Peverill Castle: a Norman legacy
When we lived in Altrincham back in the 1970s, I would frequently go out on a Sunday club cycle ride that headed off to the heights of the Peak District, sometimes picking up the road through the Hope Valley to Castleton and, depending on time and energy levels, climbing out of the valley either via Winnats Pass (20% incline) or over the Mam Tor road (steep but not as steep).
Hovering over Castleton is the silhouette of Peverill Castle, high up on the hillside, imposing and awe-inspiring. Always intent on completing the Sunday ride, we never stopped long enough to tramp up the steep hill to take a closer look at the ruin. But now as members of English Heritage, and with more time flexibility, this was the opportune moment to make that detour.
I imagined that it had been built as a fortification, to house people securely and keep the enemy out. But no. It had been built in the years following the Norman conquest, fell eventually into the hands of the monarchy, but was used mainly as accommodation for the guardians of the royal hunting grounds.
The only king ever to have visited it was Henry II, and then on only one occasion. Obviously it was too far from anywhere and much too remote. This area around Castleton must have almost felt like an independent kingdom, so rarely was it visited by anyone from the realm.
But do go and climb its ramparts. The climb is steep, but the rewards are immense. The views over the Hope valley, and the brooding peaks of Mam Tor and Losehill, will make your efforts worthwhile.