Castleton Information Centre
Main Street
Hope Valley
S33 8WP
A great walk with magnificent views, a Norman Castle, four of Europe's most spectacular
caverns and an historic village. Cave Dale is one of the most beautiful parts of Castleton
with cliffs rising almost perpendicular at the start of the walk with Peveril Castle towering
above. After reaching the head of the dale the route becomes more open with expansive
Winnats Pass is considered to be one of the most impressive features of Derbyshire
limestone country with steep craggy sides rising up on either side of the road. Leaving the
top of the Pass behind, the walk visits Blue John Cavern, Treak Cliff Cavern and Speedwell
Cavern in succession before returning to Castleton by a scenic route and visiting Peak
There is plenty to see and do in Castleton and it is worth rounding off the day by visiting
Peveril Castle.
Length: 4.5 miles.
Start/finish: Castleton Village Car Park on west side of village.
Location: On A625 Sheffield to Chapel-en-le-Frith road.
Terrain: Long rocky climb up Cave Dale which can be very wet underfoot after heavy rain.
From then on fairly easy going but with some steep descents.
1. Leave the car park at the bottom by a stream to walk between a group of houses
before turning right at the end and then straight on over the main road.
2. As the main road bends to the right, continue straight on past the church and the
village green to follow the road as it swings left. Soon after, take a footpath sign on the
right between two cottages.
3. Follow the rocky path up steep sided Cave Dale past Peveril Castle continuing in the
same direction through several gates, eventually with a wall on the right as the walk
begins to level out.
4. At an Information Board turn right through a metal gate stile and continue close to
wall on the left to another stile leading into a large field. Cross the field diagonally to a stile
by a gate to walk down a farm track for a short distance.
5. At the end of the farm track go over a stile and turn right along a wide walled lane and
then right again at a lane junction to walk for about one mile to the B6061.
6. Follow the road round to the right towards Winnats Pass and just past Winnats Pass
Farm on the left go through a stile and head back behind the farm buildings.
7. Take the path indicated by the sign in the centre of the field down to Blue John Cavern,
continuing on to head down the hillside to Treak Cliff Cavern.
8. Take the concrete path to the right from the cavern, going through a gap in the rail
signed ‘Winnats’ across the fields to Speedwell Cavern.
9. Just below the cavern, by the side of the road take the path beside a National Trust
Sign. Then keep close to the wall on the left all the way all the way back to Castleton.
10. On reaching Castleton take the first road on your right and walk round to the
entrance of Peak Cavern. On the return journey keep close to the wall on the right down to
the bridge over Peakshole Water.
11. Cross the bridge and go left to follow the stream down to the main road, where the
entrance to the car park you started from is straight in front of you.
Frequently referred to, as the gem of the Peak, Castleton is one of Britain’s most appealing
villages, set in a magnificent location with wonderful views in all directions. Approaching
from the southwest you descend into Castleton through the spectacular Winnats Pass with
its forbidding appearance.
In 1758 it was the scene of the horrific murder by five lead miners of a young couple
journeying to the Peak Forest to get married. The crime was never solved until the last
surviving miner confessed on his lingering deathbed. It was later revealed the other four
miners had also met terrible ends.
William Peverel originally built Peveril Castle. He was a favourite knight of William the
Conqueror who made him bailiff of the royal manors in north western Derbyshire. At that
time the Peak Forest was rich in both game and minerals and the castle was ideal for
protecting both. King Henry II built the stone keep almost 100 years later in 1176. It still
stands today and can be viewed at close quarters by those prepared to climb the steep
zigzag path leading up to the castle, made famous by Sir Walter Scott, in his novel ‘Peveril
of the Peak’.
Under the protection of the castle the village grew up in a distinct gridiron formation, inside
a protective Town Ditch, parts of which can still be seen. It was an important stopover for
packhorses and, in later years, stagecoaches. The village takes its name from the castle,
‘ton’ being of Anglo-Saxon origin and meaning ‘an enclosure’.
Castleton is most famous for its caverns of which only Peak Cavern is a true cave. Directly
beneath the castle, it has a dramatic entrance and is said to have the largest cave entrance
in Britain. It once contained houses and there is still evidence of soot from the chimneys on
the roof. There is even a report in 1794 of an alehouse in the cave. The entrance was used
for hundreds of years for rope making and some of the equipment used still remains.
Blue John Cavern is famous for its semi-precious stone, Speedwell for its half-mile
subterranean boat trip and Treak Cliff Cavern for its stalactites. The mining of Blue John
stone is unique to Castleton. Pieces can be found all over the world including the White
House and Vatican. The world famous cavern is of outstanding educational and geological
interest and is open to the public.
Mam Tor is often called the ‘Shivering Mountain’ because its layers of soft shale between
harder beds of gritstone frequently crumble, causing landslips. These have been sufficiently
severe to permanently close the A625, which has been re-routed to Castleton through
Winnats Pass.
There is an Iron Age Fort near the summit of Mam Tor from which superb views can be
gained. By Treak Cliff is the Odin Mine, which in the 18th century produced large quantities
of good quality lead ore; alongside is a crushing stone and circle, once used to dress the
Oak Apple Day, 29 May is Garland Day at Castleton. A ‘King’ and ‘Queen’ ride on horseback
through the streets, the king’s head completely covered by a garland in the form of an
inverted basket decorated with flowers. The procession is accompanied by music and
dancing. Progress tends to be slow as all the pubs in the village are visited before the
garland is finally hoisted to the top of the church tower. The origins of the ceremony are
uncertain although frequently linked to the restoration of King Charles II who escaped the
Roundheads by hiding in an oak tree.
The village is a delightful cluster of old stone cottages that invite exploration. The sparkling
little stream leading to Peak Cavern takes you through the oldest part of Castleton. Along
the main street are a large variety of gift shops, cafes and restaurants to suit all tastes.
At Christmas the village takes on a magical appeal with pretty lights, decorations and an
array of Christmas trees, which attracts visitors from far and wide.
St Edmunds’ Church still retains box pews, a Norman arch and a valuable Breeches Bible of
1611. In the market place, Castleton Hall is now a Youth Hostel and by an attractive old
tree on the green stands a war memorial in the form of a cross.
A splendid new information centre opened its doors on 2nd April 2004. It incorporates a
museum, where the Castleton Historical Society stage a range of displays and a community
meeting room.
1. Peveril Castle.
2. Peak Cavern.
3. Cave Dale.
4. St Edmund's Church.
5. Castleton Youth Hostel.
6. Museum.
7. Former Tourist Information Centre.
8. Green and War Memorial.
9. Town Ditch.
10. The Castle Inn.
11.The Cosy Cottage Tea Rooms.
12. Goosehill Bridge.
Caverns without doubt the most spectacular collection of caverns in the country is within
easy walking distance of Castleton. Speedwell (Tel. 01433 620512), Blue John (Tel. 01433
620638), Treak (01433 620571) and Peak (Tel. 01433 620285).
Chestnut Centre (Tel. 01298 814099) houses Europe’s largest collection of multi-specied
otters and owls including Britain’s only pair of giant otters. Situated in wooded parkland.
Shop and Tea Room. For further information website:
Edale where the Nag’s Head Inn is the traditional starting point of the 270 mile Pennine Way
Trail, as it winds its way north to the Scottish border at Kirk Yetholm. The Peak District
National Park’s Field Head Visitor Centre is also here.