Ah Castleton, the jewel in the Hope Valley’s crown - literally. In the 11th century it was a major market town and is known now as ‘Gem of the Peaks’ largely because of the semi-precious mineral, Blue John, which was found here. Can I suggest you put aside a day, there’s so much to see and do? A good place to start is English Heritage’s Peveril Castle. An imposing, atmospheric ruin, it stands high above the village flanked by the steep sides of Cavedale rendering it pretty impregnable – the views across the Hope Valley are stupendous. Mentioned in the Domesday Book it’s one of the country’s earliest Norman Fortresses, built by Henry II in 1176. As for Blue John, it was first found in Treak Cliff Cavern in 1750, and is still mined today. There are four caverns, all visitable, all really interesting in different ways. Guided tours take in stalactites and stalagmites and in Speedwell Cavern you’ll go on a boat through dark narrow tunnels – eerie and a little bit scary but huge fun. There are great walks to be done too; park in the pay & display behind the brilliant Visitor Centre, pick up a couple of maps and strike out. Castleton’s positioned between the gritstone plateau of the Dark Peak and the softer limestone landscape of the Light Peak; you can do one mile or ten depending on your energy levels.
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