YHA Castleton Losehill Hall, Peak District Derbyshire, October 2018

by Emma Bumpus on November 12, 2018

Careertraveller takes to the hills of Derbyshire where dales, peaks and caverns reveal epic countryside in the heart of the Peak District National Park.

A journey through quintessential classic English villages leads us to Castleton, a chocolate box hamlet whose character stone built houses sit perfectly amongst dramatic White Peak countryside. Situated amongst limestone cliffs, and layers of wide-open moorland, YHA Castleton Losehill Hall provides a grand entrance to England’s first National Park, established in 1951.

Driving through the estate’s grandiose Squires Lane is the trigger for our YHA adventure, which set in 27 acres of prairie like parkland brings nature home. Space for parking makes for a quick and easy check in, located in a modern log cabin-like reception buzzing with tourists and travellers.

Whilst the teenagers head for the hot spot wifi zones with reputable YHA cake and hot chocolate in tow, the adults take a wander round this extraordinary gothic mansion and uncover the roots of Castleton Hall and Losehill Hall. Freshly decorated corridors display billboards that recount the building’s origins with timelines that transport us back to the Middle Ages and 1943, when YHA first opened Castleton Hall in the village and housed wartime evacuees!

Expansive airy rooms with tall ceilings entertain guests with a mix of old and new furnishings including stone fireplace and leather sofas in the careertraveller favourite Lounge. Large, sociable and bright, we enter an oasis of relaxation with mix of contemporary coloured tub chairs and vintage chandelier that shines above windows that bring the outdoors in!

It is here we detour for a walk around the stunning grounds and make friends with the estate’s goats and pigs using the hostel’s bespoke hand written map that smacks of author AA Milne’s woodland characters and famous Hundred Acre Wood. Inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh artist EH Shepard’s original 1926 illustration, YHA Castleton Losehill Hall brings outdoor adventure alive with an ingenious twist of literature and nature.

Steeped in history we admire the former Victorian Losehill Hall built in 1882 and discover it became the new home for YHA Castleton in 2011. As a hostel housing 146 beds in 36 rooms, many en-suite, YHA Castleton Losehill Hall also offers self contained West Mews, whose 28 beds in 7 rooms with private lounge and kitchen accommodates exclusive hire to groups.

A rustic 8-minute walk into Castleton village brings us to independent shops selling treasure in the form of home made ice cream, old-fashioned sweets and gifts that sparkle with jewellery and antiques. Things ramp up as we pass a trail of tearooms and pubs whose renowned homemade produce and local ale provide sustenance to over 2 million tourists a year.

Captivated by this picturesque village dating back to 12th century we take a stroll along the Peakhole Water stream, which overlooked by Norman fortress Peveril Castle is a panoramic introduction to Hope Valley. A haven of rugged moors and peaks fit for hikers and cavers to rock-climbers and hang-gliders we take stock of the wildlife and landscape that beckons birdwatchers, artists and photographers galore.

Back at YHA Castleton Losehill Hall, hunger directs us to the Restaurant where dinner is a menu of traditional and modern from pizza and pasta to pie and mash, not forgetting desserts for the sweet toothed after a day on the dales! Served in a stylish room with wooden floor and modern furnishings is a luxurious touch enhanced by candles that make our stay unique and welcoming.

A cheeky bottle of wine from reception is an introduction to Peeping Tom, a stone statue and rescued YHA relic from Derwent Hall, the region’s former youth hostel demolished in the creation of Ladybower Reservoir. Evening entertainment is a round of blow football and scrabble in front of the fire before retreating to our en-suite room, whose signature lime green bedding and bedside lamps induce a fashionable slumber.

Morning brings fuel with a choice of hot or continental breakfast in the canteen or independent use of the Kitchen where guests have the choice of making their own in sparkling modernity! Plentiful appliances are a joy for families and those keen to maximise their time outdoors, with of course the hostel’s 3D maps.

A giant wall map is our impetus for climbing Mam Tor aka Shivering Mountain, which on our doorstep involves a leisurely hike up Lose Hill to Great Ridge where between the vales of Edale and Castleton we embrace mother nature. 517 metres high, we separate the Dark Peak stone clad edges from the White Peak fertile grassland and work our way down to Winnats Pass, a breath-taking mountain pass whose limestone valley is a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Scattered with old mine shafts and caves we go underground into Treak Cliff Cavern one, of Castleton’s four renowned caverns, and uncover the history of rare semi precious mineral Blue John, unique to the Peak District. Our expert tour guide Andy takes us back in time through a door that replicates Dr Who’s tardis and as we enter a spectacular show of caves we learn about this working mine, whose story goes back to the 18th century. One of only two working Blue John Stone mines in the world; we experience the work and tools of a miner and see veins of Blue John by torchlight.

We time travel further with an introduction to fossils, which engrained in the ceiling of hillside limestone rock is a journey of 330 million years! Exhilarated, we make our way deeper to the Witches’ Cave where limestone formations reveal bands of the purple-blue and yellow mineral.

Our final part of the 40-minute guided tour ends in the Dream Cave where stalactites and stalagmites bring geology alive and despite no sight of bats and cave spiders, we feel fully inducted to subterranean life beneath the Peak District National park. Exit is a view of sweeping hillside scenery that sweeps us down to the Visitor Centre for a coffee and peek in the Treak Cliff Gift Shop brimming with Blue John ornaments made on site. Dazzled by this exceptional tourist attraction, we step into the Treak Cliff Cavern Museum and examine real stone specimens and the legacy of Derbyshire’s mining industry that makes this district unique.

Educated, energised and elated, we head back to YHA Castleton Losehill Hall for a night of heavenly green belt slumber and feel privileged to have had 48 hours of pure adventure and discovery.

Further Information:

YHA Castleton Losehill Hall
Visit Peak District & Derbyshire – The areas’s official tourism website
Treak Cliff Cavern

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