The Blue John Cavern at Castleton in the Peak District is world famous. It is home to eight of the fourteen known varieties of Blue John stone, a beautiful and ornamental fluor-spar. The mineral has been mined here for centuries and continues to be in the winter months. Miners armed with picks and shovels pursue the stone deep in the mine workings, where it is found in veins in the limestone or loose in the clay beds lining the passageways. Once mined, the lumps of Blue John are washed and transported to the surface. Once in daylight, the quality of the stone can be seen more clearly. The experienced eye of the craftsman can then scan the material for faults and weaknesses. The most solid and attractive pieces are then kept for making into beautiful items of jewellery set in Sterling Silver and 9ct Gold, or for larger ornamental objects such as bowls, sails and candlesticks. The traditional methods of turning Blue John are still used today and the skill of our craftsmen and women working in the Original Blue John Craft Shop in the village of Castleton enable the visitor to view this unique stone at it’s best. Restoration work of antique pieces is a speciality.
The Blue John Cavern is steeped in history and old mining equipment is on view inside the cavern. Guided tours are conducted throughout the cave system at short regular intervals. Each tour lasts approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, during which time a series of magnificent natural water-worn caverns are seen. Blue John can be seen in its natural state, along with stalactites, stalagmites and huge caverns. See the Waterfall Cavern with its multi-coloured dome. Visit Lord Mulgrave’s Dining Room where his Lordship entertained miners, and where fine veins of Blue John can be seen in their natural state in the limestone. Stand in the Variegated Cavern, 150 feet high and 30 feet wide!
The trip is of great educational experience to the young and old alike.
Giftware, light refreshments, and items of Blue John may be purchased from the Cavern Shop, whilst The Original Blue John Craft Shop in the village of Castleton also has a range of Blue John jewellery, crafted items and assorted home and giftware – furniture, Caithness Glass, Beswick, Dartington Crystal, Sophie Allport, Gisela Graham, fashion jewellery, scarves and so much more….
If you are adventurous and looking for something unusual to do with your leisure time, come and visit the Blue John Cavern at Castleton – you won’t be disappointed!
Image credits: Blue John Cavern