Skip to Content

Ingleborough Cave: The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide

Ingleborough Cave: The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide

Ingleborough Cave is one of the most famous show caves in the UK. The cave’s range of fascinating natural underground formations makes it one of the best caves to visit in England. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting Ingleborough Cave in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Read our guides about White Scar Cave, Stump Cross Caverns and Yordas Cave

About Ingleborough Cave

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is home to many spectacular caves. Given the limestone-rich terrain, the Dales are chockablock full of underground wonders. Indeed, Ingleborough Cave is a fine example of a limestone cave and is truly one of the best caves in the Yorkshire Dales.

Other than possessing incredible natural beauty, Ingleborough Cave has an interesting history when it comes to its discovery. Long story short, in 1837, the predecessor of the present owner – James Farrer, discovered the cave. He did so by blowing up a large stalagmite barrier known as ‘The Bay’, which is now the opening and entrance of the show cave. It was this barrier, that was concealing a deep lake within the cave, which was preventing access.

Beyond this barrier, James and his fellow explorers, such as Adam Segwick – a well-known geologist and adviser to Charles Darwin, were the first to discover the mind-blowing underground passages and formations. Soon after the discovery, James made the caves accessible to the public by building paths and bridges. It’s these paths that are still used today to help visitors experience one of the best caves in Yorkshire.

FYI – the caves are also known as the Ingleborough Show Cave and the Ingleborough Caves. Whilst, it was formerly known as Clapham Cave.

Dan walking away from Ingleborough Cave

Where Is Ingleborough Cave?

Ingleborough Cave is located in the southwest corner of the Yorkshire Dales in North Yorkshire. To help you get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the area.

A screenshot of a map of Ingleborough Cave
Ingleborough Cave map (Clapham, Yorkshire)

Ingleborough Cave Prices

The price of Ingleborough Cave tickets is £13 for adults and £6.50 for children aged 3–15 years. There are also discounts for family passes and for older citizens and students. Please check the official website for the most up-to-date prices.

FYI – it isn’t possible to pre-book tickets. You’ll pay on arrival at the cave. Both cash and card payment is accepted.

Ingleborough Cave Opening Hours

The cave is usually open daily from 10am to 4pm or 5pm. Again, we recommend checking the official website for the most up-to-date opening times.

Dan walks near the Ticket office

Ingleborough Cave Walk: Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail

To reach Ingleborough Cave, you’ll need to walk along the Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail from Clapham.

Just so you’re aware, it costs £2.50 per adult and £1 per child (3–15 years old) to use the Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail. You can pay at the Old Saw Mill Cafe located at the entrance of the trail. It’s open daily from 9:30am to 4:30pm. Outside of these hours, there’s a ticket machine where you can make payment with cash or card.

  • Type: Out & Back
  • Distance: 5km (3.1 miles)
  • Time: 3–4 hours (depending on time spent in the cave)
  • Elevation gain: 100m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trailhead: Clapham
  • Map: MyMaps
A screenshot of the Ingleborough Nature Estate Trail

Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail: Route Details

Starting in the gorgeous village of Clapham, you’ll pass by the serene Clapham Falls, which is formed by Clapham Beck. You’ll then arrive at the trailhead for the Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail. After paying, you’ll join the gradually ascending wooded trail.

Along the Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail, you’ll pass a serene lake, a money tree, an area of pretty rhododendrons, ruins of ‘the Grotto’ and old hydraulic pumps.

Eventually, after approx. 2km, you’ll arrive at a wooden gate. After passing through the gate, you’ll soon arrive at Ingleborough Cave.

After paying for your ticket, you’ll collect a helmet and then a staff member will go through a brief introduction. They’ll mainly talk about safety and highlight the main attractions to keep an eye out for. They’ll give you a laminated piece of paper, which details the main attractions in the caves. You’re then free to do a self-guided tour.

Dan and Lauren walk along the Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail
Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail

Visiting Ingleborough Cave: The 7 Best Attractions

There are many amazing underground formations in Ingleborough Cave. Below, we’ll talk about the seven main attractions to scope out during your time underground.

Dan walks towards Ingleborough Cave

1. Eldon Hall

After making your way through the entrance, you’ll soon arrive at the first chamber in the cave, which is called Eldon Hall. It’s named after one of the first explorers of the cave, Lord Eldon. In Eldon Hall, you’ll enjoy immense flowstone formations, especially a structure on your right called the Mushroom Bed.

Beck approaches Eldon Hall in the Ingleborough Caves
Beck approaches Eldon Hall

2. Sword of Damocles and the Beehive

Once you’ve made your way through Eldon Hall, you’ll soon arrive at the Sword of Damocles and the Beehive, which are two of the most outstanding attractions at Ingleborough Cave. The Sword of Damocles is a big stalactite, whilst the Beehive is another impressive flowstone formation.

3. Pillar Hall

After passing these attractions, you’ll arrive at a chamber called Pillar Hall. In this well-lit chamber, you’ll discover many epic stalactites and stalagmites. To your left, you’ll find a deep pool, called the Crystal Pool, where visitors have traditionally thrown in coins.

4. The Abyss and The Showerbath

Further along, you’ll reach the Abyss, which is an approx. 3 metre deep passage. Near the Abyss, you’ll come across the Showerbath (AKA Queen Victoria’s Bloomers), which is a flowstone formation with a constant trickling of water. Interestingly, this formation is a remnant from the last Ice Age!

5. The Witch’s Fingers and The Curtain Range

Once you’ve gawked at the Showerbath, you’ll soon arrive at an incredible series of thin formations resembling curtains. These formations are collectively known as the Curtain Range. During a point on the path, when you’re surrounded by the Curtain Range, there is a prominent leak, dripping down from the ceiling. This drip is known as the The Witch’s Fingers, and, if you get dripped on, it’s thought to bring bad luck!

Lauren walks on a path in the distance, surrounded by interestingly shaped caves, such as The Curtain Range
The Curtain Range

6. The Gothic Arch and Long Gallery

After passing the Curtain Range, you’ll arrive at a T-junction. Turn right to see an amazing passage called the Gothic Arch. You’ll then turn left and follow along the Long Gallery to reach the Pool of Reflections. Along the Long Gallery, you’ll find many uniquely-shaped formations, such as the Coffee Pot and the Horse’s Hoof.

Beck crouching down in the Gothic Arch
The Gothic Arch

7. The Pool Of Reflections

You’ll find The Pool of Reflections at the end of the path located inside Ingleborough Cave. Certainly, it’s a case of waiting for the best ’til last. The reflection of the stalactites in the undisturbed water is incredible. At this point, you’ll turn around and retrace your steps to return to the entrance.

The Pool of Reflections

How to Get to Ingleborough Cave

Now you know all about the highlights of visiting Ingleborough Cave, let’s talk about some logistics. To visit the caves, you’ll need to get to Clapham in the first place. The quickest and easiest way to get to Clapham is to drive there yourself. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend hiring a car.

Car Hire

DiscoverCars.com

If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.

To find out more about renting a car with Discover Cars, read our Discover Cars review and Discover Cars Insurance review.

Public Transport

It’s possible to get to Clapham using public transport, but we don’t recommend it. Depending on where you’re travelling from in the UK, you’ll likely have a long-winded journey to get there. But, if public transport is your only option, you’ll want to get to Leeds or Lancaster.

From Leeds, you’ll get a train to Settle and then a bus (581 Craven Connection) to Clapham village. From Lancaster, you can get a train directly to Clapham station, which is around 1.9km (1.2 miles) from Clapham village. If trains aren’t in operation, from Lancaster, you’ll need to get a bus to Kirkby Lonsdale and then another bus to Clapham village.

Once you’ve arrived in Clapham village, it’s just a short walk through the village to reach the Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail.

We recommend using Google Maps and Trainline to help plan your journey using public transport.

Where to Park For Ingleborough Cave

There isn’t Ingleborough Cave parking as such, as you can’t actually drive to the cave. To visit the cave, you’ll park in Clapham. The main car park in Clapham is located here. It’s a Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority Car Park so charges apply.

Otherwise, if you arrive early enough, it’s possible to find free street-side parking in Clapham. Personally, we found a spot to park here on Station Road near the Clapham Village Store. Although, Clapham is only a small village. So, most people end up paying for parking in the main car park as street-side parking often fills early in the day, especially on the weekend, during school holidays and during summer.

Places to See Nearby

After you’ve visited Ingleborough Cave, what next? Well, most people visit Ingleborough Cave as part of a longer walk or extended adventure. Not far from the cave, there is an amazing gorge (Trow Gill), another epic cave (Gaping Gill) and one of the Yorkshire Three Peaks – Ingleborough. Indeed, many people visit Ingleborough Cave and then continue to do a longer walk to Ingleborough. By doing so, you’ll complete the Ingleborough Walk from Clapham.

Below, we’ll briefly talk about the other highlights of this extended walk. Please find the trail specs and GPS-guided map here.

Trow Gill

Not far from Ingleborough Cave, you’ll soon arrive at Trow Gill. It’s a marvellous limestone gorge, similar to Conistone Dib near Grassington.

Dan walks in Trow Gill during Ingleborough Walk

Gaping Gill

Once you’ve passed through Trow Gill, you’ll soon pass near the entrance of Gaping Gill, which is an extraordinary cave to visit. Gaping Gill is part of the Ingleborough cave system and actually links to Ingleborough Cave.

Amazingly, it’s possible to be winched down Gaping Gill! But, the winch, only operates two weeks of the year.

Indeed, visiting Gaping Gill is an adventure in itself and may require a different day to visit. Of course, you can quickly peer into the opening of Gaping Gill as part of your walk. But, we definitely recommend taking part in the amazing Gaping Gill winch experience, so you can explore the largest cavern and underground waterfall in the UK.

Read more: Gaping Gill – The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide (How to Visit)

Ingleborough

After passing Gaping Gill, the trail ascends to Little Ingleborough. After arriving at this peak, you’ll then continue towards the summit of Ingleborough. You’ll be met by a large flat plateau at the peak of Ingleborough. On the vast plateau, you’ll enjoy excellent views of the Forest of Bowland, the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District (coming soon) and Morecambe Bay.

Read more: Ingleborough Walk From Clapham – The Ultimate Guide

Dan atop Ingleborough

Where to Stay

Clapham is only a small village, so accommodation is fairly limited. Nevertheless, The New Inn is an outstanding 18th century country inn, which is, by far, the most popular and highly-rated accommodation option in Clapham. The beautiful country inn features a restaurant, two bars and modern facilities.

The exterior of the New Inn in Clapham

Otherwise, the Swallows Nest Bed and Breakfast is your next best accommodation option in Clapham. If you’re struggling for accommodation in Clapham, it’s probably best to stay in Ingleton, which is the next village over with more accommodation options.

Below, we’ll talk about the best budget, mid-range and luxury options in Ingleton.

  • Budget – Ingleton Hostel: the best budget option in Ingleton is Ingleton Hostel, which is conveniently located near the Ingleton Waterfalls Trail.
  • Mid-range – Craven Heifer Ingleton: this beautiful country inn is one of the most affordable private room options in Ingleton. Additionally, Craven Heifer Ingleton is one of the most highly-rated accommodation options in the village.
  • Mid-range – The Wheatsheaf Inn: you’ll want to stay at The Wheatsheaf Inn if you want to experience the most popular accommodation option in Ingleton. Indeed, this B&B is an excellent place to stay.
  • Luxury – The Marton Arms: the rustic-style Marton Arms is a brilliant country inn to stay at. It’s located just outside of the town of Ingleton. So, it’s the perfect place to stay if you’re after something a little more quiet and removed. You’re also just a stone’s throw away from the impressive Yordas Cave.

FAQs

Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about Ingleborough Cave.

How Long Is the Ingleborough Nature Trail?

It’s a roughly one-way 2.5km walk.

How Long Does Ingleborough Caves Take To Walk Through?

Usually, it takes 45–60 minutes to explore the caves.

Can Dogs Go in Ingleborough Cave?

Yes, providing they’re kept on a lead and well-behaved.

Who Owns Ingleborough Caves?

It appears that the Ingleborough Estate owns and manages the cave.

Is Ingleborough Cave Worth Visiting?

Ingleborough Cave is one of the best caves in the UK to visit. Compared with other show caves in Yorkshire, we think it was better than Stump Cross Caverns; but, perhaps, not quite as good as the White Scar Caves (AKA Ingleton caves). Regardless, if you like exploring natural wonders, we consider the cave a must-visit. Personally, we think the price tag was justified.

What to Wear and Take

Below, you’ll find our gear essentials for exploring the great outdoors.

Osprey Skarab 30
Osprey Skarab 30

The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.

Osprey Ultralight Raincover
Osprey Ultralight Raincover

A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.

GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle

The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.

BUFF Original Ecostretch
BUFF Original Ecostretch

The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.

Sony Cybershot RX100 VII
Sony Cybershot RX100 VII

Capture epic photos and videos with the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII. This is hands-down the best compact camera. We love using this simple point-and-shoot camera when we’re hiking as it’s lightweight and durable.

To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.

Other Yorkshire Dales Guides

Hardraw Force

For more information about the best things to do in the Yorkshire Dales, click the button below. Otherwise, to help you get started, read our 42 Best Yorkshire Dales Walks or 48 Best Yorkshire Dales Waterfalls guides.

Best Villages to See in the Yorkshire Dales

Bonus Tips

  • The cave is safe if you follow the rules: for your safety and to ensure everyone visiting has an enjoyable trip, make sure to follow the rules. This includes staying on the path, wearing your helmet and avoiding touching the caves.
  • Other Ingleborough walks: in this guide, we’ve talked about the Ingleborough Walk from Clapham, which includes passing Ingleborough Cave. Most of the other popular walks in the area are simply route variations on reaching the peak of Ingleborough. These route variations include the Ingleborough Walk from Ingleton, from Horton in Ribbesdale and from the Old Hill Inn. Otherwise, you could take on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, which climbs Ingleborough, Pen-y-ghent and Whernside.
  • Other caves in England to visit: the nearby Peak District National Park is also home to many amazing caves. Go check out Thor’s Cave, Dove Holes Cave on the Dovedale Walk and Robin Hood’s Cave on Stanage Edge. In terms of show caves in the Peak District, you’ve got the famous Blue John Cavern, Peak Cavern and Treak Cliff Cavern to explore.

Read about the Best Caves in Yorkshire.

Daniel Piggott

Physiotherapist turned travel blogger, Dan is a keen hiker, natural wonder seeker and world traveller. He loves writing travel guides to help his readers explore the most beautiful destinations in the world.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *