Things To Do In Castleton
Castleton is one of the most popular centres in the Peak District. Maybe this is because it has everything the visitor might want – picturesque scenery, a ruined Norman castle, show caves, interesting geology, good walks and a pretty village. However, it also has a lot of tourists, even in winter, and on summer weekends you must be prepared to jostle with the crowds!
The village is centred around a square in which the church lies – this is just off the main road and directly beneath Peveril Castle on the hill behind. The castle was built in 1080 as a wooden building and rebuilt in stone around 1175 and the church was begun about the same time. It has a fine Norman arch across the Nave, which was constructed from 1190 to 1250. The tower was added in 1450-1500 and more additions were made in the 19th century. Our top tip, if you have time is to take a picnic up and enjoy the breath-taking views. You’ll get a Birdseye view of the signs of the Norman era which still remain – across the main road by the Bull’s Head Inn you can see a section of the Town Ditch, a defensive earthwork built around the village. This was once a feature of many of the villages of the region.
The two main features of interest, apart from the castle, are Cave Dale and Peak Cavern. Both are reached from the top of the main square – Cave Dale to the left (east) and Peak Cavern to the right (west). Cave Dale is a collapsed cavern and the very bottom part was covered by a natural arch until 200 years ago.
It is a spectacular walk up the dale, which is very deep and narrow, with mineral veins crossing it at intervals. As you climb up the dale you get a good view of Peveril Castle. It is also worth thinking about the fact that a lot of the way you are walking right above the chambers of Peak Cavern!
Around the village square are some fine old houses and cottages, including the old Youth Hostel and did you know you are actually staying in part of what was the youth hostel. Oh and we should mention the pubs in the market square. On the main road there are several shops selling Blue John (a local variety of Fluorspar with a fine colouring), jewellery made from this or souvenirs. One shop here houses the Ollerenshaw Collection, which contains a range of fine specimens of Blue John. The main road has several more pubs. Towards Mam Tor there is a public car park with public toilets, and the Peak National Park Information Centre (telephone 01433 620679).
Castleton has a carnival at the end of May which is called Garland Day on May 29th, when large garlands of flowers are made and the participants wear sprigs of oak. The Garland King and Queen are weighed down with immense garlands and a parade takes place through the village to the main square, when the King’s garland is placed on top of the church tower. The ceremony commemorates the Restoration of Charles II (hence the oak sprigs), but may well be a relic of some ancient fertility rite. The procession ends in the Market Place where dancing girls perform Maypole dances and then the “Queen” is placed on the Cenotaph.
Still feeling you’re in need of some more ideas for your trip to Castleton? Check out Visit Castleton for more ideas, news, business listings, reviews, events, history, literally everything about our town.
And for the ultimate resource relating to everything in our area, take a look at the Visit Peak District & Derbyshire website. They have a huge amount of resources to help you plan your trip and the latest Covid-19 visitor information.
If you fancy heading out but want a bit of support why not try Pure Outdoor Ltd. They provide UK hill walking, navigation, rock climbing, caving, first aid, Winter skills, mountain guiding, corporate training and group events from their base in the village of Bamford in the Peak District. Their aim is to provide high quality, low instructor/client ratio courses which are accessible to all.
Join one of their courses or give them a call to see if they could arrange a session tailored to you. We have used them in the past and they were great.