Ingleborough Cave - About the Cave

Eldon Hall - photograph by Dave Ryall

The imposing entrance to Ingleborough Cave has always been an obvious feature, however until 1837 the secrets of the Cave were hidden behind large natural calcite dams beyond which water had ponded, submerging much of the immediate passage beyond.

Geology of Ingleborough

Following a severe flood, it was realised that large passages had to exist behind these dams, and so the local land owner James Farrer set workmen on to break down the dams, releasing the trapped water, and revealing an extensive wonderland of sculpted passages and beautiful cave formations which have been delighting visitors ever since.

The Cave was once the outflow for the streams that flow through the world-famous 17 km Gaping Gill cave system, but these are now running at a lower level allowing the original passages to be safely explored by visitors. A well-laid concrete path allows you to traverse comfortably for over half a kilometre into the mountain, and discrete lighting displays the calcite flows, the stalactites, and the stalagmites at their very best. This really is one of the country's natural wonders. An expert guide will help you to interpret the many features, enhancing your experience further.

The Mushroom Beds - photograph by David Ryall

At the end of the tourist path the cave passage is seen disappearing into the distance on its way to Gaping Gill, which itself wasn't fully descended until 1895 when French speleologist Edouard Alfred Martel was able to lower himself down by rope ladder using only a candle for illumination. Eventually, after many years of exploration, the connection was finally made between Ingleborough Cave and Gaping Gill by teams of cavers from the Bradford Pothole Club and Cave Diving Group in 1983. Even after all this time, explorations in the far extremities of the system continue to unravel the secrets of this hidden world. In fact, cavers unearthed remains of a wooly rhinoceros from just beyond the end of the path as recently as 2001!