Along with Bakewell, Castleton is one of the most visited towns in the Peak District and makes for a lovely family day out. Take in the epic views from Mam Tor, or venture deep into the limestone caves, or just wander around this charming Peak District village. It’s also a good place to base yourself for a family holiday in the Peak District as there are a good range of accommodation options available, from the YHA, a B&B in a pub, or a quaint holiday cottage.
If you’re looking for things to do in Castleton with kids (or without!), here are our top suggestions.
1. Hike up Mam Tor
Mam Tor, meaning ‘Mother Hill’, is a 517 metre high hill overlooking Castleton and is one of the most popular walks in the Peak District. The views from the top are spectacular, although arrive early during school holidays and weekends to avoid the crowds.
Follow the classic Mam Tor loop walk that takes in Great Ridge, Hollins Cross, and Broken Road, with an optional detour to Lose Hill. However, you don’t actually need to endure a long walk to get to the summit of Mam Tor. Read our quick and easy way to get to Mam Tor (there’s a car park just 550 metres away).
2. Venture deep into the Castleton Caves
The caverns and caves around Castleton are fascinating and unique places to visit, with their amazing rock formations, rare stones and amazing atmospheres. They are also a good option for a rainy day activity for visiting the Peak District with kids as you are underground and the weather doesn’t matter! Although do wrap up warm for the caves and wear footwear with a good tread, as it does get rather chilly down there even in the height of summer.
In addition to those at The Heights of Abraham near Matlock, the caves around Castleton are some of the best show caverns in the country, and is home to:
In the latter two, you will find deposits of the rare Blue John stone. And fun fact for the kids – Peak Cavern is also known as The Devil’s Arse, so called because of the flatulent-sounding noises from inside the cave when flood water is draining away!
But if you asked us which is the best Cavern in Castleton, I’d have to say have to say Speedwell Cavern. Visitors descend 105 steps from the almost hidden cave entrance, down to an underground canal to board a boat to take you deeper into the cave system.
If you are visiting the Peak District at Christmas, make sure you book tickets for Carols in Candlelight at Treak Cliff Cavern. It’s a fantastically festive event.
3. Climb up Secret Valley by Peveril Castle
Mentioned in the Domesday survey, Peveril Castle is one of England’s earliest Norman fortresses and stands high over the town of Castleton. You can’t actually go in to the castle, but climb up the rocky path to the left (called Secret Valley) for breathtaking views across the Hope Valley and over to Mam Tor. It’s a steep but short climb, but totally worth it.
The castle was built by William Peveril, son of William the Conqueror in 1086. The keep was built in 1176 by Henry II to whom Peveril forfeited his estates. It attained its greatest importance during the reign of King Edward I, and fell into decline after 1400. The castle today belongs to the Duchy of Lancaster, and is in the custody of English Heritage.
4. Snap pictures of Winnat’s Pass
Winnats Pass, whether it be the dramatic view from the top or the winding road below, has to be of one the most photogenic parts of the Peak District. It’s a spectacular spectacular limestone gorge and there are numerous footpaths around it to appreciate the view. Do not be tempted to climb the sides of the pass unless you are an experienced climber, as it can be dangerous. Instead head to the footpath at Winnats Head Farm.
5. Eat handmade fudge
Fancy some homemade, melt-in-the-mouth fudge? Head to The Real Fudge Company on the main road who specialise in traditional fudge in over fifty different flavours. They also make and sell their own toffee and marzipan and have a huge range of old-fashioned sweets sold from jars and drinks sold from swing top bottles. The perfect treat for the kids after a long hike!
6. Visit the free museum and information centre
The Castleton Museum, which is housed at Castleton Visitor Centre, is a showcase for the history of Castleton and the surrounding area. It’s a good option for a rainy day in the Peak District. There are displays featuring the archaeology and geology, the past industries and inhabitants, as well as its significance as a Norman fortified town. Learn about the history of what happened to Castleton during the world wars, see the various tools and clothing used over the centuries, and even see a carved head dating from 1,000 BC which is believed to represent a god worshipped by Iron Age people.