Peak District Boxing Day Walk: Castleton (4 miles)
Visit Castleton at Christmas and you’re in for a real treat: the sight of decorated trees outside every shop combined with the smell of wood fires roaring in local homes gives a very festive feel.
The walk below appears exactly as it does in our book, Peak District Year Round Walks, complete with map, pictures and step-by-step directions. You can even click here to download it and take it with you.
Time this right and you might even be able to combine your visit with one of the carol services in the local caverns that have become a regular festive treat for many. This walk takes you from the village to nearby Hope and back, all the while sticking to low-level paths in case the hills are knee-deep in snow. Castleton has something to offer all year round, but there’s something special about being there on a clear, crisp day in winter.
Terrain: Paths are easy to follow and low lying. There are a couple of roads to negotiate and after heavy rain, some of the paths may become muddy.
How to get there & parking: The A6187 passes through Castleton, which is found to the west of Bamford, beyond Hope. Park in the village’s main car park, close to the visitor centre.
Sat Nav: S33 8WH
Refreshments: There are several coffee shops and tea rooms to enjoy in Castleton, but among the best is Three Roofs Café, opposite the visitor centre and main car park.
1 From the car park, head for the main road and head in the direction of Hope, away from the dramatic hills of Winnats Pass.
2 Just before you leave Castleton, take the path on the right that is signed towards Hope and takes you down a track with limestone walls on each side called The Lane. With the cement works in the distance, you pass a farm where snowdrops grow in winter. Follow the track, with a small river on the left. Go through a gate and follow the path beyond a small wood before the path ventures away from the river into fields linked by stiles and gates; follow the path along this series of fields until you carefully cross the railway line, then pick up the route through the fields once more.
3 The path will bring you out at a road, where you turn left. Look out for the pinfold on your left at this point. Proceed along the road, over a bridge, and you’ll come to the main road through Hope. Cross over the road and turn left, but take the footpath signed for Losehill you’ll soon find on your right that leads between two buildings. This takes you past some houses, turn right at a road and pass Hope Clinic before picking up the path at the other side of the road. Continue following the path for Losehill, which is well signed and takes you across a bridge over the train track. Go through a couple of gates at the other side, press on past the farm and enjoy the views of this huge valley.
4 At the junction of paths, turn left. Follow the signs for Castleton and stick to this path that soon takes you down some steps and across a stream. Continue across the field on the other side and take the concession footpath in the field to the right as you approach Spring House Farm. Join a track for a short distance and then take the path off to the right that is signed for Castleton. As you head over a stream, you’ll see fabulous views of Mam Tor ahead. Branch left when the track comes to a t-junction and you’ll approach Losehill Hall.
5 Follow the track around to the left when you reach Losehill Hall and continue on this route, which will bring you out at the main road in Castleton. Turn right onto it and press on into the centre of Castleton, where the walk set out from. After you’ve finished this circular walk and wind up back in the village, you may like to kick back in one of the charming country pubs and take a look in local shops for specialist Blue John jewellery.
WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR
The pinfold. An animal compound was a feature found in most medieval villages and you’ll find a great example of one just as you’re about to enter Hope. Look for the circular stone structure on your left. It has the appearance of a sheep pen, and that’s pretty much what it was.
Any animals that were found wandering off were rounded up and placed under lock and key in here until their owners came to claim them. To get the animal back, the owner would have to pay a fee that depended on how long the creature had been impounded. Feeding and watering costs were taken into account, along with the fee taken by the person looking after the pinfold. However, if the animal taken into the pinfold was left there for too long and not claimed, it could be sold at market in order to retrieve costs. The pinfold surviving at Hope gives a great insight into life gone by in this rural village.
- Alex Batho