Day 6 – Derwent Vally & Castleton (Thursday June 27)
Back to the Peak District today for some short hikes around the lakes in Derwent Valley and Castleton. They would have been longer walks, but my lower back decided that it was tired of all this traveling and decided to cramp up. We parked at a visitor center and hiked up to the Derwent Dam and along the reservoir. This was one the spots used for flight-testing in preparation for the dam-busting bomb runs during WWII. There were a lot of rhododendrons in bloom around the lake, which I wasn’t expecting. I think of those as native American plants and it turns out that many species were introduced from North Carolina to England! All the reservoirs were low so the lake edges weren’t very interesting. There are many, many hiking trails in this area and I read that 2 million people a year go there to hike! Fortunately it was a grey, mid-week day, so very people were out. We passed by many trail intersections that were unmarked – that’s why their guidebooks are so detailed (turn left at the 4th beech tree after you cross the second stone wall but before the 3rd stream.)
From there we headed to the Hope Valley and Castleton, home of Peveril Castle and many caverns. We had a good lunch (and pints) at Ye Old Cheshire Cheese Inn. We climbed the hill to the castle, and thanks to a light rain, we had the place to ourselves. It’s a medieval castle ruin on a high prominence above the town with great views down into the ‘Secret Valley’ and across to the hills & moors on the other side of the valley. One edge drops straight down to the entrance to ‘Peak Cavern’ also known as ‘The Devil’s Arse.’ I just finished a murder mystery that takes place all around this area and it was neat knowing all the places that were mentioned. Ye Old Cheshire Cheese had a prominent role in the book.
We didn’t have time for any caverns, but walked some of the twisty roads to the entrance. I took a photo of the steep wall coming down from the castle to the stream that issues from the cave and it has some interesting features. Not a great photo, but that book I read had a description of those same rocks.
There is a narrow gorge that leads out of the valley and we drove through there to the top of the moors for views of fog, rocks & sheep. Not a unique view in this area! We headed back to Sheffield and missed our planned road, but found another nice walk to 'Surprise View' - which wasn't very surprising. After the rains the trail was covered in large black slugs like nothing we'd ever seen. Thanks to our missed road we had another evening trying to find our way back into town!