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The day following our walk at Ilam we had arranged to meet Alice and Elinor at Castleton in Derbyshire.

Castleton is a pretty village and a great place to stay if you want to walk in the hills or visit the mines.  For some years we stayed at a site just outside the village every Whitsun half-term holiday but gave up eventually because we got tired of the crowds of people everywhere.  Looking at the numbers of visitors when we went there this August, it seems that there are fewer visitors in the later summer than earlier in the year.

Alice and Elinor took the bus from Sheffield and arrived ten minutes before us.  We had got delayed by having to make a detour round an accident on the Leek to Buxton road.  We met them in a pub and decided to stay there and have some lunch.

After lunch we wandered through the village and noted all the changes made since we had last visited.  We all agreed that it would be good to climb up to Peveril Castle.  I didn’t manage to take any pictures on my ascent to the castle.  I found it much more tiring than I remembered and in retrospect maybe I shouldn’t have had quite so much for my lunch!  The path zig-zags up the steep climb from Castleton and we got very hot in the bright sunshine.  Alice sped up the path before us; she lives in a very hilly city and is used to walking everywhere.  Eventually we got to the entrance to the castle which is through the remains of one of the gatehouses built in the 12th century.  We then entered the main courtyard of the castle which is now a large lawn.  Originally this space had many buildings in it; a great hall, a kitchen, perhaps guest halls, servants and retainers homes,  store sheds, stables and the like.  It is possible to see the outline of some of these long-demolished buildings.


The keep at Peveril Castle with the steep lawn which is all that is left of the castle.


Looking down the courtyard to the remains of the curtain wall and beyond to the surrounding Peak District hills.  Mam Tor is the peak to the left of centre.

The curtain wall which surrounded the courtyard was constructed early on in Norman times.  It was built by the Peverils and apparently includes Roman tiles probably taken from the ruins of the Roman fort at Navio (Brough).


The curtain wall and gatehouse.

William the Conqueror’s supposedly illegitimate son William Peverel was a great favourite with the Conqueror and after the conquest he was granted the Royal Manors of the Peak.  In this way he became the administrator of the Royal Forest of the Peak in Castleton on behalf of the Conqueror.  He built a castle in 1080 on this site which is naturally strategically strong; it is quite difficult to get to and also easy to defend.  It was originally built of wood but after some years it was thought expedient to replace it with a stone structure and this was done in about 1175 and the remains of this later building is what is seen today.


Looking over the curtain wall to Castleton below


One of the views from the courtyard


An information board at the castle


Mam Tor




The entrance to the Keep


The Keep

The Keep was originally 60′ high and was faced with fine gritstone blocks.  These can still be seen on the south and east sides of the building.  You can see them at the top of the Keep and around the lower window in the photo above.


Harebells (Campanua rotundifolia) and what looks like Wild Marjoram (Origanum vulgare) growing in the courtyard.  There are a couple of other plants here that I can’t ID.  I wish I had looked more carefully at the time!


Looking down into Cavedale at the rear of the castle. Originally the approach to the castle was from this side with a bridge across a moat.




Inside the Keep


Inside the Keep

When the castle was rebuilt in stone in 1175/6 this Keep with round-headed windows was added.  The Keep was never meant to be lived in but was the administrative centre of the castle and would have been a place of refuge if ever the curtain wall was breached.


A drawing of what the Keep was thought to look like when it was built

In the 17th century the castle was considered too uncomfortable to live in and all the apartments except the Keep were demolished.  The Keep was retained to serve as a courthouse.  From then on until the early 19th century the place was left unoccupied and it quickly deteriorated.  Repairs and reconstruction work was carried out by the Duchy of Lancaster in the early 1800s who retained the castle until it was taken on by English Heritage.

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Maidenhair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes)


More Wild Marjoram


A model showing what the castle was supposed to look like when newly built


From another angle

We spent a most enjoyable afternoon together.  Eventually it was time for the girls to catch their bus back to Sheffield.  Richard and I then drove back to Leek, stopping briefly just outside Castleton at the top of Whinnat’s Pass to take the following photograph.


The entrance to Speedwell Cavern 

Thanks for visiting!