Treak Cliff Cavern - History and Facts | History Hit

Treak Cliff Cavern

Derbyshire, United Kingdom

Lily Johnson

28 Jan 2021
Image Credit: Alamy

About Treak Cliff Cavern

Treak Cliff Cavern is a cave system in Castleton that has attracted visitors to view its dramatic stalagmites and stalactites for nearly 100 years. Alongside these striking rock formations, Treak Cliff is also home to the incredibly rare Blue John mineral, only found in one other cave in the world, the nearby Blue John Cavern.

Treak Cliff Cavern history 

Mining operations were thought to have begun in the 18th century on Treak Cliff hill, with the extraction of lead the key focus. Though the then-named Millers Mine was likely the first to see Blue John in the world, there are no records of their mining it. 

By the late 18th century however, Blue John was in high demand for ornamental purposes. Chatsworth House, seat of the Dukes of Devonshire, and even Buckingham Palace sought the mineral for use in vases and columns.

During World War One however, Blue John’s romantic use would be subverted for the war effort when it was mined heavily for use in blast furnaces. Sadly much of it was lost in this period. 

Commercial mining stopped in 1926, and it was first opened to the public as a show cave in 1935. While previously thought to be mined out, in 2013 and 2015 two new veins of Blue John were discovered, now dubbed the Lost Vein and the Ridley Vein. 

Treak Cliff today 

Today the cavern is managed by the Harrison family, with very small amounts of Blue John still being extracted for ornamental use. Jewellery, plates and vases made from the mineral are sold exclusively in the gift shop and in nearby Castleton.

Tours through the mine take place throughout the day as visitors are welcomed to marvel at its bright blue ores and amazing rock formations developed over millions of years, including the famous ‘Stork’. 

With named sections like Aladdin’s Cave, Witch’s Cave, Fossil Cave, Dream Cave, Fairyland and the Dome of St Paul’s, Treak Cliff inspires a sense of adventure and awe in what may be found there. 

An accompanying museum and cafe allows for an extended visit outside of the caves, with the nearby Castleton also a pleasant visit. 

Getting to Treak Cliff

Treak Cliff Cavern is situated in Castleton in the centre of the Peak National Park. It is on the A6187, within easy reach of the M1 and M6 motorways. Castleton bus station is a 25-minute walk away, while the nearest train station is Edale, a 15-minute drive.

The cavern is in the west end of Castleton on the Buxton Road, and is a 15-minute walk following the brown tourist signs marked ‘Castleton Caverns’ and ‘Treak Cliff Cavern’.

Featured In

Top Historic Sites in the Peak District

Discover 10 of the Peak District's best historic sites, from the eminent Chatsworth House to the mysterious Lud's Church. While renown for some of the UK's most breathtaking natural sites, the Peak District is also home to a wealth of history spanning from the Bronze Age to World War Two.