Peak District Kids writer: Ashley Baker, from We are the Bakers
Greeted by the largest cave opening in the UK, Peak Cavern, or more commonly known as The Devil’s Arse, features high on the list of things to do in Castleton. But is somewhere known as ‘The Devil’s Arse’ a good Peak District attraction for kids? It’s definitely a good rainy day activity as it’s doesn’t matter if it’s raining when we you’re underground!
Peak Cavern stands out from the many other show caves in Castleton as this cave is almost entirely natural, carved out by melting glacier waters. The only man-made addition is a small access tunnel that was blasted so Queen Victoria did not have to lie back on a boat to gain access to the deep show caves.
Just as unique is the history of this cave. Where the other show caves in Castleton (such as Speedwell Cavern) were man made mines, Peak Cavern was home to the rope makers who supplied the mines. Living in tiny homes and working within the cave entrance whilst making extra money from tours must have offered a lifestyle that many others would never experience.
Peak Cavern opening times and ticket prices
Peak Cavern is open from 10am-5pm everyday between April and October and 10am-5pm weekends and school holidays between November and March. Last entry is 4pm, but during peak times the cavern may open later so check the website for more details. Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day the cavern is closed.
Peak Cavern also offers shows from inside the cave entrance including concerts, as well as film nights in partnership the Village Screen Pop Up Cinema.
Ticket prices are £16 per adult and £9 for children aged 5-15 years old, under 5s go free. Discounts are available to group bookings over 15 people. Tickets are booked online via specific time slots.
What to wear to visit Peak Cavern
Past the cave entrance Peak Cavern is a constant 7°C so take warm clothes even if it’s hot outside.
The cavern is completely natural and does flood so it’s best to wear good hiking books as the rocks can be slippery. There are sections of the cavern where you may get dripped one so if you do have one a waterproof jacket will help.
Parking at Peak Cavern
Peak Cavern has its own car park that’s a few minutes walk from the cave entrance. Look for the signs stating ‘The Devils Arse Car Park’ from the main road. Click here for Google Map point. Postcode is S33 8WN .
Parking costs £6 for the day and the machines take cash and card payments. Keep the refund part of your ticket to claim £2 back on parking when entering Peak Cavern.
Although this is a large car park it is also used by visitors to Castleton so during busy times leave plenty of time to find parking.
To get to Peak Cavern from the car park you just follow the signs across the road and alongside the river before following the main path to the entrance.
Are there toilets at Peak Cavern?
There are no toilets at Peak Cavern. You will need to use the ones next to Castleton Visitors Centre, across the road from The Devil’s Arse car park.
Arriving to Peak Cavern
Arriving at Peak Cavern you are greeted with the amazing site of the largest cave entrance in the UK. It is recommended to arrive 10 minutes before the tour is due to start. When at the admissions gate remember to claim your £2 parking refund. You will then wait inside the cave entrance for the rest of the tour and tour guide.
Take this moment to take in the views of the vast cave entrance and grab some photos.
What happens on the Peak Cavern tour
The Peak Cavern tour itself takes around 1 hour and is split in 2 main parts. It’s factual but kept entertaining to keep little ones engaged. Our children wouldn’t stop talking about our tour guide and how funny she was!
The first part of the tour takes place in the main cave entrance. This is where you hear the stories of the people who converted the cave entrance into a village for rope making, and you will also get the chance to enter one of the smallest homes you would ever see. This is then followed by a rope making demonstration where a volunteer is asked to help. The chosen volunteer may even get to keep the rope they help to make; a fantastic souvenir! It’s worth noting this is a physical task for the volunteer and requires someone tall enough to turn the wheel, so young children may not be able to take part.
After the history of the rope makers you are then taken on the second part of the tour, further into the cave system. Interesting and unusual rock formations are pointed out before hearing the reasons why Peak Cavern got the name ‘The Devil’s Arse’.
There is a 30 metre section of the tour where the cave ceiling is very low and you will need to bend down to walk through. You are then greeted by the only man-made section of the cave system known as the Queens Passage; a tunnel that was blasted so that Queen Victoria didn’t need to use the boat.
This tunnel leads to the Great Cave, a vast space inside the cave system that is sure to impress. In this part you get the chance to experience complete darkness as the lights are turned off for around 1 minute. It is worth warning any younger children about this part of the tour so as to ease any worries.
The tour continues through the cave system where you get to see waterfalls, more interesting rock formations, names carved into the walls from Victorian visitors and hear many stories of the Victorian tours, plus how the rope makers took advantage of the cave and the hideouts thieves and highwaymen used.
The tour turns around at The Devil’s Cellar where you can hear the waters running below before making your way back along the exact same route you took into the cavern.
There is a very small gift shop at the exit.
Check out this video from We are the Bakers for more insight into a visit to Peak Cavern with kids.
After your visit to Peak Cavern
For a bite to eat, take your pick from one of the six pubs for lunch, or perhaps make a beeline for The Real Fudge Company.
Alternatively, enjoy a walk up Cave Dale, Winnats Pass, or Mam Tor for some superb views. Our Cave Dale walk takes you right past the entrance to Peak Cavern, as well as providing superb views of Peveril Castle.
For further ideas, check out our guide for things to do in Castleton.