Walk: Castleton Landslip

There are several reasons why I’d not attempted the very short Castleton Landslip walk before now. Mostly words like “reaches”, “up the valley”, “gain height”, “climbs” and “significant ascent” (!)  in the walk description were a big turn-off for me. I really, really don’t like big hills.

The beautiful Hope Valley. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

But the walk has been on my list of walks I’d like to do for quite a long time. And when the poet was assigned the task of selecting our next 2- to 3-mile walk, this is the one he chose.

The book is starting to get out of date now, however. We bought a new OS map and checked the footpaths are still current, but the book tells us to start the walk in a car park that is now, apparently, a coach park. A sign on the gate said it was open from 10am until 4pm in the winter when the Speedwell show cave was open. The cave was open, but the coach park was not …

So we joined the walk a little further up at the actual Speedwell cave. Then we followed a slippy path up towards the Treak Cliff cave. The path got muddier and more slippery the further along we walked, until eventually it was quite disgusting and treacherous in places. At once point I thought the dog would pull me down the slope, at another point I just lost my balance and nearly went anyway.

Strategically placed bench on a very steep incredibly muddy section of the walk. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I really hated this part of the walk. Not only was it UP HILL, it was also VERY NARROW, alongside a SHEER DROP, and we were up to our ankles in mud.

While the poet took some landscape pictures, I walked a little further and found the bench above:

A rocky outcrop on a lonely moor
Stirs an ancient sense of place
Belonging to a time of long before
Where roamed the spirits of an older race

We had to skirt the Treak Cliff cave and climb some steps behind it to continue on our walk. By this time I hated it and couldn’t wait to get to some nice, firm, dry ground. But we did have some stunning views.

With Mam Tor behind us. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We passed over and through several stiles and gates and then the path opened out into a beautiful view of Mam Tor and the exposed south face. This was the only time the tripod came out for the camera, so we paused for a quick “team photo” here. I look a lot happier than I felt! Although I was glad to have some grass beneath my feet.

Just over that grass plain you can see in the picture is the Blue John cave. This is where we paused for a snack, a drink and to avail ourselves of the facilities.

Then we left the Blue John cave along a metalled track, turning right at the bottom towards the A625 …

… what a treat. I didn’t even know this was here.

Apparently, in 1819, a road-building company, in their wisdom, decided to build a road on land that had already been prone to landslides for the previous 4,000 years. And this road crossed the actual landslide twice.

Remains of the ruined A625. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

For the next 160 years, the road was in constant need of repair until in 1977, following the dry summer of 1976, it was restricted to a single lane. Finally, in 1979, the road was closed to traffic.

We had to go through another gate and wade through an ankle-deep ford (deeper in places) to follow the road back down the hillside. At once point there was an 8-foot drop we had to clamber down.

See now, the word “down” appears twice in the previous paragraph. This is a much happier state of affairs for Yours Truly, especially the clambering bit.

Through another gate at the bottom we reached the point to where vehicles can still drive and turn around. Then we turned right and followed the road back down into Castleton.

Crushing circle. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

At the next car park we left the road to walk down another muddy, wet path to a crushing circle once used by the Odin Mine – this mine is the reason for the A625 road being built in the first place. I’m in the picture this time for perspective.

The path continued over a wooden bridge to a picnic area and another path that carried on over several more stiles to a farm. Here we rejoined the main road and made our way back to the coach park where we should have started the walk. It was just up another small hill to where we’d left the car.

I’m really glad we did this walk in the end … now we never, ever have to wade up that quagmire again. EVER. But it is a beautiful part of the country and it’s steeped in history. Plus, it’s also where the Blue John came from in my engagement ring, earrings and pendant. In fact, it’s also where we bought the jewellery.

We walked only 2.66 miles, but we did more than 12,000 steps and burned more than 500 calories. Hopefully, the next walk will be easier …

Mam Tor. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)