The Yorkshire Dales National Park is well-known for its magnificent caves. Owing to the area’s limestone landscape, Yorkshire, and in particular, the Yorkshire Dales has many epic caves and potholes to explore. Whether it’s an easily accessible show cave or a hidden cavern for experienced cavers, Yorkshire has you covered for satisfying your cave craving!
In this guide, we’re going to tell you about the best caves to visit in Yorkshire and in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Read about the Best Waterfalls in Yorkshire and the Best Walks in the Yorkshire Dales (guides coming soon).
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The 14 Best Caves in Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Dales
The Yorkshire Dales National Park and its impressive limestone landscape are synonymous with caves. In fact, there are over 2,500 identified caves in the national park alone!
Specifically, the landscape in Yorkshire is known as karst – an area of land made predominantly of limestone. Basically, limestone is a soft rock that slowly dissolves over time in water. Karst landscapes can be slowly eroded from the top or dissolved from a weak point inside the rock as water trickles through nooks and crannies. Inevitably, karst landscapes heavily feature caves, underground streams and sinkholes. Certainly, the Yorkshire Dales National Park is chockablock full of these landforms.
With this in mind, we’re going to list the best caves to visit in Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Admittedly, barring one cave (Mother Shipton’s Cave), all of the best caves in Yorkshire are in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Whilst, it’s worth mentioning that Beck and I are not cavers. As you know, we’re hiking enthusiasts and natural attraction seekers. So, this guide is more tailored to caves that are easily accessible and don’t require caving. But, to keep you cavers interested, we’ve also listed the best caves for caving later in the guide.
Let’s get started with the best show caves in Yorkshire!
The Best Show Caves in Yorkshire
The Yorkshire Dales National Park is home to three extraordinary show caves. Also known as a tourist cave or public cave, a show cave is a cave that has been made easily accessible to the public. Basically, these show caves are major tourist attractions. You’ll pay an entrance fee, be supplied with safety equipment and enjoy a guided or self-guided tour.
1. White Scar Cave: The Best Show Cave in Yorkshire
The White Scar Cave near Ingleton and Ribblehead is a phenomenal show cave. It’s well-known for being the longest show cave in the UK and personally, it’s our favourite show cave in Yorkshire. Featuring an underground waterfall along the 1.6km (one mile) floodlit passage, there are many spectacular caverns and rock formations to see during a guided tour.
During a trip to this southwest area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, many visitors will visit Ingleton Waterfalls and then head to White Scar Cave.
2. Ingleborough Cave
Formerly known as Clapham Cave, Ingleborough Cave is another stunning show cave that’s worth seeing. Although, it takes a bit more effort to reach this show cave, compared to seeing White Scar Cave and Stump Cross Caverns. For these other show caves, you’ll simply park at the cave. But, to reach Ingleborough Cave, you’ll need to walk along the Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail from Clapham, which is approx 2.5km one-way.
Of course, the walk is most enjoyable, whilst the cave has many brilliant underground structures to see during a self-guided tour. So, it’s worth the walk!
3. Stump Cross Caverns
The Stump Cross Caverns is another excellent show cave in Yorkshire. This is the most family-friendly show cave as it’s been kitted out with activities and attractions to excite the kiddies. Despite the gimmicky nature of some of the added attractions, they take nothing away from the incredible underground rock formations, winding passageways, awesome tunnels and marvellous caverns you’ll see.
Similar to Ingleborough Cave, you’ll do a self-guided tour at Stump Cross Caverns. Many of the main underground attractions are signposted, so you’ll know exactly what you’re looking at.
Other Caves in Yorkshire
Of course, only a tiny percentage of caves in Yorkshire are show caves. Now, we’ll look at the other best caves to explore in the area. We’ll start with the extraordinary Gaping Gill.
4. Gaping Gill: The Best Cave to Visit in Yorkshire
Gaping Gill is one of the most famous caves in Yorkshire and certainly one of the best caves in the Yorkshire Dales. Not only is Gaping Gill home to the largest cave chamber in the UK; but, it also has the largest underground waterfall in the UK (Rat Hole Waterfall).
Visiting Gaping Gill during a pothole club winch meet is actually one of the most thrilling adventures on offer in the UK. Of course, by caving, it’s possible to explore a considerable amount of the Gaping Gill – Ingleborough cave system, any time of year. But, for the average non-caving person, the Gaping Gill open days allow the opportunity to explore inside the cave.
Also known as a ‘winch meet’, the Bradford Pothole Club and also the Craven Pothole Club, each set up a winch, for roughly one week, once a year. Usually, the Bradford Pothole Club set up their winch at the end of May, whilst the Craven Pothole Club set up their winch in August.
Personally, Beck and I visited Gaping Gill with the Bradford Pothole Club and had a fabulous time. Certainly, exploring Gaping Gill is one of the best cave-related experiences you can have in Yorkshire!
5. Yordas Cave
When it comes to free caves in Yorkshire, Yordas Cave is certainly one of the best of them to visit. Interestingly, during the 19th century, Yordas Cave was actually a Victorian show cave. But, it’s no longer a show cave. Located near Ingleton, Yordas Cave not only features a huge cavern but also a hidden waterfall.
Read more: Yordas Cave – The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide
6. Jubilee Cave
Near Settle, there are two well-known caves to explore around Attermire Scar. One of these caves is called Jubilee Cave and can be easily found by doing the Settle Walk (AKA Settle Caves and Waterfalls Walk). After a short steep climb, you’ll reach the impressive small cave.
7. Victoria Cave
The other cave to see near Settle during the Settle Caves and Waterfalls Walk is Victoria Cave. Unlike Jubilee Cave, there are a few more underground structures to explore at Victoria Cave in Yorkshire. Similar to Jubilee Cave, you’ll need to walk up a steep trail to access this cave. There are many epic small crevasses and cracks to check out at Victoria Cave.
8. Tom Taylors Cave
One of the lesser-known caves in Yorkshire is Tom Taylors Cave. Found in How Stean Gorge in the Nidderdale Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) [guide coming soon], Tom Taylors Cave is a small yet remarkable cave to explore. By doing the How Stean Gorge Walk, you can access the cave from a large opening and explore the fascinating passageway, before squeezing out the other end!
9. Trollers Gill Cave
When it comes to hidden caves in Yorkshire, Trollers Gill Cave is up there with one of the more concealed caves. Trollers Gill itself is a lesser-known limestone ravine near Appletreewick. So, expect little in the way of crowds if you go to explore Trollers Gill Cave, which is a small yet interesting cave to scope out.
10. Mother Shipton’s Cave
Mother Shipton’s Cave is one of the most famous caves in North Yorkshire located in Knaresborough. The cave has actually been operating as a tourist attraction since 1630, making it England’s oldest tourist attraction!
Admittedly, Beck and I couldn’t look past the extortionate prices to visit, what seemed to be, a fairly average cave – when it comes to the high standard of caves in Yorkshire! We thought we could smell a bit of a tourist trap. Regardless, it’s nevertheless one of the most popular caves to visit in Yorkshire.
So, there you have it – the best caves in Yorkshire that don’t necessarily require caving to visit. Below, we’ll look at some of the best caves in Yorkshire for caving.
The Best Caves in Yorkshire For Caving
Indeed, the Yorkshire Dales National Park is a fantastic location for caving. With so many incredible caving systems to explore, the national park is essentially a caver’s playground. Below, we’ll briefly look at the best caves in Yorkshire for caving. As mentioned, Beck and I aren’t cavers, so we haven’t visited these caves.
Just so you know, we haven’t included the Three Counties System in this list because (as the name suggests) it’s not exclusively located in Yorkshire – it also ventures into Lancashire and Cumbria. Interestingly, the Three Counties system is the longest cave system in Great Britain (it’s 89km long with over 40 entrances!)
11. Great Douk Cave
Great Douk Cave is a shallow cave system, which is located on the western slope of Ingleborough. The cave is often reached via a main path starting near the Old Hill Inn in Chapel-le-Dale. During exploration of Great Douk Cave, you’ll see stunning underground waterfalls. Caving at Great Douk Cave is a decent option for beginner cavers.
12. Dow Cave
Dow Cave is an incredible post-glacial stream cave. The cave’s opening is located in Caseker Gill, which, via other tributaries, eventually flows into the River Wharfe at Kettlewell, a village that is right in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. The cave actually connects to Providence Pot at Great Whernside.
Some of the caving at Dow Cave is appropriate for beginners. But, much of the system is better suited to experienced cavers as there are many challenging and difficult manoeuvres.
13. Alum Pot
Alum Pot is an open shaft located on the slopes of Ingleborough in Selside near Horton in Ribblesdale. Indeed, Ingleborough, which is one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks (guide coming soon), is home to many caves and potholes.
Alum Pot is a popular place for beginner cavers. You’ll find the entrance of the cave is located on private property. So, you’ll pay an entrance fee before walking around 1km to reach the cave’s entrance. Underground, Alum Pot connects with Diccan Pot and Long Churns Cave.
14. Mossdale Caverns
Located on the southern slopes of Great Whernside, Mossdale Caverns are infamous for the 1967 tragedy, when six cavers sadly died inside the caverns. It remains the most deadly incident in British caving history.
Geologically speaking, Mossdale Caverns are unique in that the caverns as essentially two caves in one! Since the tragedy, the caverns were closed off and made inaccessible. But, since the turn of the century, the caverns have started to slowly see more cavers exploring the system. Of course, this is a flood-prone cave, so care and caution must be taken when caving at Mossdale Caverns.
Other Things to Do in the Yorkshire Dales
Other than exploring caves, there are many other natural attractions to see and adventures to be enjoyed in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Below, we’ve listed some of our other guides (all coming soon), which detail the best walks, waterfalls and things to do in the Yorkshire Dales.
- Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge
- The Best Walks in the Yorkshire Dales
- The Best Waterfalls in Yorkshire
- Best Things to Do in the Yorkshire Dales
- Best Things to Do in the Nidderdale AONB Guide
FAQs About Caves in Yorkshire
Below, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about caves in Yorkshire.
How Many Caves Are in Yorkshire?
There are around 2,500 known caves in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
What Is the Largest Cave in Yorkshire?
Gaping Gill has the largest underground cave chamber in Yorkshire, let alone in the UK.
Can You Get Into Gaping Gill?
Yes, there are Gaping Gill open days (winch meets), which allow non-cavers to explore inside the cave. Read our Gaping Gill Visitor’s Guide for more information.
Tips For Visiting Caves in Yorkshire and England
- Pack a headtorch: as always, pack a headtorch when you explore caves, so you can actually see the cave’s underground wonders!
- Organised caving trips: if you’ve never caved before or are inexperienced at caving and are interested in caving in Yorkshire, please join the Bradford Pothole Club or the Craven Pothole Club. That way, you can meet experienced cavers and do organised caving trips with them.
- Other caves in England to visit: there are plenty of incredible caves to visit in England. In fact, the nearby Peak District National Park is home to many of the best caves in the UK. Go scope out Thor’s Cave, Dove Holes Cave on the Dovedale Walk and Robin Hood’s Cave on Stanage Edge. In terms of other show cave tours in the UK, again, the Peak District has plenty on offer. You’ve got the famous Blue John Cavern, Peak Cavern and Treak Cliff Cavern (guides coming soon) to explore.
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