Gaping Gill

The Shaft is 100m deep; the edges of the opening are unstable. Do not attempt to walk along these ledges they can be very slippy. If you wish to see the shaft in its full glory it is recommended you visit when the Winch meets are taking place, see the club websites for details. or

Please do not be tempted to explore side passages without experienced guidance. INJURY OR DEATH can result.

A brief history of Gaping Gill

The first attempt to descend Gaping Gill took place in 1845 when John Birkbeck of Settle was able to reach a ledge 55m down the shaft, known today as Birkbeck's Ledge.

It wasn't until 1895 when Gaping Gill was fully descended for the first time by the French speleologist Edouard Alfred Martel. He achieved this using a rope ladder, and with a candle for illumination. 100 years later, in 1995, the Bradford Pothole Club celebrated this fine achievement by descending the pothole in period costume, and using 100m of purpose built wood and rope ladder. The Yorkshire Ramblers Club was next to visit Gaping Gill in 1896. They lowered cavers into the Main Chamber via a pulley system, and explored the Main Chamber, discovering Old East Passage and West Chamber.

In 1908 the Yorkshire Speleological Association discovered South Passage and many of the other passages in its vicinity. They also discovered a new entrance into the system,' Flood Exit' Pot. There are currently ten other entrances into the Gaping Gill system.

After many years of exploration, the dream of making the connection between Gaping Gill and Ingleborough Cave was finally realised in 1983 by teams of cavers from the Bradford Pothole Club and Cave Diving Group. A detailed 3D model of the chamber has been created using an industrial laser rangefinder which showed that its volume is comparable to the size of York Minster.