A Nostalgic Walk in the Peak District

August 2023

In August 2023, I dragged my long-suffering wife, Jo, on a seven-day walking holiday in the Peak District. To be fair, she did not need that much dragging as she loves walking and has her own memories of previous visits to the Peak District.

This book is described as the youth hosteller’s guide to the Peak District. It was published in 1998. Mainly, it consists of route descriptions. It is beautifully illustrated with excellent drawings of many of the hostels in the Peak District

Inspired by Earlier Youth Hostelling Trips

For me, this trip was inspired by previous youth hostelling trips in the Peak District in the sixties and seventies. I made at least three such trips with my late father, Royle Drew. Two of these, in 1968 and 1969, also involved my sister, Tricia, see Chapter 92, while one, in 1970, involved my brother, Alan, see Chapter 106. I also made a youth hostelling trip with two school friends, Gary Wood and Simon Lefevre in May 1975. In addition, I went on my own on a similar trip in August 1976. I have my diary entries for the 1976 trip but, apart from that, I have no other records except for very brief entries in mum’s and grandad’s diaries. I don’t have any photos but I have since collected various items of relevance to youth hostelling, in general, and youth hostels in the Peak District, in particular.

Large metallic sign which I believe would have stood outside a hostel. It stands just over two feet tall. I recall the iconic green triangle being a very welcome sign at the end of a day’s walking
Smaller enamel youth hostel sign
YHA car mascot again with triangular green sign
Front cover of the book “Peak District Hostels: Youth Hostels in Derbyshire and Neighbouring Counties“. I don’t know the precise date of the book but it is early, pre-1956, as it does not include the hostels at Matlock or Bakewell
Small metal badge for YHA in the Peak District

Staying at Youth Hostels in Cornwall

As a family, we also stayed in youth hostels on a trip to Cornwall in 1972, see Chapter 106.

Former youth hostel at Pendennis Castle in Falmouth where we stayed in 1972. A cloth badge for the youth hostel is inset

I do have mum’s notes and scrapbook of this trip although these are somewhat impersonal as mum does not specifically mention other family members. I do not count this holiday among those that inspired the recent trip.

Perhaps, most obviously, this is because the trip was not to the Peak District. But, also we did not walk from hostel to hostel. Rather, we drove between hostels and I recall this being a bone of contention between my parents. Dad had always drilled it into us that you had to get between hostels under your own steam and, indeed, this was a rule for using youth hostels until at least the 1960s. In addition, mum had a much more structured approach to planning the holiday, in general, and meal-times, in particular, as compared to dad’s somewhat chaotic approach, see Chapter 92. I recall there being a lot of conflict. Mum noted that we came home one day earlier than planned. Within a year, mum and dad had split up, see Chapter 99.

Principles and Rules

I guess in planning this trip, I followed several principles or rules.

White Peak

The previous trips mentioned were in the so-called White Peak area of the Peak District so this is the area we went back to. I confess to having a bit of an irrational fear of the Dark Peak, in general, and Kinder Scout, in particular. I blame my father for this! He talked about Kinder Scout a lot but in a way which was quite intimidating, i.e. if you went there, there was a serious risk of getting lost or being shot and not coming back!

There were certain places I wanted to include, such as Eyam, Castleton and Edale. I did not really have specific routes in mind with the exception of the route from Castleton to Edale over Hollins Cross which I wanted to include. I had walked from Eyam to Castleton in 1976 so was interested in following a similar route if possible.

Youth Hostels

Where possible, we stayed in youth hostels. However, this only made sense where the youth hostel was one in which I had stayed previously. So, in the case where a youth hostel was now in a new location, e.g. Castleton, I did not have any strong desire to stay there, particularly, as the place where we did stay in Castleton, Haddock’s Hideaway, is part of the former youth hostel. Of the five places we stayed, two were current youth hostels, Ravenstor and Edale. Two were former youth hostels, Castleton and Sleep Lodge in Bakewell. The other, Innisfree Cottage B&B in Eyam had no specific connection to youth hostelling.


A key difference from more recent holidays we had taken was that I was committed to carrying our stuff from A to B rather than basing ourselves at one place and doing circular walks then driving to another place and doing the same. This was probably the part of the trip over which I had most anxiety ahead of time! But, it was fine although I think we probably both agreed that, despite our attempts to minimise what we had with us, we could probably have taken less.

One difference with my recollections of earlier holidays was that we did not see many other backpackers. We did see a lot of walkers but most only had small rucksacks or day sacks. In fact, the only people we saw truly backpacking in the White Peak area were groups of Scouts or young people doing Duke of Edinburgh awards. We did see a few others in the Dark Peak area but the sort of holiday I took with dad in the sixties or on my own or in friends in the seventies would seem to be uncommon now.


We did have to make some adaptations from those previous trips.

Shorter Time Frame

We only had a week whereas I think those earlier trips tended to be longer, say 9-14 days. For this reason, the route we took had to be scaled back quite a bit.

This map is from the book “Peak District Hostels: Youth Hostels in Derbyshire and Neighbouring Counties“. It shows the routes taken in 1968 (black), 1976 (blue) and 2023 (red)

1968 Route

I have put together the 1968 route, see Chapter 92, largely from memory. All I got from the diaries was the dates of when we started in Ilam and finished in Matlock. I recalled the starting and ending points anyway. I think our route was Ilam to Hartington to Buxton to Ravenstor to Castleton to Edale to Leam Hall to Bakewell to Matlock.

1976 Route

In many ways, the 1976 route was similar. I started and finished in the same places, Ilam and Matlock. But, I was only booking hostels a day or two before so, on occasions, I had to make adjustments, for example, not going to Edale as it was only taking people who had pre-booked. I also stayed more than one night in some places, something we also did on the 2023 trip. In 1976, I started in Ilam and went to Hartington as we had in 1968. But from there, I went to Ravenstor rather than to Buxton. I spent two nights at Ravenstor. From there, I went to Eyam. The youth hostel there had not been open in 1968. From there, I went to Castleton where I spent three nights before going on to Hathersage. I then went back to Eyam and Hartington before finishing off in Matlock.

2023 Route

For the 2023 trip, we started in Buxton and went to Ravenstor. From there, we went to Bakewell, then to Eyam and then to Castleton, where we spent two nights. Finally, we walked from Castleton to Edale.

63 not 16

I also made some concessions to the fact that I was now 63 and not 16! These concessions included keeping each day’s walking relatively short as I was not sure how we would manage carrying our bags. Also, we opted to have a private room at our overnight stops figuring that our days of dormitory sleeping were over!

Making Preparations

In planning the trip, I came across my 1976 kit list in the back of one of my diaries.

My 1976 youth hostelling kit list

A Cape and an Anorak

I am not entirely sure what the cape was but I think it was a long waterproof affair. I vaguely recall my dad having one on our walking trip and presumably this is what inspired me. Anyway, I did not take one in 2023 but we did take waterproof jackets, which we no longer call anoraks even thought they are similar! Neither of us took waterproof trousers as we have a love-hate relationship with them! We did both have waterproof covers for our rucksack and we packed everything in our rucksacks inside plastic bags which I think my dad had taught me to do.

A Handkerchief, Vest and Swimming Trunks

I am not entirely sure who puts a handkerchief on such a list but I suspect this was my mother’s influence as was probably the vest! Also, I am not sure where I expected to be able to swim. I did not take a handkerchief, a vest or swimming trunks in 2023!

Sheet Sleeping Bag

Mention of these brings back lots of memories, see Chapter 92. As stated in the 1968 YHA Handbook, it was mandatory at that time to use such a bag to protect the blankets and pillows provided. I am not sure if mum was inspired by YHA or came to this conclusion herself. But, she decided that these would also be good to protect sleeping bags. This meant that I was required to use one with my sleeping bag when I went on school camping trips. While it might seem sensible, to protect the main sleeping bag, I was the only one required to do this which was not a comfortable position to be in!

Anyway, there was no mention of sheet sleeping bags in 2023 and we did not take them. We did not take a groundsheet either. I am not sure what this was for in 1976 as I was not camping!

Front cover of 1968 YHA Handbook

Rules about sheet sleeping bags from the 1968 YHA Handbook


Of course boots were essential both then and now. For the 2023 trip, I had a pair of boots that were already a few years old. The good side of them is that they are very comfortable. The down side is that they leak badly! This was not particularly an issue on this trip but I probably do need new boots! Jo had relatively new boots and she suffered to some extent with blisters. Thankfully, another of the items I had carried was a first aid kit which proved useful.

The only other shoes I took in 2023 were a pair of canvas shoes which I could wear inside and for walking in and around towns. So, no trainers!


Now, as then, youth hostels do not supply towels but they advertise that you can rent them. As we were only staying in current youth hostels for two nights, and in an attempt to minimise weight carried, we decided not to carry towels.


In 2023, we did carry two O/S Explorer maps with us. We needed two as, while most of our route was on the White Peak map, Castleton and Edale were on the Dark Peak map. Part way through the trip, I was advised by friends, to download the Outdooractive software which I did. This meant we used the maps less. It shows footpaths and where you are. It is also easier to consult on a windy hillside than a map especially if you have forgotten your plastic map holder!

Our two Ordnance Survey maps

Of course, one thing we had in 2023 which we did not have in the sixties and seventies was our mobile phones. However, I am still not sure if I would make such a trip without a paper map. It is something that has been drilled into me! I also had an old compass and whistle with me! At one point, we did try to use the compass to orientate the map but found that it was not working properly! I am not sure why but it does not seem to point north consistently.

Silva compass that we took with us in 2023. I bought this because of a connection with the Scout overnight maneuvre that I took part in in the early seventies that was called Shotsilva, see Chapter 106

YHA Card and Handbook

Then, in order to use youth hostels, you had to be a member. You had a membership card. When you arrived, the warden stamped your card. Now, you don’t have to be a member to stay but, if you are, you pay a discounted rate. While you don’t have to be a member, you do have to show photographic ID to stay at a YHA hostel.

For our youth hostelling holidays, we were members of the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) and we had membership cards. Sadly, I no longer have mine but this photo (above) shows what the adult (senior) cards were like in the period from 1949 to 1968. They show the price of membership which rose from 10/- in 1949 to 20/- in 1968. I recall that these cards had a page (below) where each hostel you stayed at could stamp the card to show you had stayed there.
My modern-day YHA membership card


Along with boots, a rucksack is perhaps the most important piece of equipment for a trip of this nature. I think I recall the rucksack I had for the 1976 trip as a green Karrimor bag with aluminium frame. I know I had such a bag and used it a lot when I was at university from 1978 to 1983, taking it to India for my medical elective in 1981.

Also, I remember the type of bag I had for the trips I made with dad. Naturally, it was much smaller and I particularly remember the horribly thin straps!

Rucksack that reminds me of the small rucksacks Tricia and I carried while youth hostelling. I particularly recall the thin straps!

Anyway, for this trip I bought a new rucksack, an Osprey Rook 65. I was expecting something similar to what I’d had previously. But, I found it sat higher on your back and that its moulded shape almost hugged you in. As a result, I found it much more comfortable than I recall my previous rucksacks.

My new rucksack bought for this trip

Tin Opener, Knives, Matches, Food etc

Largely, we decided not to take such things. Partly, this was because we were trying to reduce what we had to carry, partly because we thought we could find these things if we needed them and partly because we thought we would manage if we didn’t find them.

We did carry food for lunch most days. Also, because I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes about four years ago, I had to take my insulin and related paraphernalia. I also needed to make sure that I had sufficient snacks to avoid hypos. In addition to my usual jelly babies, this meant carrying Kendal mint cake. I think the first time I tried this was on a walking trip with dad.

Get Washed Clothes

In the top righthand corner of the kit list is a note which I think says “Get Washed Clothes“. I think this is a reminder that, when packing, I also needed to get clothes that had recently been washed. My daughter read it as “get wasted” clothes, presumably clothes in which to get wasted!! However, although this expression was first used in the fifties and sixties, I am not sure it was a phrase I would have used in my teens.

Starting in Buxton

We started on Sunday 20 August 2023 in Buxton. We had stayed the previous night with our son, Stephen, in Tamworth. He kindly agreed to drop us in Buxton. We left later than originally planned in order to accommodate the women’s World Cup Final between England and Spain which was that day.

We started at Dukes Drive in Buxton at the start of a footpath close to the former youth hostel on Harpur Hill Road.

Start of our 2023 walking holiday in Buxton looking east towards railway bridge (above) and back to car (below) where Stephen and Jo were doing final preparations

Buxton Youth Hostel

The youth hostel in Buxton is now no longer in existence. It opened in 1940 and was closed in 2003. Apparently, it was sold for £360,000 in the aftermath of the foot and mouth epidemic. Shortly afterwards, it was demolished. It was located at the bottom of Harpur Hill Road. It was known as Sherbrook Lodge . In 2007, there was a planning application to build 14 houses on the site. I stayed here on at least one of the trips with dad, see Chapter 92, but not when I came on my own in 1976.

Former youth hostel in Buxton from a 1920s postcard – public domain image available from Wikimedia
Metal badge of former youth hostel in Buxton

No Time to Explore

Initially, I had thought we might have time to explore the area including Shirebrook Wood. However, because I had delayed us to watch the football, we did not have time and decided to press on to walk to Ravenstor.

Midshires Way

We followed the Midshires Way east through Staden and Cowdale. Our intention had been then to turn north at Deep Dale and follow this until we reached and crossed the A6. However, when we got there, we found signs saying that paths through the dale were closed. This meant we had to cross Deep Dale which is, according to Wikipedia, a “steep-sided gorge” As we crossed, we saw a fox and, shortly afterwards, a startled pheasant.

Deep Dale

Topley Pike Quarry

Once across Deep Dale, we continued on the Midshires Way a little further and then turned north. We skirted Topley Pike Quarry and came to the A6.

Chee Dale

Crossing the A6, we arrived at a car park which is labelled Wyevale on the map below. We the followed a wide trail through part of Chee Dale.

Front cover and map of Monsal Trail produced by Peak District National Park

Monsal Trail

This path became the Monsal Trail which is the old railway line and which runs to Bakewell. We followed this to Millers Dale. It was fairly quiet as it was quite late on Sunday evening although it was still light and the weather was good. I was surprised that I did not remember the Monsal Trail at all but Jo thought that I might have just forgotten about it over time. However, when I checked the details, e.g. in the leaflet featured above, I discovered that the railway only closed in 1968 and the Monsal Trail itself only opened in 1981. The tunnels only fully re-opened in 2011. Interestingly, although it is a vehicle-free trail, there are images of the Monsal Trail available through Google StreetView.

The Monsal Trail follows the route of a disused railway. It is popular for walking and, in particular, cycling.
The Monsal Trail passes through part of Chee Dale
There are six tunnels on the Monsal Trail. On the first day, we went through three of these – Rusher Cutting and Chee Dale 1 and 2. The image above shows Chee Dale 2 first followed by Chee Dale 1. The image below shows Rusher Cutting tunnel
The Monsal Trail runs to Bakewell. We completed the part from Ravenstor to Bakewell on our second day

Ravenstor Youth Hostel

Getting There via the Road (B6049)

To get to the youth hostel, we walked up the road from Miller’s Dale largely because I recalled that this was the way to get in and my 1976 diary noted that I had had problems getting back to the hostel. I noted “I got to a point from where I could see the hostel but after a little rest I tried to get there. I was confronted by construction work, a sheer drop, a river & a woman who gave me instructions which had me waist high in nettles“.

My diary entries for the two nights I stayed at Ravenstor youth hostel in August 1976

This Was a Mistake

However, going along the road turned out to be a mistake as it was busy and we learned later that there was a footpath direct from the hostel to the Monsal Trail. We used that the next day when continuing our journey to Bakewell.

Walking up the road to Ravenstor youth hostel
Entrance to Ravenstor Youth Hostel from the road

We Arrived at About 7pm

We arrived at Ravenstor youth hostel about 7pm and this was in time to eat as they served food until around 8pm. However, as I mentioned, you need photographic ID to check in to a youth hostel and we discovered that Jo did not have her driving licence with her. The staff member said he would let her in as she “did not look like an ax murderer“! He asked us to get a copy of it sent to us which we did. Also, although the staff member agreed that they should have had towels available to rent, they did not. So, we had to make do!

Great Food and Accommodation

The evening meal was good. We had exclusive use of a six-bedded dormitory. This was great as it gave us space to fully open our map! The grounds and general location of the hostel are stunning. We only saw two other people in the hostel but we understand there were five of us that night and it was an unusually quiet night. Breakfast was a lavish affair with a huge cold buffet. The staff told us that because there were few guests, hot breakfast items would be cooked individually.

Ravenstor youth hostel August 2023
Grounds of Ravenstor youth hostel in August 2023
One of the bunk beds in our room at Ravenstor. We had a six-bedded dorm for our exclusive use
Postcard featuring Ravenstor youth hostel
Ravenstor youth hostel in 1983 © Nigel Thompson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Vintage metal badge featuring Ravenstor youth hostel

Millers Dale

The hostel staff kindly advised us how to get back to the Monsal Trail by footpath. So, the next morning, Monday 21 August 2023, we took that footpath which brought us out on the small road that runs alongside the River Wye. It is known as Litton Mill Approach and it runs back to Millers Dale past the Anglers Rest. They had also advised us that the pedestrian bridge at Cressbrook was closed.

This bridge is where the footpath from Ravenstor youth hostel meets Litton Mill Approach. If you follow it, it takes you to Monsal Trail. However, we did not go this way. We walked along the road and river back to Miller’s Dale car park
The Anglers Rest pub near Millers Dale © Graham Hogg and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Walking by the River

So, we walked back to Millers Dale along this road by the side of the river. The Monsal Trail leaflet noted that this was a good place to see dippers. We saw a dipper and a heron in a tree.

Heron in a tree
Slightly blurry close-up of a heron in a tree in Millers Dale

Millers Dale Station

We then rejoined the Monsal Trail and walked along this for a bit including a brief stop at the former Millers Dale Station.

Old Millers Dale Station in 2014 © Matthew Chadwick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
The Goods Shed at the Old Millers Dale Station was opened in 2022. Photograph taken in August 2023

Litton Mill

However, we were keen to see more of the river so we branched off again and walked through Litton Mill and alongside the river. However, there were signs warning us that the bridge at Cressbrook was closed. In addition, we got talking to a fellow walker who had turned back because of impassable mud. While the allure of supposedly impassable mud was undeniable, we decided that discretion was the better part of valour, not least because we were trying to meet friends in Monsal Head at 12 and we were keen to go through all six Monsal Trail tunnels. So, we retraced our steps to the Monsal Trail.

The entrance to Litton Mill which is now private housing © Neil Theasby and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
River Wye at Millers Dale
River Wye at Millers Dale
The path we walked on along the River Wye in Millers Dale

Following the Monsal Trail

We then followed the Monsal Trail as were due to meet our friends, Dave and Janet Brown, in Monsal Head at 12. This took us past Cressbrook Mill and through two more tunnels. We met up with Dave and Janet at Monsal Dale Viaduct. We walked with them to Monsal Head where we ate our lunch and filled our water bottles. The Monsal Trail was really busy, particularly with cyclists, but there were a good number of walkers too.

Cressbrook Mill as seen from the Monsal Trail in August 2023
Cressbrook Tunnel in August 2023
Above and below are photos of the Monsal Dale viaduct as seen from Monsal Head in August 2023

To Bakewell

After lunch, we left Monsal Head with Dave and Janet. We came almost immediately to Headstone Tunnel. We went as far as Hassop Station but then retraced our steps to follow a footpath into Bakewell.

Headstone Tunnel entrance in August 2023
Walking on footpath to Bakewell in August 2023
This is where we arrived in Bakewell. It is Holme Bridge or Holme Footbridge. It dates back to the 17th century. The triangular indents provided places where pedestrians could let packhorses and other animals past

Checking In

Once in Bakewell, Jo and I went to check in while Dave and Janet found a cafe. As we were setting off to meet them, I got a phone call from an Amazon Prime delivery driver who was having trouble finding Sleep Lodge. I agreed to wait for him and joined the others later. I had had to replace my mobile phone before the trip and had not managed to buy a case for it. So, to this point, I had been carrying it in a sock. As I knew where we could be staying, I thought I would order a cover and have it delivered to me. Not only was this something that would not have been available to me in the 1970s, I imagine my 16-year old self would not have even dreamed of such a thing!

Sleep Lodge

Sleep Lodge operates as part of Bagshaw Hall which provides high-quality self-catering accommodation. The reason I chose it was because it is based in the former youth hostel. We ate out in the evening, at Rajas Indian restaurant. We bought items for a self-catered breakfast the next day.

Promotional postcard for Bagshaw Hall that I picked up in August 2023
Our room was called the Sir Ranulf Fiennes Suite
The room was a bit grander than I imagine it was a s a youth hostel! Note that everything is packed in plastic bags. My dad would have been proud!

Bakewell Youth Hostel

Bakewell youth hostel was purpose-built and opened in 1965. So, when dad, Tricia and I stayed there in 1968, see Chapter 92, it would have just opened. I did not stay there in 1976 but I recall staying there with Simon and Gary the previous year. It closed in 2007.

Postcard of youth hostel in Bakewell. This shows very well the sign at the entrance. I believe this is the kind of sign I now have
By way of contrast, this is Sleep Lodge in August 2023. I was intrigued to know if the YHA sign was still behind the Sleep Lodge sign but it was not possible to see
Postcard of drawing of Bakewell youth hostel
Badge from Bakewell youth hostel
Rajas in Bakewell © Chris Thomas-Atkin and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

To Eyam

On Tuesday 22 August 2023, we made breakfast at Sleep Lodge and headed out of Bakewell the way we came in. We crossed the Monsal Trail and headed up Longstone Edge. Once there, we managed to take a wrong turn and we got quite lost. That is when we tried to use the compass but later found out that it had not been pointing north. It was this experience that convinced me to give Outdooractive a try and I am pretty sure we would not have got lost had we been using it. I also managed to lose my cap and, although I went back to look for it, I could not find it. We did eventually find our way using the traditional means of asking other walkers! We reached Eyam by following Black Harry Lane.

This is where we crossed the Monsal Trail en route from Bakewell to Eyam
Our route took us through a maize field but on a well-demarcated path
We walked north up Longreave Lane. At the end of Longreave Lane, I think we followed this public footpath
Sign for public footpaths in August 2023 including one to Longstone Edge
Looking up to Longstone Edge in August 2023
When we got lost on Longstone Edge, we found ourselves on the south side of some opencast workings and wanting to go north! I believe they were High Rake opencast workings pictured here in 2011 © Graham Hogg and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Looking down from Longstone Edge in August 2023
Path down to Eyam in August 2023
Arriving in Eyam August 2023. This sign is on the B6521 approaching Eyam from the south


We arrived in Eyam too early to check in so had a look around St Lawrence’s church including the 1985 “Plague Window” which I think I saw for the first time. We then walked through the village and had a drink in the Courtyard at Eyam Hall. From there we walked to Innisfree Cottage B&B where we were staying. Around 5pm, we walked past the museum and youth hostel before coming down the hill where we sat on a bench for a bit. Then, we went to eat at the Miners Arms. We had phoned but could not book as the restaurant was full and they did not take bookings in the bar. We had thought that they only opened at 6pm but they were in fact open all day. 6pm was the time they started serving food.

St Lawrence’s Church, Eyam

St Lawrence’s Church, Eyam in August 2023
The “Plague Window” in St Lawrence’s Church, Eyam. It was installed in 1985 © Michael Garlick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence


I was intrigued by this sign largely because of my grandad’s employment as a shoemaker. I knew nothing about this strike previously
Another sign which intrigued me but for a different reason. Our youngest daughter Emma’s married name is Willson “with two Ls

Innisfree Cottage B&B

Leaflet for the B&B we stayed at in Eyam. We booked there as the youth hostel was not available on the night we wanted it. I believe I found it online. It turned out to be an excellent choice – a small, friendly place. The breakfast was excellent and it was possible to get a packed lunch for a modest additional charge
Innisfree Cottage B&B in August 2023
Our room at Innisfree B&B in August 2023

Eyam Museum

Eyam Museum in 2008 © Alan Heardman and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. We had both been in here previously. On this occasion, we did not manage to go in but we walked past in the evening and we met Dave and Janet Brown in the nearby council car park the next morning

Eyam Youth Hostel

I don’t think I ever stayed at the youth hostel at Eyam with my dad as it did not open until 1971. However, I may have stayed there with my friends in 1975 and I stayed there twice on my 1976 solo trip.

Eyam youth hostel in 2014 © David Hillas and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
My diary entry for when I stayed at Eyam Youth Hostel on 20 August 1976
I stayed at Eyam a second time in 1976 having come from Hathersage. I got my O level results while I was staying here. Family members have pointed out the irony of passing Maths O level but apparently not being able to add up (4*3)+(2*1). However, I think the calculation is correct as it probably takes into account the two O levels I got the previous year in Maths (A) and English Literature (B). The financial reward structure reflects my parents’ value system. They really valued As and saw no value in a grade of C or below!

Leam Hall

I am fairly confident that I stayed at this hostel with dad in the late 1960s. It was a youth hostel between 1939 and 1970 when it was replaced by the hostel in Eyam.

Postcard of Leam Hall youth hostel circa 1940s. The reverse is blank apart from the words “YOUTH HOSTELS ASSOCIATION, NORTH MIDLANDS REGION
Leam Hall hostel from the book “Peak District Hostels: Youth Hostels in Derbyshire and Neighbouring Counties

Royal Oak Pub

One of the places mentioned in my 1976 diary was the Royal Oak public house. This is now closed although the building remains and is in use for residential purposes.

Postcard showing Royal Oak Hotel in Eyam circa 1912
Photo of former Royal Oak in Eyam in August 2023
Plaque commemorating Royal Oak Inn Eyam

Miners Arms

Miners Arms in Eyam in 2006 © Row 17 and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

To Castleton

On Wednesday 23 August 2023, we met Dave and Janet Brown in the free car park close to Eyam museum. We walked with them to Highcliffe, Bretton. Abney Grange and Abney Moor. They headed back and we continued on to Bradwell, past the cement works to Castleton. We saw four groups doing gold Duke of Edinburgh awards en route. They were heading in the opposite direction to us.

My Route in 1976

Description of my journey from Eyam to Castleton in 1976. We were broadly following the route described here.

Sir William Hill Road

We left Eyam from its north west corner following Hawkhill Road uphill before branching left to take The Nook and the ensuing footpath. At Highcliffe, we turned left and followed the road. I believe this photo is somewhere on Sir William Hill Road with Jo, Dave and Janet disappearing off into the distance!

The Barrel Inn

We stopped for coffee at The Barrel Inn. This photo shows Dave, me and Janet

Bretton Hostel

Just after The Barrel Inn, we came to the entrance to Bretton Hostel. In 1976, I headed off cross country near here. We continued further along the road before taking footpaths towards Abney Grange and Abney Moor. This photo shows Dave and Janet at the entrance to Bretton Hostel. Although Bretton Hostel was a YHA hostel, it is now independent. As far as I know, I have never stayed there. It was quite a simple hostel with no meals and no store. According to the 1968 handbook (below), it was only open on Saturdays and Bank Holidays

A Steep Hill

We went down quite a steep hill to Bretton Brook before climbing up to Abney Moor

Abney Moor

Abney Moor August 2023


As we descended from Abney Moor, we could see Bradwell and Hope Cement Works
As we descended, we saw a number of people paragliding

Shoulder of Mutton

Although my 1976 diary refers to the Leg of Mutton in Bradwell, I suspect this was a reference to the Shoulder of Mutton pictured in August 2023

Community Orchard

In Bradwell, we came across Bradwell Community Orchard. Not the greatest photo but I was mainly trying to document the place which I was not previously aware of

Hope Cement Works

On leaving Bradwell, we had to skirt the cement works. However, this is mostly well-screened from the footpath which goes through a wooded area.


We arrived in Castleton about 3pm. We bought ice creams/drinks and sat for a while by the war memorial. I also bought a replacement cap!

This photo is taken from Pindale Road as we approached Castleton from the south. This brought us into Castleton past the entrance to Cave Dale. There are some benches round a tree by the war memorial and that is where we had an ice cream/drink.

Castleton Youth Hostel

Nowadays, the youth hostel in Castleton is at Losehill Hall but it was only acquired by YHA in 2011 and is not the building I recall which was Castleton Hall in the centre of Castleton on Castle Street close to The George pub. This seems to have closed around 2011. YHA records show that this opened in 1943 and, until 1946, was known as Castleton B as there was a Castleton A in Hollowford from 1936 to 1946. The hostel closed at the end of January 2012. In 2013, there was a planning application to repair and alter the hall so that it could be two private residences. This generated a lot of correspondence and documentation and the application was withdrawn in 2015. It was also up for sale at some point but I think this may have been in 2015.

There was a map and information board close to the war memorial including this information on Castleton Hall, the former youth hostel
Castleton Hall in August 2023. This was the youth hostel when I came to Castleton in the sixties and seventies. It is one of the youth hostels I remember most clearly
Cloth badge featuring the youth hostel at Castleton Hall
My diary entries for 22 and 23 August 1976 which were the two full days I spent in Castleton

The George

The George in Castleton in August 2023

Haddock Hideaway

Once it was 4pm, we went and found where we were staying, Upper Styx in Haddock Hideaway. It is part of the old youth hostel. It is a one-bedroomed apartment with a kitchen/diner so we bought food and cooked it there. The welcome pack contained fairly extensive historical details.

Haddock Hideaway is based on the Old Coach House for Castleton Hall. By 1919, the whole site was owned by John Arthur Sellers. At that time, what is now Lower Styx was stabling and the Upper Styx was an ostler’s room. In 1943, the entire building was taken on by YHA. For the remainder of the was, the Old Coach Room accommodated evacuees from Sheffield.

Jon and Emma Haddock are the current owners, hence the name. Emma moved onto the site in 1999 as Deputy Manager for the YHA. In 2003, she and Jon got married on site. They bought the property in 2012.

Bedroom in Upper Styx Haddock Hideaway in August 2023
Living Room in Upper Styx Haddock Hideaway in August 2023
To get to the Upper Styx apartment, you had to go up an outside metal staircase. This is the view from the top of that staircase by the apartment’s front door
View from road just outside Upper Styx Haddock Hideaway looking towards Mam Tor
View of metal staircase leading to Upper Styx Haddock Hideaway with Peveril Castle in the distance

Treak Cliff Cavern

We stayed here two nights. On the second day, Thursday 24 August 2023, we walked up to and visited Treak Cliff Cavern. I think I have visited all the public show caverns in Castleton. Dad had strong views about their relative merits. He considered Treak Clff the best Speedwell the most over-rated! He considered it a glorified boat ride! I don’t think he ever took us there although I have been there since. He did take us to both Peak and Blue John Caverns. It is worth noting that I was influenced by my father as I chose to visit Treak Cliff cavern in 1976.

Advert for Treak Cliff Cavern in the book “Peak District Hostels: Youth Hostels in Derbyshire and Neighbouring Counties
Walking up to Treak Cliff cavern in August 2023
Entrance to Treak Cliff cavern in August 2023
Stairs in Treak Cliff cavern in August 2023
Witches Cavern at Treak Cliff in August 2023
Seven Dwarves stalagmites at Treak Cliff in August 2023
Stalactites and molten cheese effect at Treak Cliff in August 2023

Winnats Pass

We then walked around the hill a bit and returned through Winnats Pass. There was a sheep lying in the road so causing a blockage so, when there were few cars, I chased it off the road! I went here twice in 1976 even thought I seemed to spell it Winnants. At least on my first visit to the pass in 1976, it was closed to cars and I completed a survey related to this. It was very definitely open to traffic when we visited in 2023.

Mam Tor from just above Treak Cliff cavern in August 2023
Motorcycle in Winnats Pass in August 2023
Cars and Sheep in Winnats Pass in August 2023

Fish and Chips

Literally across the road from Haddock Hideaway is Castleton Fish and Chips. So, we felt obliged to have lunch there. We bought them there and ate them by the war memorial.

Peveril Castle

In the afternoon, we went to Peveril Castle. It cost us £8,60 each to get in. Prices vary depending on when you go (peak, standard or off peak), whether or not you book online in advance and whether or not you include a donation. I don’t recall having to pay previously but that is almost 50 years ago! Now, the site is fully enclosed and you have to come back the way you went in. I don’t recall that being the case previously. The information and access, e.g. inside the castle, seems much better than I recall. The site is now managed by National England.

In 1976, I visited on the day I left Castleton to go to Hathersage. I went with Darius and Roena, a brother and sister from Taunton that I had met at the hostel. We found a woman’s purse and met her as we were leaving. I noted, “went up to the remains of Peveril Castle. They’re not very impressive“. While it is not the biggest castle, this assessment feels a bit harsh to me now! The clarity of a 16-year old I guess!

Model of Peveril Castle which we saw at the castle in August 2023
Peveril Castle in August 2023
Inside Peveril Castle. I don’t recall being able to get inside previously. However, the previous time I was there was almost 50 years ago

Cave Dale

We then walked a little way up Cave Dale and came back cross country. I do not recall Cave Dale from previous visits to Castleton which is surprising as it is particularly picturesque and is a much nicer way of accessing Castleton from the south than along the road as we did.

Cave Dale in August 2023
Peveril Castle from Cave Dale
Looking down into Cave Dale in August 2023

To Edale

On our last day, Friday 25 August 2023, we met Dave and Janet in Castleton. In addition to their own dog, Florrie, they also had their daughter’s dog, Coda with them. Coda and Florrie are themselves sisters and I found them pretty indistinguishable!

Hollins Cross

We walked up to Hollins Cross together. This is the place where we crossed the Great Ridge which runs from Mam Tor, Hollins Cross, Back Tor and Lose Hill. As with the Monsal Trail, the path along the Great Ridge is visible on Google StreetView. From Castleton, we walked to Edale.

The walk from Castleton to Edale over Hollins Cross was (and is) one of my favourite and most memorable walks in the Peak District not least, as a child, because it was so short, barely three miles. On one occasion, I think on this walk, it was pouring with rain and we were soaked. When we got to Edale, dad found some sort of café and they gave us tea in the biggest mugs I had ever seen! I have been back to Hollins Cross a few times since. I went with dad when I was in my twenties, and he must have been in his fifties, and I recall that, on this occasion, he was the one who struggled with the going up part! More recently, I went there with my wife, Jo and two of our children, Emma and Stephen, in 2012, see Chapter 92.

To get to Hollins Cross, we left Castleton on Hollowford Road until we continued on a footpath. This view is from the road and shows the path to Hollins Cross in the distance just to the left of centre
This sign is at the point where you leave the road and join a footpath
Looking back to Castleton from the path to Hollins Cross. Hope Cement Works is visible in the distance
Hollins Cross August 2023
Jo, Dave, Janet and dogs take a break on the Great Ridge. The photo is taken just along from Hollins Cross looking away from Mam Tor.


Then, Dave and Janet (and dogs) headed up Lose Hill with the intention of returning to Castleton. We descended to Edale and had a drink in the Penny Pot Café by the station.

Sign outside Penny Pot Café in Edale in August 2023

Just as we were about to leave for the hostel, it poured with rain. We waited a while and, by the time we walked to the hostel, it had eased off a lot. We walked up Marys Lane past The Rambler Inn and Edale Parish Church to the Old Nag’s Head which is where the Pennine Way starts. Then, we followed a footpath to the hostel.

Footbridge in Edale August 2023
Above and below show photos of footpath to Edale Youth Hostel

Edale Youth Hostel

The hostel was much busier than Ravenstor had been with various groups staying there. We ate dinner and breakfast here. As it was our last night, we did not bother asking about towels but made do as we had at Ravenstor.

Entering Edale youth hostel from the car park
Above and below views of Edale youth hostel in August 2023
Again, we had exclusive use of a dormitory-type room. This one had a double lower bunk
Badge of Edale Youth Hostel

To Sheffield

At the end of the week, we were heading to Sheffield to join our daughter, Sarah, and her family who had booked a cottage there for a week. We had been planning to go there by train but those plans were scuppered as there were no trains on Saturday 26 August 2023 because of a strike. We were not able to make plans on the Friday night as Edale hostel had no wifi or phone signal. So, on the Saturday morning, we walked back to the cafe at the railway station and made plans from there. In the end, Sarah picked us up.

At the end of my trip in 1976, dad picked me up from Matlock. The previous year, Simon Lefevre’s parents had picked us up. In 1968, Edna Bust picked us up in Matlock and, in 1969, mum picked us up near Edale, see Chapter 92.

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