It’s what the Peak District is all about! The mass protests of the 1930s on the North Derbyshire moorlands to the west of Sheffield was one of the factors that led to the establishment of the Peak District National Park in 1951. The Peak District’s dramatic and varied scenery (White Peak limestone farm land and Dark Peak gritstone moors) offers thousands of routes to explore. The two OS Explorer Maps OL1 (Dark Peak) and OL24 (White Peak) cover the entire area, copies of which are in both cottages. (But please leave for the next guests!)
You can follow either national or local trails with the 431km Pennine Way starting just over the hill from Spring House Farm in Edale and crossing Kinder Scout, or you can simply take advantage of the 524 sq km of open access land and 3005 km of rights of way that the area offers.
Spring House Farm and it’s cottages sit on the route of one of the areas best loved and most iconic walks, The Mam Tor – Lose Hill route. Other great walks from your doorstep at Spring House Farm are Win Hill, the Derwent Valley, Kinder Scout and Cave Dale.
Easier routes locally are are the paths on the disused railway lines of the Monsal Trail (between Bakewell and Buxton); the Tissington Trail (between Buxton and Ashbourne), both in the White Peak limestone area and the Longdendale Trail in the Dark Peak.
Castleton’s Caves and Mines
The Peak District is riddled with cave systems particularly in the Limestone White Peak. That area also has may lead mines including Castleton’s Speedwell Cavern, a lead mine through which you travel by boat (lead mining was an important economic feature of the area from Roman times until). For those interested in the historic lead mining industry the Magpie Mine at Sheldon, near Ashford-in-the-Water is worth a visit too.
A slightly more glamourous ore is Blue John. It is a rather lovely semi precious stone peculiar to Derbyshire. There are two Blue John mines just west of Castleton, Treak Cavern and the Blue John Mine. Castleton’s gift shops are full of tickets and items of jewellery made from this stone.
The most popular cave to explore in Castleton is the Peak Cavern (or Devil’s Arse!). Located on the edge of the village this is a spectacular large natural limestone cave. It occasional hosts concerts and other events.
The Peak District has some of the most challenging and popular rock climbing routes in Europe including Stanage Edge, near Hathersage (20 mins away) and The Roaches in the Staffordshire Moorlands (45 mins away).
Many world class climbers live in the area, sharpening their skills on challenging cliffs, edges and boulders . Regardless of whether you are an enthusiastic beginner or a world class climber, there are plenty of crags to discover for adventurers at all levels.
Caving & Potholing
A highly popular activity in the Peak District, Castleton is home to the largest and highest natural cavern in the UK, the Titan Cave, discovered by local potholer Dave Nixon in 2000. Novices do need an experienced guide to access the cave and prior experience of caving and potholing is recommended. Contact Dave Nixon on 01298 872622 / 07775 518626 and see www.peakspeedwell.info for more information
In addition there are a number of activity centres in the Peak District which offer climbing, pot holing and caving with a qualified instructor. These centres will also provide all of the necessary waterproof and safety equipment. All you need provide are warm clothes! Please look at www.gritstoneadventures.co.uk and www.intotheblue.co.uk for details on instruction and courses.
If walking up a hill isn’t gruelling enough why not run up it – competitively! Nearly every Well Dressing and village Wakes Week or Gala is accompanied by a fell race. These are shorter and less strenuous than some of the Iron Man type fell races and, I suspect, a lot more fun. Entries are usually taken on the day locally on occasions such as Hope Wakes Week (Wed 27 June 2018) and Hathersage Gala (Mon 9 July 2018)
The Fell Runners Association has a calendar of all of the UK’s races.