Castleton is home to some of Britain's most spectacular showcaves. Four showcaves are open to the public in Castleton and a regular shuttle bus service scoots between Edale and Hope stations and from Castleton bus station direct to the Castleton Caves. Alternatively all the Castleton Caves are within easy walking distance of Castleton village centre.
Each of the Castleton Caves including Peak Cavern, Speedwell Cavern, Blue John Cavern and Teak Cliff Cavern contain spectacular rock formations from stalagmite formations resembling frozen waterfalls to subterranean lakes and mighty chambers with remarkable acoustics. The famous Castleton Blue John Stone deposits can be seen at Treak Cliff Cavern and Blue John Cavern. At Speedwell Cavern visitors board a boat which winds down canal tunnels emerging at the great Bottomless Pit subterranean lake.
The famously named Devil's Arse, the Peak Cavern in Castleton is where to see demonstrations of traditional rope making and the remains of an ancient village as well as witness the remarkable acoustics of the Orchestral Gallery in the Great Cave which is beautifully lit with fibre-optic lighting.
Peak Cavern in Castleton, where you shouldn't forget to ask your guide why it's called the Devil's Arse!, is the closest of the four caverns to Castleton village centre. Peak Cavern's entrance chamber, the largest cave entrance in the British Isles, sits close to the Peveril Castle entrance behind The Stones.
As you move in to the entrance you'll see the fascinating remains of an ancient village. Here a whole community worked on making ropes used in the local lead mines around Castleton. Visitors then move into the the deep heart of the cavern's Chambers through the Lumbago Walk accompanied by the remarkable acoustics of the Orchestral Gallery in the Great Cave. The Chambers of Peak Cavern are spectacularly lit with fibre-optic lighting systems. These enable visitors to really appreciate the natural beauty of the stalactite and flowstone formations. Other highlights at Peak Cavern include the cascade of water at Roger Rain's House and in the Devil's Cellar you can hear the flowing source of the river Styx.
Guided tours of Peak Cavern in Castleton last for about an hour and run every hour daily from April to October and at weekends every hour from November to March. Tours include demonstrations of the cavern's famous rope making. Special events like Christmas Carol Concerts, Murder Mystery Evenings and Halloween events feature at Peaks Cavern through the year. The Tideswell Male Voice Choir regularly perform within Peak Cavern which, combined with the great accoustics of the Great Cave, is not to be missed. See the Peak Cavern website for forthcoming dates. Money saving joint tickets for entrance to both Peak Cavern and nearby Speedwell Cavern are also available.
Speedwell Cavern sits just to the west of Castleton village and Peak Cavern at the foot of stunning Winnats Pass. This Castleton Cave is part of a 13 mile network of cave tunnels and underground rivers around Castleton which were mined in the 18th and 19th centuries for lead ore. At Speedwell Castleton Cave you view the magnficient world of the underground cave by boat along an underground canal after descending 105 steps from the almost hidden cave entrance.
Once onboard the boat visitors pass through the workings of a 200 year old lead mine. The boat travels around 200 metres below the surface of the hill along canal tunnels before emerging at the spectacular large cavern which contains a subterranean lake known as the Bottomless Pit.
New sections of the Speedwell cave system are still being discovered by pot holders today. The famous Titan cave was discovered in the Speedwell cave system in 1999. This cave is the tallest in Britain at 145m high and sits around 500m to the south of the Bottomless Pit subterranean lake at Speedwell.
A great gift shop is onsite at Speedwell Cavern which sells the famous Blue John Stone jewellery and other gifts. Speedwell also boasts three gift shops situated in Castleton village centre including the Greystones Gift Shop, Toll Bar Gift Shop and Harrison & Harrison Jewellers. Joint discount entrance tickets are available for combined entry to Speedwell and Peak Cavern showcaves. Speedwell's opening times are the same as Peak Cavern. Find out more via the Speedwell Cavern website.
Treak Cliff Cavern, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, is located just outside Castleton village en-route to Mam Tor. At the Treak Cliff Cavern visitors can see spectacular deposits of the beautiful Fluorspar Blue John Stone which has been mined here for generations. The stone takes its name from the French 'bleu et jaune', the blue and yellow stone. This is truly one of Britain's most beautiful natural stones and when worked into jewellery and ornaments is spectacular. The onsite Gift Shop at Treak Cliff Cavern sells a wide selection of Blue John Stone jewellery and ornaments and the tea and coffee served here is made from water actually collected from inside the cavern. The Blue John Stone Gift Shop in Castleton village centre also sell a range of Blue John Stone jewellery and gifts.
Guided tours of Treak Cliff Cavern dig deep into the story of how miners in the 1750s dug tunnels here with basic tools to reach the Blue John Stone deposits. Visitors can see the veins of Blue John Stone deposits on the cave's roof. Fossils are here too in the limestone rock. The tour takes you deep into Treak Cliff's cave system through the Witch's Cave where there are rich deposits of Blue John Stone. Highlights include the spectacular multi-coloured flowstone on the walls of Aladdin's Cave and the stalactites and stalagmites around Fairyland and Dream Cave. Your guide will point out the most famous rock formation at Treak Cliff, 'The Stork' in the shape of a stork standing on one leg.
A range of special events take place at Treak Cliff Cavern throughout the year including activity workshops for kids where you can 'polish your own Blue John Stone'. Carols by Candlelight also take place in the caves at Christmas.
Treak Cliff Cavern is open all year round daily (weather permitting). See the Treak Cliff Cavern website for up-to-date opening times.
The last of the great four Castleton Showcaves is the Blue John Cavern which sits just beyond Treak Cliff Cavern. Treak Cliff and Blue John Caverns are the two famous Blue John Stone caves in Castleton. Blue John Stone has been mined here at the Blue John Cavern for centuries. This stunning mineral is still mined here today during winter and the best solid and attractive pieces are used to make the gold and silver set jewellery as well as ornaments like bowls, eggs and tazzas on sale in craft and jewellery shops in Castleton village including The Original Blue John Craft Shop associated with the Blue John Cavern. The Blue John Cavern is particularly special because it is famously home to eight out of fourteen known varieties of Blue John Stone.
Tours of Blue John Cavern commence via a short flight of steps which lead to a network of spectacular caverns. The Bull Beef working has produced some of the best and biggest pieces of Blue John Stone mined here. Visitors move through the breathtaking dome shaped Grand Crystallised Cavern and the Waterfall Cavern where one whole side of the cavern is covered with stalagmite formations which, like the Frozen Waterfall at Buxton's Poole's Cavern, resembles a frozen waterfall. Other highlights include Lord Mulgrave's Dining Room, a circular shaped formation formed by the meeting of two underground rivers which created a whirlpool. The tour culminates at the 200 foot high Varigated Cavern.
Free car and coach parking sits close to the Blue John Cavern which offers family tickets and is open all year round 9.30am to 5.30pm in summer and 9.30 until dusk in winter. Closed on Christmas Day.