The rugged landscapes and natural limestone areas dotted around the UK make for some fantastic subterranean environments to explore. Delving deep into a network of caves and underground tunnels, experiencing pitch darkness, wading through secret lakes and admiring the natural beauty of unseen rock formations, stalagmites and stalactites can be an other-worldy experience and an adventure unlike any other.
Staying safe when you head underground is of course essential so always make sure you join an organised trip or caving club to ensure you do it safely, learn the techniques and skills necessary and also make the most of the magic of the subterranean world. Here are some of the best spots in the UK to try caving:
Cheddar Gorge caves, Somerset
One of the most famously rugged environments in England, with awesome cliffs, Britain’s biggest gorge and a breathtaking network of caverns which are perfect for caving. Visitors can enjoy a serene walking tour through some impressive caves but for real adventure you can get down and dirty with some extreme caving, fully kitted out to climb, clamber and crawl through a tight-knit underground world. Experienced teams and long-established safety features make this the perfect place for an introduction to caving, with a variety of caving experience days available for visitors to book.
Burrington Combe, near Bristol, Somerset
Somerset and the areas around Bristol are something of a hotspot for caving thanks to the range of limestone hills known as The Mendips. Limestone is one of the essential ingredients for excellent caves with water underneath carving out eerie tunnels and awe-inspiring caverns. The beautiful valley of Burrington Combe offers caving adventures suitable for both beginners and more advanced adventurers, with the dry Goatchurch Cavern boasting impressive stalactites and also a testing sequence of chambers to crawl and climb through. The nearby Swildon’s Hole offers the chance to get wet and wild, floating through the free-flowing stream and crawling through some bewitching waterfalls.
The Peak District, Derbyshire
The Peak District boasts a range of both natural and mined underground caves, including Peak Cavern, the deepest in the country and one of the most impressive ‘show caves’ which can be explored on foot. But the hills of Derbyshire also hide some more closely guarded secrets in the form of intriguing caves which can only be explored by adventurous potholers using ropes and harnesses as you walk, climb and scramble through more than 300 million years of geological history.
Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire
The limestone scenery of the Yorkshire Dales hides a stunning network of natural caverns and geological wonders which can only be fully appreciated by heading underground. Leck Fell boasts more than 40 miles of caves and tunnels, making it one of the longest caving networks in the country, while the famous Gaping Gill pothole near to Ingleborough offers a challenging route for even the most expert of cavers, with a cathedral chamber and crashing waterfall making it well worth the trip.
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