For the last day of my little break, I’d hoped to slot in another walk before heading over to Hope to catch the train back home. The weather forecast was, however, not looking so promising. Although I woke up to bright sunshine heavy rain and thunderstorms were forecast for the afternoon. So not wanting to get caught up on the hills in a heavy downpour a change of plan was in order. I decided I’d wander over to Castleton village and have a mooch. Although I’d been to Castleton a few times I’ve never looked around the village properly, so that seemed like a good option before I walked back across the fileds to Hope station.
Castleton is located at the end of the Hope valley, on the boundary of the Millstone Grit plateau of the Dark Peak to the north and the limestone landscape of the White Peak. hemmed in by the “Great Ridge” to the north and limestone hills to the west and south, it would be a dead end except for the dramatic Winnats Pass and Cave Dale, steep sided valleys cutting through the limstone.
It’s an old settlement, going way back to before the Norman Conquest. There were certainly people around here before the Ronans, with the remains of an Iron Age fort still visible on top of MamTor. After 1086 the area came under the control of William Peveril, allegedly an illigmitate son of William the Bastard, who had a castle constructed overlooking the village – it’s ruins remain today under the stewardship of English Heritage.
Although today it’s a “honeypot” attracting droves of tourists, walkers, cyclists and cavers, it was originally a working village, the main industry being mining for lead, other metals and the fluorite banded mineral known as “Blue John“. There’ several shops selling jewellry and trinkets using the attractive blue and yellow stone.
It was a relatively short, pleasant walk through the fields from the hostel on a sunny morning. I fancied a coffee, but none of the cafes opened until at least 9:30, so I had a wander around the narrow streets of the village. There were plenty of attractive stone cottages that would have once been the homes of miners and other workers.
When you’re in the village, you can’t fail to notice a huge cavern set back in the hillside. This the Peak Cavern, one of the four show caves near the village, although that’s not it’s original name. Until a visit by Queen Victoria it was known as the ‘Devil‘s Arse’. In the past the cave system was mined and later there was a rope works here. In more recent time, as well as being opened as a tourist attractions, it’s been used as a concert venue and a cinema.
After wandeing around I was ready for a coffee so indulged at the cafe attached to the Visitor Centre, by the main car park. There were several frustrated motorists looking for change as the car park doesn’t accept payments by card and since the events of the past 18 months people are less likely to be carrying coins in their pockets.
Refuelled with caffeine I set off on the walk back to Hope to catch the midday train.
Menacing clouds were gathering over the hills to the west
It’s a pleasant walk through the fields with views over to the Great Ridge.
The clouds continued to move in and were starting to look menacing as I approached the train station. This was the view looking back
I boarded my train just as the cloud moved in. The train headed straight towards it and as it emerged from the tunnel at Chinley the heavens opened.
We’d passed through the cloud by the time we reached Manchester Piccadilly where I just made the connection to Wigan. It was sunny by the time I got home. But that was the end of the good weather for a while – all changed the next day!.