Castleton is a small village in the Peaks District, and is at the edge of the Vale of Hope. It is full of steep hills. Under these hills are the caverns that fascinate the tourists and travelers. A well known Celtic hill fort is there, and is on a hill called Mam Tor. The buildings in Castleton are typical of the area and made from limestone. The borders of the paddocks are made of rocks that are very attractive.
There is one main road that goes through Castleton and on it seems a never ending supply of jewellers, featuring naturally, Blue John Stone, from which this area is famous. There are also plenty of cafes and pubs for you to choose from. We stopped off at Ye Olde Nags Head and had a scrumptious meal there.
We ran out of time to explore everything in Castleton so have made plans to go back there the next opportunity we get. Perhaps we will wait until our next lot of visitors arrive. What I would like to see next time will be Peveril Castle. The history of the castle is that it was a gift from William the Conqueror in 1086 to his son William Peveril.
The first people to settle in Castleton were the Celts. The hill called Mamtor was known as the shivering mountain and contains the remains of the Celtic hill fort on summit, an enclosure of 16 acres at an altitude of 1700 ft. When we were there, we saw a lot of people walking up the summit to it. The interesting thing is that the keep, added in 1176 was used as a dwelling until 1480.
Originally I thought there was only one cave to explore in Castleton, the Treak Cliff Cavern where blue john is found. But to my puzzlement, we discovered when we got slightly lost, that there were in fact a total of four caves in Castleton. Peak Cavern, which has the largest opening in Britain. Interestingly, the source of the village river is Peak Cavern at Peakshole Water. Peak Cavern is popular amongst serious cavers too. You will also want to visit here if you are into archaeology and fossils.
Another cave is called Speedwell Cavern and is said to be the only cave in Britain with a boat ride. It also features an 11 metre deep ‘bottomless pit’. Blue John Cavern and Treak Cliff Cavern that features the blue and yellow fluorspar called blue john. Blue John was first mined at Treak Cliff.
In 1770, there were 16 mines for Blue John stone, and the stone was made into ornaments and clocks as well as jewellery. It is unique in that it is only found in the United Kingdom. A nearby town of Buxton also contains a museum that features the history of the Blue John stone, and jewellery stores offering delicate pieces made with blue john.
On the day we arrived to Castleton many of the houses along the main street had tables containing bric a brac and books and clothing for sale. They all had different numbers displayed on top of their tables. It seemed like they were all taking part in a village wide garage sale. What a fantastic idea. But I did feel sorry for them because it was pouring down with rain. However things did improve later on in the day as the rain stopped and the sun made a surprise visit.
We missed the Castleton Ancient Garland Day and Oak Apple Day that is celebrated each year on 29th of May. One of my best friends has her birthday on the 28th of May, so it’s a date I can easily remember. On the 29th, people dress up in Stuart style attire and pretend to be a King or Queen, and the idea is to celebrate the beginning of summer.
There are some lovely old pubs in the village, the Castle Hotel, and the YHA that is in a majestic building dating back to the 17th Century called Castleton Hall. The YHA has always been a favourite of mine, as you can generally always know what to expect and are confident in the security and standards that you will receive. To reach the YHA Castleton Hall just put in the postcode S33 8WG into your satnav, and telephone +44 (0)1433 620235. If a youth hostel is not your thing then there are plenty of other accommodation options including the traditional bed and breakfast.
Upcoming events include the Castleton Medieval Festival on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September 2009. It is free to attend, and you will be transported back 800 years in the past. There are craft markets, a concert, and reenactments.
If you have any questions on Castleton then be sure to check out the Castleton Visitor Centre on Buxton Road. If you have a satnav the postcode S33 8WN will get you there, or telephone +44 01433 620679 for directions. The visitor centre has a couple of rooms off to the side featuring exhibitions of local artists and photographers. You should also find the restrooms behind the visitor centre convenient. The carpark of the visitor centre is fairly large and a convenient place to stop. If you get the opportunity to visit Castleton over Christmas then be sure to check out their Christmas lights decorations between 16:00pm and 23:00pm daily during 14 November 2009 and 3 January 2010.