Travel review: Historic Castle Inn is a cosy break near home
The structure would have been impregnable - flanked on all sides by sheer cliffs - and its location high in the sky gave onlookers a bird’s eye view of the surrounding valleys.
Today visitors to Castleton can experience the same stunning panorama, stretching right from Mam Tor to Lose Hill, and take a peek in the castle keep, if they can manage the lung-bursting walk to the top, that is.
Luckily for us, we had a treat waiting at the bottom of the hill .
In the shadow of the ruins is the Castle Inn pub and lodge, which reopened at the back end of last year following a major £300,000 refurbishment.
It was the ideal location for a quick night away in the first week of a bleak January - a way to blow away the cobwebs while simultaneously recharging the batteries.
We started with afternoon tea at Rose’s Cottage, a local institution serving up hearty, tasty dishes - think pies and cakes - before heading up the hill.
There’s a wealth of local walks to enjoy - and even our relatively short jaunt took in fascinating titbits of Tudor history and other points of interest, such as the caverns.
Our favourite is Speedwell Cavern, which includes an underground boat trip through the former lead mine, and you can pick up souvenirs made from the local semi-precious mineral Blue John in various shops.
Unsurprisingly Castle Inn is also steeped in somewhat spooky history, and friendly staff there are well versed in its tales of ghosts as well as their knowledge of whiskeys .
Our room, the Peveril, was one of those above the pub; a cosy, comfortable space with a country charm to it but, essentially, a modern bathroom. There’s a separate B&B building at the side of the pub too.
We soaked off the day’s mud in the decently sized bath before heading down to food in the new dining area.
By our count there was no less than three roaring open log fires, and the cosy restaurant part has striking walls of exposed brick.
The menu has all the pub dishes you’d hope for on a Peak District break - with some added sophistication and modernity.
Highlights were the Black Pearl scallops in an intensely garlicky butter, and a picture-perfect smoked duck breast, with deconstructed summer puddings.
A mighty ham hock and fillet steak were huge in portion as well as taste - and the dessert sharer plate truly finished us off. Creme brulee and Eton mess on one plate - be still my beating heart.
The evening ended under the stars, as we curled up in the pub’s healthy stock of blankets outside, with glasses of Jura, while the bells of St Edmund’s Church rang out over the village.
For review purposes, I’d love to say a ghost had visited in the night. Alas, we were undisturbed. But there was somewhat of a blast from the past, as the chef who provided dinner and a hearty full English with excellent bacon - turned out to be an old schoolfriend who I hadn’t seen in 15 years.
It’s a small world, and in Sheffield we’re lucky to have spots like Castleton 30 minutes away.