Geologically, the western Yorkshire Dales peaks are all of millstone grit capping limestone, and as a consequence the area is also popular with cavers and pot holers exploring the innumerable cave systems which have been formed by the streams and rivers running off the fells. Below are details of two show caves that are well worth a visit, open to the general public and near The Traddock Hotel.
Ingleborough Cave - Clapham
Until 1837 the secrets of Ingleborough Cave were hidden behind large natural calcite dams behind which water had ponded, submerging much of the passage beyond. These were broken down following a flood, to reveal a 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 it has long been abandoned by the main stream, allowing it to be explored safely 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 stalagmites at their best. This really is one of the country's natural wonders. An expert guide will help you to interpret the features, enhancing your experience.
At the end of the path, the cave will be seen disappearing into the distance. 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!
White Scar Caves - Ingleton
White Scar Cave is a show cave beneath White Scars just outside Ingleton. Visitors to the caves walk through an artificially enlarged fissure to meet a natural stream passage - containing underground waterfalls, stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones and other natural limestone formations. Finally, a recently excavated tunnel and walkway brings visitors to the impressive Battlefield Chamber, a huge boulder-strewn cavern which was formed by glacial flood waters during the last ice age.
The Battlefield Cavern marks the end of the show cave as open to the general public, but for cavers and potholers there are miles more passages and caverns to explore (with the system apparently taking in feeder streams from Greenwood Pot near Crina Bottom and Boggarts’ Roaring Holes on Newby Moss).