8 Amazing Things To Do In Castleton With Kids (A Locals Guide)

Castleton is a gem of a destination in the heart of the Peak District. This picturesque village is tucked away in one of the most enchanting parts of the country and is perfect for a family getaway. There are so many things to do in Castleton with kids that will ignite the imagination of the whole family.

From wandering its charming old streets, hiking over Mam Torr, experiencing “deep time” in its beautiful caves, to guarding the walls of Peveril Castle, there is enough to do here to fill a great family day out or even an entire weekend. We are lucky enough to live a short drive away from Castleton and have spent many happy hours as a family exploring all this beautiful village has to offer. 

Things To Do In Castleton With Kids – Getting There

Positioned almost exactly halfway between Sheffield and Manchester, Castleton is an easy drive from both. While it’s easily accessible by car from both cities, when driving from Manchester, be prepared for the scenic but steep Winnats Pass. This stretch of road is shared with free-range sheep, exhausted cyclists, and walkers who don’t always have their dogs under control.

For parking in Castleton, you have several options. You can pay to park at the Visitor Centre car park (£6 for up to 10 hours) or at the Peak Cavern Car Park (£6 for the day with £2 off your ticket when entering Peak Cavern)

If you don’t mind a short walk, there is free parking as you head up towards Treak Cliff Cavern and the broken road (check here for a location), but this fills up very quickly, so get there early if you want a space. 

For such a popular destination, public transport to Castleton is poor. The nearest station is in Hope, which is well-connected from Manchester Picadilly and Sheffield. However, it is a 50-minute walk from there to the middle of Castleton, which may be a bit much for younger children. Alternatively, the 272 bus offers a 6-minute ride up the Hope Valley but has an infrequent schedule, only running every couple of hours. 

One of the best things to do in Castleton with kids - a walk up Mam Torr!
Georgia and Eva at the top of Mam Torr looking towards Kinder Scout

Things To Do In Castleton With Kids – Best Places to Eat and Drink

Being such a popular destination means there is no shortage of places to grab a snack, sandwich or a full meal. 

Our favourite for lunch is Three Roofs Cafe, which has a great selection of home-cooked soups, sandwiches, and artisan baguettes. The popular place is also quite small, so you may struggle to get seated inside, but it is the perfect spot for lunch. 

If you just want a great cup of coffee and maybe a sweet treat, then Castleton Coffee is one of the best in the Hope Valley. This new coffee shop also has its own range of coffee blends, so you can pick up a bag or two to take home with you. 

Finally, for a full meal, you have the Bulls Head or The George. The Bulls Head is a Robinson’s pub, so you know it will be reliably average food and beer. The George, however, is a proper walkers pub with hearty food, open fires and local character. 

Finally, if like us you love bringing a picnic on a day trip, there are some great spots to eat. We have thrown the blanket down at Pevril Castle and enjoyed the amazing views (although it does mean carrying the food up there!) as well as setting up near the broken road, which has a panoramic view of the Hope Valley and is easily accessible. 

If you want somewhere to sit for a picnic, there are benches at Castleton Visitor Centre, although our favourite spot is just by the War Memorial, where there is a gorgeous bench that circles and old Oak tree.

The Doughnuts at Castleton Coffee really are amazing!

If you are planning to make a weekend or more of your trip to the Peak District, check out our accommodation guides: Peak District Cottages: The Best Family-Friendly Accommodation in the High Peak and The Best Peak District Hotels with Children.

If you are planning to make a weekend or more of your trip to the Peak District, check out our accommodation guides:

Peak District Cottages: The Best Family-Friendly Accommodation in the High Peak


The Best Peak District Hotels with Children.

Enjoy an Incredible Family Walk 

While you might not consider your family avid walkers, the short route from Castleton to Mam Tor is a must-do. I don’t think there is another walk in the country that takes in so much in such a short time. In just a couple of miles, you will see a tumbled-down old road, the site of an Iron Age fortress, and one of the most beautiful ridges to walk along in the country.

One of the best things to do in Castleton with kids - explore the old road.
Georgia and Eva explore the broken-down road with their friends.

The shortest loop you can do is just 2.5 miles and starts here over land managed by The National Trust. You begin with a modest climb to the top of Mam Torr, travel along the ridge overlooking the gorgeous Edale Valley and Kinder Scout, and then walk back up the broken road. It should take, with a fair wind, about an hour and 20 minutes to do. This route also has the advantage of cutting the hill climb into two halves. 

Walk 1

If you want to do a bit further, you can do a 3.5-mile loop starting closer to Castleton. This route does the Mam Torr climb in one go as is probably better suited to older kids. 

Walk 2

Finally, for the super adventurous children, you can do the entire ridge down to Loose Hill. This route is just short of seven miles and is an absolute classic. Although it does have one good hill climb, it has some long flat stretches as well.  

Walk 3

You know your kids and what they will enjoy, so pick what you think is best for them. Sadly, none of the routes are pram-suitable, but when Eva was still young, we did the shorter loop with her on a carrier on Adrian’s back. 

A teeny, tiny, well-wrapped-up Eva!

Guard The Ramparts at Pevril Castle

Perched high above Castleton, Peveril Castle is a remarkable Norman-era fortress.

Cunningly located to discourage attacks and sieges, the castle itself was built by William Peverel, the son of William the Conqueror, in the 11th century. Named in the Domesday Book as ‘William Peveril’s castle of Pechesers’ (Pechesers literally paraphrases as “Peaks Arse”), it remained an important linchpin in enforcing royal authority until the 1400s, when it fell into disrepair. 

The walk up to the castle is a steep but short one. Technically, you could drag a pram up it, but be ready for a good workout on your calves if you do.

The actual castle itself is not too extensive, and you very quickly get a sense of what life would have been like there 700 years ago. There is not enough there to fill a full day by any means, but will certainly make an hour or so diversion. As I mentioned above, the stunning views over the quaint village make it a great spot for a picnic if you can carry everything up there! 

The only drawback is the cost; for non-English Heritage members, a family ticket (2 adults, 3 children) is priced at £21.50, which some may find a bit steep for the short experience.

Cousin Oscar officially gave up on the walk up to Pevril Castle!

Experience “Deep Time” in Castleton’s Caverns

Castleton boasts an incredible selection of caverns to explore, each a unique underground wonder. What sets these caverns apart, besides their breathtaking beauty, is the profound sense of time they exude. As you wander through these ancient formations, you’ll encounter fossilized coral from a time when these peaks were submerged beneath a tropical ocean. Stalactites, growing at a rate of just 10cm per millennium, invite you to contemplate the incomprehensible stretch of time it has taken for them to form. 

Is it worth visiting more than one cavern in a day? Honestly, probably not unless you have a family member especially interested in geology. So which one to visit? Well, we have visited them all more than once over the years, so here is a quick summary so you can make an informed choice.

A small word of caution: all the caves maintain a chilly 9°C temperature inside and can be slippery in places, so warm layers and sturdy shoes are a must.

Treak Cliff Cavern

Cost: Family Ticket (2 Adults 2 Children) £42.00

Treak Cliff Cavern is probably the smallest of the cave systems, and you can explore it all in less than an hour. It’s a self-guided exploration, and you can enhance your visit with an informative app with pre-recorded explanations of the features.

Highlights include some unique formations like The Severn Dwarfs and the Aladdin’s Cave flowstone near the start of your journey. Also, it has some incredible examples of how the local Blue John Stone is mined. 

The cavern is dog friendly, there is Free Wi-Fi, a cafe, a gift shop, a small museum, and toilet facilities available. Probably the most physically challenging part of the visit is the walk up to the entrance from the car park below! 

The girls with their cousins in Treak Cliff Cavern

Peak Cavern, AKA “The Devil’s Arse”

Cost: Adults £18.75, Children £11

The history behind the name of this cavern provides a hilarious glimpse into the British psyche.  Known for centuries as “The Devil’s Arse” (and called as such in the Domesday Book) because of the flatulent sounds caused by a river running through its depths, it underwent a name change in 1880 to avoid causing famous prude Queen Victoria any offence when she visited. Surprisingly, this decision led to a dramatic drop in visitor numbers, and the response was so unfavourable that it had to be swiftly reversed. It appears that the British public holds a special affinity for cheeky place names!

Peak Cavern‘s entrance is the most visually impressive of the caves. It has a magnificent, naturally occurring cavern entrance, which is the largest in the UK. The cave was once home to rope makers who supported the local lead mining industry but now hosts special events like a pop-up movie theatre and even live concerts!  We have friends who had some brilliant nights at the concerts.  If you are spending a few days in Castleton, then try and catch a movie there; it is an amazing experience you will not soon forget!

It is also the more accessible of the cave systems and is generally easy to get to and around, with the exception of one low spot when you have to bend nearly double. That said, it is not suitable for prams or wheelchairs. 

Peak Cavern does have the option of a guided tour which explores a lot of its history. The tour lasted around an hour, and we found the guides to be very enthusiastic and engaging. One criticism we do have of the cave network is that there was very little in the way of stalactites and stalagmites or other formations. Certainly, Treak Cliff Cavern seemed to have a lot more to offer in that regard. 

You can even get a mug that says “I Have Been In The Devil’s Arse” – their merch game is on point.

Speedwell Cavern

Cost: Adults £18.75, Children £11

Speedwell Cavern is the most unique experience of all the caverns. Based at the bottom of Winnats Pass, you enter through the original mine entrance and walk down 106 rather slippy steps to a small jetty. Here, you board a boat that takes you into the heart of the living hill. There is something very “Lord of the Rings” in taking a boat trip almost 200m underground. 

The guides really make the trip, they are informative and funny. The first time we did Speedwell Cavern, the girls were quite young, at 3 and 5 and were a bit nervous at first, but the guide did a great job of putting them at ease. 

All told, it takes about an hour to do the tour. As you are in a boat, you have to go at the pace of the tour rather than taking your own time. You get to see the “bottomless” pit as well as many other natural formations. The real difference between Speedwell and the other caverns is that Speedwell does a lot more to explain the history of mining in the area.

There is a gift shop here, as well as parking next to the cavern. One word of warning is about the toilets. When we last went a few years ago, they were free to use, but a friend of ours went recently and said you now have to spend a certain amount of money in the gift shop to be let in. I am not sure if this was a misunderstanding, as such a policy seems unfair, but be warned! 

Image Courtesy of Speedwell Cavern

Blue John Cavern

Cost: Family Ticket (2 adults and 2 children) £50.00

Just about every school child in the North West of England was taken to Blue John Cavern at some point! 

Of all the caverns, Blue John is probably the most physically demanding, but it is also the most rewarding. The network of caverns is huge, and you get the sense on the tour you are only seeing a small portion of it. You start with a walk down 245 rather slippy steps, and they advise you to have both hands free to hang on to the handrails. This means no carrying dogs or children. When Adrian first did this, he had Georgia on his back in a carrier, which was a bit worrying as they are slippy! 

Like Peak Cavern, you have a tour guide who does a great job explaining the history of cavern, Blue John stones and mining.  All told the tour takes a little over an hour, and highlights include the Waterfall Cavern and Grand Crystallized Cavern. Our favourite was Lord Mulgrave’s Dining Room (what a great band name that would make!) The dining room was created where two underground rivers joined and formed a whirlpool which cut a circular chamber from the rock. The story goes that Lord Mulgrave would treat his miners to a meal in this room, and you can see the holes cut for candles in the wall. 

There is a gift shop and toilets on site, and you can take dogs down as well. Due to the lack of internet access at the mine, you can’t book tickets online in advance. 

Blue John Cavern feels like a cathedral in places.

Which cave should we do?

All the caverns have their own merits. It really is down to the age and sense of adventure of your kids as to which one you fancy tackling.  If we were pushed, we would probably say Treak Cliff is our favourite.  We think it is great value for money, there is a lot to see, and there is an impressive amount of Blue John remaining in the cavern. It is just the right length if you have younger kids with a short attention span.

That said, they all have their merits:

If you are up to the challenge with older kids, I would do Blue John Cavern, as it really is the most impressive. 

For a cavern that is easily accessible and close to the centre of Castleton, Peak Cavern is the one to do. 

If you are after an experience, then the boat trip in Speedwell is the way to go. 

Looking for More Things To Do Nearby?

If you are looking for a few more activities, there is plenty to do just a short drive from Castleton. We explore some of our favourite family days out here: Things to Do In The Peak District: Unforgettable Family Days Out in the High Peak.

Have We Missed Your Favourite Things To Do In Castleton With Kids?

We hope you find this information useful! We have had some great days out in and around Castleton, and we hope you and your family do the same. If there is anything you think we have missed, please leave us a comment below, and we can add it to the list.

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About the authors

Our lives have been intertwined with a passion for exploration and a shared love for travel. Our adventures began long before we met, as we individually embarked on daring expeditions across the globe. Our paths finally converged, and we soon realized that our adventures were much more meaningful when shared!

After a brief hiatus to start a family, we eagerly embarked on a new chapter of our travel saga. Determined to instil in Georgia and Eva the values of discovery and open-mindedness, our goal is to embark on exciting escapades and explore breathtaking landscapes, bustling cities, and remote corners of the world. From hiking through mist-laden forests to snorkelling in turquoise seas, every adventure is an opportunity to create lasting memories as a family.

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