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Cave Dale

OS grid ref:- SK149824

Cave DaleCave Dale, a dry limestone valley in the Peak District National Park commences at the popular village of Castleton where the valley sides are almost perpendicular and rise to over 50 metres in height.

There is a superb viewpoint down the dale with stunning views over medieval Peveril Castle, dating from 1080, with Lose Hill, the reputed site of a Dark Age battle, behind it.

A bridleway runs the entire length of the dale, part of the Limestone Way footpath which runs for 80 kilometres from Castleton to Rocester in Staffordshire. It is a spectacular walk up the dale, which is very deep and narrow, with mineral veins crossing it at intervals.

The dale is entered through a narrow rocky opening almost from the centre of Castleton and Peveril Castle is seen high up on the almost vertical western slopes. The Norman builders of the castle selected the site because the steep sides of Cave Dale provide a natural defence and lookout spot.

Cave DaleCave Dale was formed by glacial meltwater carving a deep narrow valley in the local limestone. The river eventually found an alternative, underground route leaving a dry valley with caverns underneath. Later on the caverns below Cave Dale collapsed making the valley even deeper and gorge-like at its northern end. The Castleton entrance to Cave Dale had a narrow natural arch as recently as 200 years ago, a relic of the roof collapse. Halfway up the valley is an outcrop of basaltic lava with a few small columns.

The chambers of Peak Cavern, a large natural show cave, run directly below Cave Dale and any small streams in the dale quickly disappear into the ground down limestone fissures and into the caverns beneath. There are several small caves or old lead mines within the dale's limestone walls. At the southwestern extremity of the dale as it merges into the moorland between Castleton and Peak Forest are the remains of several old lead mines.

In 1983 Cave Dale was the scene of the murder of a 21-year-old Manchester Polytechnic student, Susan Renhard. Norman Smith, a local 17-year-old youth, was subsequently jailed for life at Nottingham Crown Court in 1984.

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