PEAK CAVERN - CASTLETON
Set in a magnificent location with wonderful views in all directions, Castleton, frequently referred to, as the gem of the Peak, is one of Britainís most appealing villages. Approaching from the southwest you descend into Castleton through the spectacular Winnats Pass with its forbidding appearance. The impressive ruins of Peveril Castle, originally built by William Peverel look down on the village, but it is for its caverns that it is most famous.
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.
The delightful riverside walk to Peak Cavern takes you past former lead miners cottages. Before opening out into a spectacular limestone gorge, arriving rather suddenly at the entrance to the awe-inspiring Peak Cavern, the largest natural cave entrance in the British Isles. The vertical cliffs are 280 feet high, with Peveril Castle rising majestically above.
Until the late 19th century, when lead mining came to an end, the ropemakers who inhabited the cave, supplied rope for Castleton's lead mining industry. The ropemaking equipment that remains is now used by the tour guides to demonstrate the skill to visitors.
The cavern is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster and is open to the public (for details see side panel). Although exceptionally heavy rainfall can flood the cave and force closure. The old name given to the cave by the locals, of the 'Devil's Arse' is now increasingly used in promotional material.
The guided tours take about one hour and include Pluto's Dining Room, the Great Cave and the Devil's Cellar where the stream flowing underneath the cavern can be heard. You will also hear the excellent acoustics of the Orchestra Gallery in the Great Cave, where village maidens used to sing to distinguished visitors, including Queen Victoria. In more recent times carol concerts have been held here over the two weekends before Christmas. The concerts are very popular and advanced booking is essential.
Apart from those with disabilities, the tour of the cavern is comparatively easy, and most enjoyable. The tour guides provide detailed information about the cavern's history, interwoven with many amusing anecdotes. Visitors are encouraged to join in the ropemaking demonstration.
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features on towns and villages with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
The site is expanding to include many other features of interest to the local person and visitor alike. Why not bookmark this site for future reference.
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www.derbyshire-peakdistrict.co.uk is an independent, not for profit website.
No recommendation of any establishment is implied by inclusion on this website.
At: Castleton, Hope Valley, Derbyshire S33 8WS
Tel: UK: 01433 620285
Special group discounts for advanced bookings. Not suitable for all disabled visitors - please check in advance. Pay and display car and coach parking is available with a discount scheme for Cavern visitors - details on request.
PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
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 Europeís largest collection of multi-specied otters and owls including Britainís only pair of giant otters. Situated in wooded parkland. Shop and Tea Room. For further information website: www.ottersandowls.co.uk
Edale where the Nagís 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 Parkís Field Head Visitor Centre is also here.
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.
A great walk with beautiful views, a Norman Castle, four of Europeís most spectacular caverns and an historic village.
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.
CASTLETON INFORMATION CENTRE AND MUSEUM
Castleton's new state-of-the-art information centre incorporates a museum into the building.
All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.