Yorkshire Dales Caving
Welcome to the 3 Peaks the heart of caving in the Yorkshire Dales. Below the Peaks of Ingleborough, Whernside and Penygent lies some of the most spectatcular caving in Britain.
From simple horizontal caving to more advanced Vertical caving, Potholing, the Yorkshire Dales presents opportunity on every level. Combine this with expert Guidance and Instruction, and the opportunity for the novice is endless.
Thistle and Runscar Caves
GR SD764 797
Grade 1 / one
Although actually two distinct caves for all intents and purposes Thistle and Runscar Caves can be treated as one system. This system is undoubtedly the best in the dales for younger children / special needs groups although it is showing the signs of overuse and can be busy. As a trip through Runscar entails coming to the surface a number of times there are good opportunities to vary the trip to suit the group’s reaction.
Thistle cave is, almost an all-weather cave and requires a long period of extreme weather to make it impassable. Runscar Cave does carry an active streamway but this does not carry a large amount of water nor does it react quickly to weather conditions. There are tight exits at the lower ends of both caves which can be daunting The entrance / exit at the top of Thistle Main Cave is located in a collapsed shakehole and can be difficult as it is becoming very eroded. Some of the top entrances into Runscar are rather unstable and only the large main entrances should be used (and care exercised).
There are no access restrictions. Minibuses are best parked by the bridge at the road junction where they should be safe from theft given the popular nature of the spot with tourists. The caves can be surprising awkward to find. From the road Thistle is on the left whilst Runscar is on the right; both combine in the obvious stream which leads down to the culverts under the road. The easiest entrance to see from the road is the lower entrance of Thistle Main Cave which is under a small crag, topped by a tree, above the small stream valley.
Great Douk Cave
Chapel le Dale
GR SD 747 770
This cave offers a good introduction to a stream passage, although the through trip with its final crawl may be a bit daunting for complete novices.
As virtually the entire cave consists of a single stream passage, with a large catchment area, which responds quickly to rainfall this cave must be avoided in unsettled weather or following rainfall.
There are no access restrictions providing the path is followed. After parking in the layby just uphill of the Hill Inn the Inglebrough footpath, by the small pumping station, should be followed. Turn left after the second gate and the entrance will be found at the bottom of the large shakehole where the stream is seen emerging.
No tackle, other than emergency equipment is needed.
The cave is best entered via a ledge on the right of the small waterfall. The large walking passage is then followed, under the skylight of Little Douk Pot, passing a number of small cascades. After approximately 800metres a short oxbow is taken on the right to bypass a wet crawl, after this the walking height of the passage soon degenerates into an increasingly low crawl. Passing by a small stream inlet on the left, a manhole sized hole in the roof leads to a dry junction. Turning left here quickly leads to the Middle Washfold Cave exit whilst turning right leads, via a very awkward squeeze, back to the stream and the Middle Washfold sink.