cave dale walk cover photo

Cave Dale Walk – An Epic Hidden Gem

The Cave Dale Walk is among my favourite easy hikes in the Peak District. In this guide, I share a family-friendly circular walk to Cave Dale, as well as all the essential info you’ll need before visiting.

Cave Dale is a spectacular limestone valley in the charming village of Castleton. Formed by glacial erosion over 300 million years ago, it’s a fascinating spot to visit whilst also providing some of the most beautiful views in the Peak District.

This easy 2-mile circular walk from Castleton is suitable for all the family. It allows you to explore the entire length of the valley, taking in views of Peveril Castle and the towering limestone cliffs and ends in Castleton village, where you can stop for refreshments. 

In this guide, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about this easy peak district walk. I’ll include how to get there, where to park, and the best time to visit so you’ll be well prepared for your Cave Dale Walk. Let’s get to it.

view of cave dale from peveril castle
I hope you enjoy this easy walk of Cave Dale!

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Cave Dale Walk at a Glance

Distance: 3.5km

Ascent: 156m

Time: 1-2 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Cave Dale Walk FAQs

Before I share my experience walking Cave Dale, let’s cover some key information to help you plan accordingly.

How to Get There

Cave Dale is located in the Hope Valley area of the Peak District. It’s just a few minutes west of Castleton, 5 miles southeast of Edale, and 2 miles south of Ladybower Reservoir. It’s also just a 30-minute drive from Sheffield.

Despite being considered one of the hidden gems of Castleton, the starting point of this Cave Dale walk is easy to find. A good marker is to look out for Peveril Castle. The trailhead starts to the east of the visitor centre. There are also plenty of signs, so it’s difficult to get lost.

While there is plenty of parking for Cave Dale around Castleton, we parked at this spot on Buxton Road. It adds a few hundred metres to your walk, but it’s free to park here, whereas other car parks charge up to £7 a day.

Getting here by public transport is also doable. The 272 bus runs between Sheffield and Castleton, and the 200 runs from Chapel-en-le-Frith. The closest railway station to Cave Dale is in Edale.

river and stone houses in Castleton village
Castleton village

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit the Peak District is during the warmer and dryer months – usually between May and September. Although this is the UK, so it’s always best to come prepared for all the seasons.

Castleton is one of the most famous villages in the Peak District, home to some star attractions such as Mam Tor, Speedwell Cavern, and Winnats Pass. It can therefore get incredibly busy, especially on the weekends and during school holidays.

Other than that, there is no right or wrong time to visit. There are no steep drop-offs or dangerous areas, so it isn’t one you’d need to avoid during a storm or anything like that. Just show up and enjoy the adventure whenever the opportunity should arise.

woman walking on trail at top of mam tor with great ridge in background
The stunning views from the summit of Mam Tor!

Cave Dale Walk Difficulty

As I mentioned earlier, this is one of the easier Peak District walks and hiking Cave Dale is suitable for all the family. There are no crazy inclines or dangerous drop-offs, so you can relax and enjoy your adventure without worrying about the little ones.

In terms of terrain, it’s mostly gravelly, with some rocky sections as you advance through the valley. These areas can get slippery when wet, but with the proper footwear, there is little to be concerned about. We saw hikers of all ages and capabilities enjoying this walk.

woman ascending a hill through cave dale

Cave Dale Circular Walk Map

Other Things Worth Knowing

Dogs: The entirety of Cave Dale trail is dog-friendly. Our 11-year-old Jack Russell/Chihuahua handled the route with no problems.

Kids: This Cave Dale walk is suitable for kids of all ages.

Pushchair/Wheelchair Access: Unfortunately, this route is not accessible with a pushchair or wheelchair.

Footwear: Supportive footwear with a good grip is a hiking essential for this walk.

Weather: Be mindful that the weather can change quickly in the Peak District. Be prepared for all the seasons.

Facilities: There are pubs, toilets, picnic benches, cafes and other facilities in Castleton.

Map: It’s always good to have a map handy should you get lost or lose the trail. We use All Trails for this purpose.

Hiking Essential Items

Check out our Hiking Must Haves Blog for a list of hiking essentials for each and every adventure. Alternatively, here are some essential items I recommend you have in preparation for your walk:

 

Here are some other essentials for your adventure:

Our Experience on the Cave Dale Walk

Cave Dale was the first walk we did in Castleton. We parked at this free parking area on Buxton Road and set off for our mini adventure. We’d already tackled some big hikes that week, like Alport Castles and Ladybower Reservoir. This began as a gentle walk to rest our tired legs.

We followed the road back into Castleton village. Like all other villages in the Peak District, Castleton is quaint and charming. We marvelled at the beautiful houses and inviting local businesses, keeping a special eye out for the cafes for our obligatory end-of-walk coffee and cake.

road and shops in castleton village
signpost in castleton village towards cave dale walk

We saw signs pointing us toward the Cave Dale walk throughout the village. We didn’t have any difficulty at all locating the trail. It starts between two sets of cottages where you walk through an enclosed cave-like entrance with an information board about how the valley came to be.

After walking through the wooden gate and out of tree cover, the valley opened up, revealing the towering limestone cliffs. As is usually the case, photos online do not do justice to just how jaw-dropping the scenery is. We were surprised to find that we were the only ones there.

cave like entrance at the start of cave dale circular walk
walking trail through cave dale with limestone cliffs on either side
walking trail through cave dale with beautiful limestone cliffs on either side

We strolled along slowly, turning back often. The views behind us were equally as spectacular as the views ahead of us. We peeped the Peveril Castle ruins to our right, with a trail that looked like it would lead you right to it. I can tell you now it does not. We found out the hard way.

Despite our plans for an easy hike, we couldn’t resist the climb to the castle. It started well with a steep but steady ascent, but as we neared the top, we realised we’d have to climb the last section. We pulled ourselves up using a makeshift rope that previous explorers had made with a wire fence. A fun detour, but don’t waste your time. There is no (legal) entrance to the castle this way.

drone shot over peveril castle and cave dale
woman climbing a steep trail towards peveril castle from cave dale

We made our way back down and continued our walk through Cave Dale. I mentioned it earlier, but adventurers of all ages will love this trail. The rocky outcrops are mesmerising, and many cool caves are carved into the rocks.

There’s a noticeable incline, and we could feel the pull in our legs, but nothing that anybody of reasonable fitness can’t handle. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable hike, with the views only intensifying the higher and further you go.

woman walking on rocky pathway during cave dale walk
view of cave dale from the top of the valley
view of cave dale from the top of the valley

Follow the trail until you see a stone wall on your right-hand side. From that point, keep an eye out for a sharp right turn. This trail will lead you down a wide grassy track in the direction of Castleton Village before joining a marked path for the final stretch.

Remember to reward yourself in Castleton with a coffee and cake or a nice cold pint. There are a staggering number of pubs in the village so you shouldn’t have trouble finding one! Happy hiking!

woman walking through cave dale

Enjoy this Cave Dale Walk!

I hope you enjoy this beautiful walk as much as we did. It’s one of the best Peak District walks, in my opinion, and boasts some unforgettable views.

Let me know what you think in the comments! 

Stay adventurous and Happy travels.

Planning a trip around the Peak District? Check out our England series for more travel tips and advice. 

Charlotte & Natalie
If you enjoyed our free guide, you could support us by buying us a coffee! Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, where we share more travel advice and inspiration. Charlotte & Natalie x

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Charlotte & Natalie

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We’re Charlotte & Natalie, a British lesbian couple with a passion for travel and adventure.
Here you will find everything from LGBTQ+ travel & lifestyle advice, to comprehensive guides and itineraries designed to make your travel planning easier.
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