2018 Day 21 – Peak District

It’s official. A healthy dose of nature and greenery is good for what ails you. It certainly worked wonders for pulling me out of the grumps. It’s quite hard to keep a puss* on, when you’re surrounded by loveliness. (*sour puss expression).

Last night’s mist has cleared and we’re left with the promise of a fine day. All the better to explore Castleton and nearby Peveril Castle.

Chris cracks out his serious hiking shoes (which I would not be caught dead in. A girl has her standards) and we hike into the picturesque Castleton. With its grey stone cottages, the oldest standing houses here date back to the 1400s. It’s such a lovely setting. The grey stone perfectly offsets the green countryside, whilst summer flowers provide a perfect pop of colour.

For a tiny village, Castleton has a lot to offer. Fabulous walking tracks through the Peak District, nearby caves to explore, top quality food, an informative visitors’ centre, and of course, the Castle.

Access to the Castle is up a steep hill. I can see our hill fitness is improving as we both mountain goat up it, nary drawing a breath**. I’ll say one thing for Knights of yore, they must have been fit AF. Not only did they have the strength to charge up these hills at speed, but once there, they had to deliver savage fighting. All while wearing around 20 kg of chainmail/metal armour. Fit as. Or dead. These were your options. And there was no nice path with a rail in those days, I’m sure. (** only a wee exaggeration…we’ve significantly improved).

Peveril is a Norman castle, built shortly after the Norman conquest of 1066. It’s named for William Peveril who was the Keeper of the Royal Forest at this time.

From then to the 13th century, it was home to the Keepers of the Forest of the Peak, whose sole responsibility was protecting the natural resources that surrounded them, including trespasses against hunting, building or taking of timbers. Any violations of Forest Law were heard in the Castle and suitable punishments meted out. In the Middle Ages, the Castle changed its focus to taxation of the realm – for grinding corn, for grazing animals on summer pastures and mining lead from the area. By the 16th century, the Castle had fallen into disrepair, although it still served well as a courthouse and prison, as well as a repository for seized livestock.

In the centuries since, time took its toll. For all its strength once, it was no match for the march of time. This Castle, like many others, had rooms specially built for royal visitors. For Peveril, this meant it’s New Hall, of which only a footprint column base remains.

Sadly, a royal visitor never materialised, but I’m guessing that was a better outcome then bring caught short with unsuitable accommodation if a royal were to arrive unexpectedly. Social and professional suicide, I suspect.

The tall Keep is off limits today, as it’s undergoing works, but it’s still a clear show of strength a thousand years later. It would have sent a clear message to all would be invaders – “We hold this spot, keep out”. Mind you, this old school toilet off the side would have sent the same message!

The views across the valley and on to the next peaks are stunning from on high. The other side, a sheer drop.

We admire the views for a while then make the trek down, stopping only to photograph the occasional wildflower.

We stop for lunch at Rose Cottage, one of the original houses in Castleton.

Our meal is delightful; it wouldn’t be out of place in London. I have a linguine with crab and prawns that had just the right hit of chilli, Chris a slice of a perfectly made steak and ale pie.

Tummies sated, we explore Castleton finding a great bakery – lemon drizzle cake and Viennese swirls come home, as does a jar of amaretto preserved apricots.

We also stop into the Visitors’ Centre that’s showing a film on wildlife in the area (Hares! Lots of them!). It also has displays of prehistoric finds from the area as well as mineral and rock samples from the surrounding caves. These “Blue John” veins are particularly pretty.

Town and Castle thoroughly explored it’s time to head home accompanied by the gentle sounds of cows and sheep at the end of their day. They certainly have a lot to say about it.

If all goes well tomorrow, there’s a very special “someone” we hope to visit, but I daren’t say too much in case it doesn’t work out. Fingers, or should I say “paws” crossed. Hmmmm.

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