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Visiting TREAK CLIFF CAVERN, Castleton, with kids

Visiting TREAK CLIFF CAVERN, Castleton, with kids

For many years, the pretty Peak District village of Castleton has been known for the abundance of caves on its doorstep. Located a short drive (or 15 minute walk) from the village centre, Treak Cliff Cavern is one of only two places in the area where the Blue John mineral is still excavated and it makes for an excellent activity, especially when the Peak District weather is misbehaving.

Indeed, Treak Cliff Cavern is arguably the most impressive show cave in Castleton (there are four altogether) and one of our top recommended rainy day activities for the Peak District.

Treak Cliff Cavern opening times and ticket prices

It’s recommended to buy your tickets in advance via the website which will give you a timeslot to start your self-guided audio tour. Tickets cost:

  • £14.50 for adults
  • £11.50 for students
  • £8:00 for children aged 5-17
  • Free for children aged under 4

Family tickets are available, £42 for two adults and two children, £48 for a two adults and three children.

What to wear for your Treak Cliff Cavern visit

It’s a consistent 11 degrees underground, regardless of the temperature outside. Keep this is mind if you’re visiting in the hot summer months as you’ll feel the difference. There’s also a fairly frequent drip from the cave roof which has a habit of sneaking down your neck. Try to bring waterproof coats to stay dry and warm.

The cave floor is surprisingly secure underfoot, with a slip proof matting throughout, but it’s still best to wear sturdy shoes if possible (definitely cover your toes at least) as there are (of course) rocks close to the walkway, as well as some steps to climb.

The approach from the car park to the entrance point is also steep and exposed and is easier in sturdy footwear.

Parking at Treak Cliff Cavern

There are plenty of parking spaces reserved for visitors along the main road underneath the visitors centre from where a set of steps lead steeply up the hill.

If these spaces are all taken, there’s also free public parking at the side of the road (just make sure you’re parking in a legal space as this area can get busy during peak times and is patrolled by parking wardens).

Are there toilets at Treak Cliff Cavern?

At the top of the steps to the side of the visitors centre, you’ll find some public toilets set into the hillside.

Arriving to Treak Cliff Cavern

From the car parking area, it’s a steep but well-maintained ascent up to the visitor’s centre and entrance. On a clear day, you’ll also get excellent views out to Mam Tor, Win Hill, Lose Hill and beyond.

Prepare yourselves for quite a steep climb up the steps, it’ll take about five or ten minutes, depending on your fitness levels and how often you stop to take in the view.

Once you reach the top, you’ll find a well-organised visitor’s centre with a seating area, shop, reception and small café selling simple snacks and drinks. There’s also some aforementioned toilets off to the right. Interestingly, all the water on site is pumped in from the caves as the building aren’t connected to the mains water supply!

The audio guide

A free audio guide is available via an app; try to download in advance if you can in case of any connection issues although free Wi-Fi is available onsite.

Split into ten sections, the audio guide is narrated by Vicky Turner, a third-generation member of the Harrison family who have operated the caves since the 1940’s. The audio guide is excellent, giving enough information about the caves and Blue John without getting too technical or scientific.

Most groups were listening on their phone’s speaker, but you might want to bring some headphones to make it easier to hear. Each section is marked via a purple sign in the cave, so it’s easy to set your own pace and never get lost.

The pre-paid activity books for kids

We pre-paid (£2.50) for the activity book for kids when we bought tickets online, assuming it was to be used on the tour itself. In reality, it’s not really intended for that, instead offering some simple but fun activities for younger kids after the tour finishes.

We were a bit surprised that it was offered as part of the tour ticket price in that case, although the staff were happy to refund us and allow us to use the £5 credit in the gift shop. By all means, buy the activity pack but keep in mind it’s not of much use during the tour itself.

Instead, there are three free activity sheets available (aimed at under 6’s, 6-10 yrs, 11+) which might be fun for the kids to follow. Although to be honest, we only used them for a few minutes before putting them into our bags; the boys were really enjoying the tour and it wasn’t one of those occasions where we needed to find something to distract them.

What to expect on your Treak Cliff Cavern tour

We’ve visited a few show caves in the Peak District and Treak Cliff Cavern was the most impressive one we’ve seen. From the moment you step through the entrance door and begin the descent into the cave system, it’s a magical feeling.

With the audio tour playing, your visit is split nicely into ten different sections, with enough time and space to stop and take in the incredible rock formations around you. The tour is self-guided and the staff try to spread the tour groups apart so you don’t disturb each other, although we did all start to bunch-up towards the end.

The scale of the cave is most impressive, with the church-like caves rising above you as you ascend and descend the steps linking the different areas. In a few places, you can stop and spot the fossils trapped in the ceiling above your heads, or make out the shapes and shadows of the limestone.

Like all kids, our boys can be hit-and-miss with tours and museums, sometimes loving them and other times not so much. But Treak Cliff Cavern was a huge success with our family, the boys were constantly asking to stay longer and look around some more.

Also, because the visitor numbers are always limited, you’re guaranteed to avoid the worse of the crowds which can affect the Peak District at peak times of the year.

Gift shop and café

There’s a very cute gift shop on site, selling a huge array of gems and rocks, ranging in price from £1 to £300+. There’s something for everyone and all budgets, the boys picked up a couple of souvenirs from their visit. You’ll also find pens, pencils, colouring books etc for the younger visitors.

The ‘café in the wall’ is small and more pitched as a quick fuel-stop than somewhere to sit and have a proper meal. If you just need a chocolate bar or cup of tea, it’ll be welcome, otherwise save yourselves for numerous pubs in Castleton.

After you visit to Treak Cliff Cavern

In the village-centre of Castleton, 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.

Check out our guide to Castleton for more information.

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