I like national parks. I always try and visit one when I am exploring a new country. National parks are a great way to see gorgeous scenery, rural life and maybe some local wildlife.
The UK is fortunate to have 20 national parks packed onto our small island in the North Atlantic. One of these national parks is called the Peak District National Park. A few weekends ago I visited the Peak District national park with my friend Siân and we had the most wonderful time there.
One sunny day, Siân and I jumped on a very packed train and travelled from Sheffield to the very picturesque village of Castleton. The journey to Hope took around half an hour and we left the industrial city of Sheffield behind us and entered England’s green countryside.
After leaving the train station in Hope, we hopped on a bus for a short journey to Castleton.
Castleton is one of the Peak District’s prettiest villages. The village occupies a unique geographical position situated between the gentle rolling hills of the white peak in the south and the dramatic gritstone dark peak to the north. Castleton has a long history and is mentioned in the Domesday book. As you would expect with the name ‘Castleton’ there is a castle in Castleton. The ruins of the 11th century Peveril Castle overlook the town.
Siân and I walked around pretty Castleton in the shadow of Peveril castle. I loved the grey stone buildings juxtaposed against the Himalayan blue sky and vibrant colours of spring flowers.
It was peaceful here. A lady wearing glasses sat outside her house, reading in the sunshine. Another middle-aged couple were enjoying a hot cup of tea in their front garden. There was the gentle sound of running water passing under an old bridge. Sian exclaimed ‘It’s like we are on holiday!” It certainly was.
After wandering around the village, we searched for a nice walk across the fields. We passed a man walking down a steep hill. He was a hardy fellow wearing a checked shirt and a scrabbly stubble chin. He was accompanied by a friendly dog. I asked him how we could see the castle and enjoy a walk. The walker proclaimed that it is a waste of money to pay to see the ruins and that the best views of the castle were from Cavedale. Siân and I both looked at each other. Neither of us had any idea of where there was. The man sensed our bewilderment and described the best way to get there.
Whilst he had mentioned we could walk up the steep hillside he had just descended from, there was another, easier route from the marketplace. Siân is not a fan of steep slopes and we opted for the easier path and walked back through the village. We spoke to the lady reading in the sun who confirmed we were heading in the right direction. Soon after we found the entrance to Cavedale. I was very happy that the rugged man had sent us here!
Siân and I entered into the valley. 50m cliffs rose above us either side of the path. It was a beautiful site to behold. We had stepped onto the Limestone Way which starts in Castleton and continues 80 kilometres towards Rochester, Staffordshire. Siân and I did not venture all the way to Rochester. Instead, we walked a little way along this path in order to admire the castle, spot little caves and gasp in awe at this very pretty valley.
Even the village seemed far away now as we were immersed in this beautiful valley in the heart of the Peak district. No wonder that films such as The Other Boleyn Girl and the Princess Diaries have been filmed here. There was an air of timelessness in Cavedale.
I decided to climb a little way up to the castle up the steep cliffside. It was easier to ascend than descend. As I looked back and saw Siân as a small speck down below I gulped at how steep the way back down would be!
I tentatively took in my surroundings, careful of my footing. From here I had a Birdseye view of Castledale. I could see more details of the castle ruins. It was clear why the position for the castle had been chosen. This steep hillside provided excellent natural defence. The elevated position across the landscape would have also have been a fantastic look out for the Normans. Luckily no one was trying to invade Peveril castle today, there was just a girl with a bright orange rucksack who was trying to figure out the safest way back down the cliff side…
I slowly shuffled down the steepest part until I dared stand up and gingerly attempt to walk down. Siân was watching at the bottom laughing, knowing that she had made the right decision not to join me. I would not have attempted that steep climb on a wet day or straight after one!
After we had finished taking many photos we left magnificent Cavedale. I hope I can return one day and venture along the Limestone path once more.
Back in the village, we once again wandered around. We stopped in a little bakery near the bus station. We ventured inside as I had spotted a sign advertising vegan goods. The friendly woman inside gave Siân and I free tasters of a mint chocolate vegan cookie. Oh, it was delectable! I bought one, after all, I should support the vegan cause and show that there is demand for such goods. Siân and I sat at the bus stop, allowing our legs to rest for a moment whilst I nibbled on my yummy cookie. Siân looked up the train times and we realised we could probably walk back to Hope and catch the next train. It was a two-mile walk next to a stream. That sounded lovely we thought.
The Walk from Castleton to Hope
We basked (and burnt slightly!) in the spring sunshine as we walked along Peakshole water towards the village of Hope. Siân and I happily chatted away as we strolled through fields of golden buttercups and snow-white daisies. We saw lambs skipping merrily in the fields. They were obviously also enjoying the sunny weather!
The path to Hope was flat except for the couple of stiles we had to climb over. We passed many walkers and their dogs as well as old farmhouses. It was a very, very pleasant walk.
In Hope, we saw motorcyclists and cyclists enjoying a break in the sunshine before moving on to their next destination. The impressive Hope church was surrounded by yellow daffodils, swaying slightly in the wind.
We arrived at the train station ten minutes before our train was due. Our feet were aching slightly, but we were smiling as we both agreed on what a nice day we had had!
I would like to thank Sian for organising everything and for a wonderful day out!
Worth a visit?
Castleton, the Peak District and the county of Derbyshire are well worth a visit. Indeed, in the words of Jane Austen, whose characters in Pride & Prejudice agree that “there is no finer county in England than Derbyshire”.
Would you like to visit Castleton?