Walkers young and old have been bewitched by Castleton for decades � the gorgeous walking country, the spellbinding caves, the welcome and not least, the grub. Here�s our perfect weekend�
Win Hill and Ladybower, 11 miles
Roman roads, rocky tors, wooded cloughs, Britain�s most elegant reservoir, a cement works - this one has it all.
Cement works? I hear you cry. Well, yes, the Hope Valley cement works is first on your horizon as you set out on the path to Win Hill. But don�t worry, it has its own crazy appeal. Firstly, it�s painted marble-grey so it almost starts to blend in with its surroundings. Secondly, it�s funny. If you asked a child to draw a factory, a picture of the Hope Valley cement works would appear.
But fear not, for the path soon turns north, aiming squarely for the rich brown slopes of Win Hill, passing through Hope en-route. It�s a vast moor, topped off by the rugged tor of exposed rock which makes it such a landmark. Climbing it gives you the whole glory of the Hope Valley in one dramatic sweep. Suddenly you are part of it all, not just a spectator, and the feeling of involvement is vivid.
Below appears the vast reservoir of Ladybower. Military history buffs will claim to hear the rumble of distant Rolls Royce Merlin engines at this point, for this was where the Lancaster bombers of 617 Squadron practised their �Dam Buster� raids. The famous film of their exploits was shot here, too.
Head east off Win Hill and into the leafy gorge of Parkin�s Clough, a steep but exhilarating descent bringing you out at the majestic masonry of Yorkshire Bridge.
From here, it�s a gentle climb to the top of Ladybower�s pristinely-grassed dam. Up close, Ladybower is even more impressive. Its architecture is industrial-age Britain, all swarthy black stone and crenellated turrets.
Pause at the Yorkshire Bridge pub, an excellent free house with a great range of real ales. Then it�s on again, to an undulating, three-mile stroll along the shoreline.
At Ashop Bridge, the path climbs back over the flank of Win Hill through dark and muted conifers. You'll pass a cluster of ruined houses, and someone has rather thoughtfully built a sort of Mastermind chair out of the rubble halfway up.
The path climbs higher to emerge from the woods and reach Hope Cross, one of the many sublime high-level passes that thread in and out of the Hope Valley. From here, it�s a simple, joyous stroll down the route of an old Roman road back into the valley.
The final stretch is heavy on tired feet, just as it should be - but provides a perfect view of tomorrow�s objective: The Great Ridge.
Saturday afternoon and evening
If you�ve time to visit one of Castleton�s famous showcaves, so much the better. Find the unique gemstone Blue John at the cavern which bears its name, or visit Speedwell and journey by underground boat to the Bottomless Pit. Or enter the gaping maw of Peak Cavern now being rebranded under its ancient moniker, the Devil�s Arse.
The village also has more than its fair share of lovely pubs including the George, the Cheshire Cheese and the Nag�s Head.
The Great Ridge and Cavedale, 7.5 miles
This might sound like a major undertaking, but while the ridge is spectacular, it�s also easy.
Once you�ve climbed to the summit of Lose Hill, it�s a breathtaking stroll across three summits where the ascents are toothless and the descents kind on the knees.
It�s a short hop to dramatic Back Tor, a truncated escarpment with a sheer cliff on its western flank and a lone hawthorn on its summit. An easy path skirts the drop and leads to the long eastern shoulder of Mam Tor.
The view from the summit is one of the finest in the district, stretching to Stanage Edge in the east, past Win Hill and the Great Ridge, and on to the forbidding flanks of Kinder Scout.
An intriguing path whose steps are dotted with artsy etchings leads down to the motor pass at Mam Nick. Here, you can choose to descend directly into Castleton past the broken road, or to yomp an extra two miles along farm tracks to descend through Cavedale.
A late Sunday lunch in Castleton is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it will be the perfect end to your perfect weekend, and a curse for the same reason.
Where We Stayed
LFTO stayed at Dunscar Farm, a working farm offering sweet and tranquil accommodation just a mile outside Castleton. The Sunday route passes by Dunscar, making it a perfect base for these routes.