Castleberg MYD3815 (c) YDNPA, 2023
The tall limestone rock of Castleberg has been recognised as a beauty spot for centuries, ever since travellers started touring Britain’s natural wonders. The first visitors in the mid-18th century wrote that the rock had been laid out as a giant sundial and a Samuel Buck sketch of 1720 survives showing huge slabs of stone with the hours marked out on them running down the side of the hill. By 1800, the sundial was long gone and instead the townspeople had laid out a path to the top so that visitors could enjoy the fine view. The area was gradually developed over the next hundred years, with more paths cut, trees and shrubs planted and eventually various amusements added such as swings, a roundabout and roller skating.
The pleasure grounds were enjoyed by locals and by visitors who came in on the railway line from the towns of the West Riding and Lancashire. Castleberg became a popular picnic spot for these excursions. A small entrance charge was made at the gate and hot water for tea making could be had from the gatekeeper. Today, Castleberg is owned by Settle Town Council and there is free access to it. Many of the plants from the pleasure grounds survive including lilac, buddleia and peony and they share the site with interesting native species such as spurge laurel, dogwood and two different sorts of whitebeam. The Council manages the site both as a haven for wildlife and a beautiful place to visit.
Speight, Harry (1892) The Craven and North West Yorkshire Highlands. London: Elliot Stock