Eyam where you can go on a self-guided treasure hunt around the village. As you follow the trail route, you can have fun solving the sneaky clues set on existing buildings, permanent features and monuments to discover the location of the buried treasure. Lots of fun! 

Location: S32 5QP

Places to stay in Castleton

Now you have some great inspiration it is time to start planning your trip to Castleton in the Peak District. Here are some stand out self-catering holiday homes which you could consider for your next break away.


Lower Apartment

 

  • Sams Stable - A stylish and traditional stone built cottage, perfect for a romantic getaway. Sleeps 4 and welcomes 2 dogs.
  • Cave End Cottage - A cosy and compact 200-year-old cottage set on the edge of Castleton. Sleeps 3.
  • Eden Tree Cottage - A cute cottage with fantastic walks right on its doorstep. Sleeps 2 and welcomes 1 dog.
  • Upper Apartment and Lower Apartment - Two spacious apartments which can be booked together if needed. Both sleep 2 and welcome 3 dogs.


For more options view all of our holiday cottages in Castleton and plan your break to the Peak District today.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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