Castleton

Set amongst the most beautiful backdrop, Castleton is a small village which gets deceptively busy. It looks like it should be in a fairytale book and it has unique rock formations, castle ruins, small exciting caves to explore complete with their very own treasure, tales of murder and intrigue, and insight of the Shimmering Mountain.

It lies 16 miles west of Sheffield, at the end of the Hope Valley and is overlooked by the majestic Lose Hill on one side and Mam Tor on the other. The village is made up of very pretty limestone buildings which are in a neat and tidy line around the village green, which has its own war memorial cross.

The four show caves are very different and the nearest is Peak Cavern, which has the largest opening in Britain. It has amazing acoustics and has been used to host musical concerts and even weddings. It was known in the 17th century under two different names, the Devil's Hole and the Devil's Arse and the river that flows through its subterranean passages is known as the Styx.

The cave was once lived and worked in, where for hundreds of years, whole families made ropes there, the remnants of which can be seen just inside the mouth today. Speedwell cavern is at the foot of the gloriously spectacular Winnat's Pass and is the only cave in Britain, where visitors are transported along its passageways by boat. It is a very different experience altogether, descending 100 steps into dark tunnel, then onto the boat where the tour guide will tell you of an eerie story of the tragic young couple who were murdered in 1758. The waters are quite shallow, about 3 feet deep but the journey ends at the legendary bottomless pit and the trip is not for everyone, especially young children. It was formally brought into being by late 18th century miners who hand drilled and blasted their way through the 150 feet of solid rock to breakthrough into the bottomless pit, which was an amazing feat of engineering at the time.

Blue John cavern and Treak Clift cavern contain the Blue John Flourospa, which can be seen in situ in the cave in its natural form, or better still, polished and set into jewellery and ornaments throughout the little gift shops of the village.

The ruin of Peverill Castle, which was built by William the Conqueror for his illegitimate son, William Peverill, clings to the side of Cavedale. William served as the Bailiff of the Royal Forest of the Peak and overseer to the lead mining within the area. The views, once you have made the rather steep hike, are truly wonderful, taking in the spectacular high ridge favoured by walkers which run all the from Mam Tor at the West End the valley, through Hollins Cross and finally to Lose Hill, which stands at 476 metres.

The road which winds its way past the Speedwell cavern and up through the pass, is very steep reaching one in four near its upper levels. Flanked either side by lofty limestone buttresses, it is a very popular place for tourists and walkers, especially during the summer months. The tale which is retold at Speedwell cavern is relating to two runaway lovers who hoped to get married at the village of Peak Forest but were ambushed by miners who noticed they carried money with them, after they had stopped at a Castleton Inn earlier in the day. Their bodies remained hidden for over 10 years until one of the miners confessed.

Castleton has a market square, but as with many villages throughout the Peak District, it no longer functions as a working market. The winding lanes and footpath all lead to the Main Street which is full to bursting with charming gift shops and six pubs as well as lots of cafes. Christmas in Castleton is very magical as every shop in house are decorated with twinkling trees and the lights and the streets looks beautiful, especially after a dusting of snow or a frost.

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