Residents fear popular Peak District tourist trap Castleton is 'dying' as homes become holiday lets
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The picturesque village is overrun with visitors from Easter when the famous caverns, pubs, cafes and shops coin it in. But its popularity is having a devastating impact as cottages become holiday lets, Airbnbs and second homes.
So the village can sustain six or seven pubs but no shop in the evening, bank or cash machine. The church no longer holds weekly Sunday services and the school nearly closed after falling to just eight pupils, although it has since recovered to 28 after casting its net wider. Out of season, streets are dark as former homes stand empty. The young are priced out and those that are left are ageing.
Claire Nicklin, of Peveril Tea Rooms, did record business last year, but fears for the future. She said: “From a business point of view it works in our favour. From a residential point of view the village is dying. It’s a lovely community, everyone’s friendly and helps each other out. But unless there’s an intervention everything will become holiday cottages owned by people who don’t live in the village or contribute towards it.”
The sense of decline has been heightened by the potential closure of the visitor centre in a cost cutting move by the Peak District National Park Authority.
Not only does it sell local goods, signpost visitors to local businesses and employ 10, but it is home to a museum, cafe and historical society. Devastated residents have started a petition.
As well as caves, Castleton has an ancient castle, dramatic scenery - including Mam Tor mountain and Winnats Pass - and is home to rare mineral Blue John. It has long been a favourite of school, Scout, Guide and Duke of Edinburgh groups and generations of Sheffielders.
It is also lucky because the enormous cement factory nearby, so visible from much of the Hope Valley, is out of view.
Former undertaker Sue Davies bucked the trend by moving in. She relocated from London and bought The Old Barn gift shop five years ago.
“I came on holiday and really loved the place. I left my job, sold my home and bought this. It’s totally different to the concrete jungle where people aren’t friendly and the traffic is horrendous.”
Hannah Bradley has been landlady at the Castle pub after transferring from The Admiral Rodney in Loxley, Sheffield, last May. She says that was busy but the Castle is on a 'different level'.
She added: “It’s manic all year at weekends and in summer it’s absolutely crazy all week. As a resident you can get frustrated trying to go for a dog walk due to the number of people.”
Angela Chester, aged 79, retired to Castleton 20 years ago and seems to know the driver of every passing vehicle.
She said: “We all know and look after each other, it’s a real community. But young people are priced out, it’s very difficult.”
The Peak Park Authority is reviewing the future of visitor centres in Bakewell, Castleton, Edale and Bamford in a drive which could include job losses.
Workers believe a decision is due in April which could be followed by redundancy notices in July and closure by the end of the year.