We Have A Few!
On The Doorstep
The imposing ruins of Peveril Castle stand high above the pretty village of Castleton in the heart of Derbyshire’s Peak District. Mentioned in the Domesday survey, Peveril Castle is one of England’s earliest Norman fortresses. The castle was built sometime between 1066 and 1086. It was named after William Peveril, who was given the title of bailiff of the Royal Manors of the Peak after the Norman Conquest of 1066. Some historians believe Peveril was the illegitimate son of William the Conqueror. The keep was built by Henry II in 1176. (Image Credit: Peveril Castle by Steven Newton)
Enter an ancient underground wonderland in the heart of the Peak District National Park. Your guide will explain how miners in the 1750’s constructed a tunnel using only hand tools to reach the Blue John Stone deposits inside the hill. You will see veins of Blue John Stone across the cave roof, and ‘The Pillar’, the largest piece ever found. Your guide will point out fossils in the limestone rock which formed the hillside above you 330 million years ago. You enter the mysterious Witch’s Cave where even richer deposits of Blue John Stone are revealed. The guided tour descends even deeper into the hill where you will experience the wonder of underground limestone cave formations. Multi-coloured flowstone adorns the walls of Aladdin’s Cave. Stalactites and stalagmites decorate Fairyland and the Dream Cave. The most famous formation is ‘The Stork’, standing on one leg! Treak Cliff Cavern is of international fame and geological importance. It has been a designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest for many years and by agreement with English Nature all the Blue John Stone deposits on the visitor route are preserved. However, Blue John Stone is regularly mined in Treak Cliff Cavern, from areas not seen by visitors. This is then crafted into fine jewellery, small bowls, ornaments and other decorative items. Don’t forget once Castleton Christmas lights switch on you can enjoy a afternoon of carols underground with mulled wine.
Peak Cavern is probably the most impressive natural cavern in Britain. It is open as a show cave all year round (except Christmas day). It’s worth walking up there even if you don’t want to go underground. Take a narrow lane from the top corner of the village square (past the chip shop) to reach Peaks Hole Water, the stream which flows from the cavern. Take a path up the right hand bank of the stream into the deep chasm which is the entrance, and notice on the other side a small stream flowing into Peaks Hole Water. This is the water from Russet Well, and the water has come underground from caverns on the west side of Winnats pass – tracing the source of the water took the local geologists a long time! Now approach the impressive entrance to the cavern, which was once used by a family of rope makers who built their cottages actually within the cave entrance.
Today you can still visit the cave and witness the traditional art of rope making but they also hold events throughout the year. There’s a wide range of live music including; classic brass bands with carol singing at Christmas, tribute bands and famous artists. Alternatively you may wish to take the opportunity to watch a classic film underground.
Set at the foot of the spectacular Winnats Pass, high above the village of Castleton, Speedwell Cavern takes you on an incredible underground boat journey. Descend the 105 steps from the almost hidden cave entrance to the landing stage of an underground canal where you step on to your tour guide’s boat. From here you glide quietly through the workings of a 200 year old lead mine. Picture in your mind what it must have been like to carve out these tunnels using only the most primitive tools as your guide recounts the story of the mine which opens into a network of natural caverns and underground rivers. At Halfway House the canal tunnel splits into two to allow oncoming boats to pass as you wend your way 200 metres below the surface of the hill before entering a magnificent cathedral-like cavern containing the awesome Bottomless Pit – a huge subterranean lake.
The tour of the cavern commences with the descent of a short flight of steps through a man-made passageway some fifteen yards in length, and from the foot of this stairway visitors pass at once into the beginning of the natural caverns. From this point on, the awe-inspiring majesty of the Caverns can be appreciated. Bull Beef. A working which has produced some of the very best and largest pieces of Blue John Stone ever mined. This variety of Blue John is known as “Bull Beef” because of its likening to raw beef. The Grand Crystallised Cavern is dome shaped and lofty with mineral colourings and markings which resemble a sawn across tree trunk. The waterfall Cavern, the whole left hand side of the cavern is covered in stalagmitic formations looking like a frozen waterfall. The high roof is richly coloured with iron oxide deposits. The Stalactite Cavern shows the meandering course that the underground river took. The roof resembles a riverbed upside down; a fringe of stalactites can clearly be seen. Lord Mulgrave’s Dining Room formed when two underground rivers met forming a whirlpool which then created its circular shape. It’s named Lord Mulgrave’s Dining room because it is said his Lordship entertained a group of miners to a dinner of some sort. The Variegated Cavern, the last of caverns shown to the public is majestic and somewhat awe-inspiring being 200 feet High. It gets its name from the variety of markings on the walls and in the roof.
Slightly Further Afield
Take a journey…beneath the earth with expert guides, explore the vast limestone caverns see how crystal stalactites have lined the chambers over millions of years. Stroll though beautiful woodland trails to a panoramic Peak District hilltop viewpoint.
Bolsover Castle is in the town of Bolsover, (grid reference SK471707), in the north-east of the English county of Derbyshire. Built in the early 17th century, the present castle lies on the earthworks and ruins of the 12th-century medieval castle; the first structure of the present castle was built between 1612 and 1617 by Sir Charles Cavendish.
Riber Castle is a 19th-century Grade II listed country house in the hamlet of Riber on a hill overlooking Matlock, Derbyshire. Known locally as “Smedley’s Folly” because of the difficulty of getting water to the hill summit, it was built by the industrialist John Smedley in 1862 as his private home.
Codnor Castle has a stone keep and bailey fortress and was established by William Peverel. The present fragmentary remains represent a three-storey keep and a strong curtain wall and ditch, flanked by round towers. The outer bailey is on a lower level and was constructed at a later period. The castle overlooks the Erewash valley and the counties of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. It originally had a deep moat and on its eastern side there was once a considerable abundance of trees, which have now been cut down. On the west side there was a courtyard that was strongly fortified by huge round towers, which had battlements. In other parts of the ruins there is evidence that the outer walls had arrow-loops included to allow bowmen to use them if necessary.