Castleton is a beautiful village situated at the head of the Hope Valley in the heart of the Peak District National Park. The village is popular for its show caves, history, shops, Christmas lights, garland ceremony, Winnats Pass, Cave Dale and for those wishing to walk on the numerous footpaths in the area . Surrounded by hillsides and overlooked by Mam Tor (the shivering mountain) and the ancient Peveril Castle.
This picturesque village is now designated a conservation area and much of its history can be read in its layout and architecture.
Castleton is on the boundary of the northern gritstone ‘Dark Peak’, and the southern limestone ‘ White Peak’.
The ridge to the north marks the beginning of the gritstone / shale beds giving rise to the high gritstone moorland plateaux. The gritstone shale bands can be seen in the face of Mam Tor and the instability of the shale beds is illustrated in the massive landslip on the A 625 at Mam Tor.
The hills to the south of the village are ancient coral reefs made of carboniferous limestone and behind them is the massive limestone laid down in a warm coral sea. The cave and underground river systems contain spectacular formations. The joints and cracks have been mineralised and contain veins of lead, fluorspar, barytes and calcite.
In Treak Cliff hill, a very pretty form of fluorspar, only found in this area, can be seen in two show caves. It is known as Blue John and is mined to make jewellery, which is sold locally. The mineral crystals were impregnated naturally during the formation with hydro – carbons, possibly altered by latent radio-activity in the rocks, to give them an attractive blue and yellow banding.
Castleton Garland Day, 29th May: Oak Apple Day on the 29th May, was once celebrated throughout the country in commemoration of Charles II regaining the throne. The Garland’ itself is a beehive shaped head-dress, covered with wild flowers and greenery, worn by the King over his head and shoulders. The King and his Consort are dressed in Stuart costume and lead the Garland procession on horseback with music and dancing in the village.
Peveril Castle: Imposing ruins of Peveril Castle stand high above the village. Mentioned in the Domesday survey, Peveril Castle is one of England’s earliest Norman fortresses. Climb to the castle at the top of the hill to enjoy breath taking views over the Hope Valley.
Show Caverns: There are 4 caves at Castleton accessible by guided tour. Treak Cliff cavern and Blue John cavern contain beautiful caves decorated with stalactites formations, and blue john stone. Peak cavern is the resurgence of a huge river system. In its enormous entrance are the remains of a rope-making walk. Speedwell mine is an old lead mine and visitors are taken along a flooded tunnel by boat.
Mam Tor: At the top of Mam Tor (owned by National Trust), can be seen the remains of an Iron Age fort. The ramparts and ditches can be seen encircling the top. The falling away of the side of the hill has led to it being called “the Shivering Mountain”. The local tribe who lived here in Iron Age 1500 years before Christ were called the Brigantes.
Winnats Pass: The National Trust owns the pass and Treak Cliff hill to its west. It is very popular with visitors and is one of the most spectacular limestone gorges in the Peak.
Cave Dale: This is a spectacular valley, which can be seen from Castle Hill. It can be entered by walking between two cottages in Bar Gate above the Market Place where a signpost shows the beginning of the Limestone Way to Matlock.