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The Caves Of Cumbria

Cumbria and The Lake District are covered with caves, ravines and gullies that litter the mountain landscapes. From old abandoned quarries to natural cracks in the earth, there are many that are worth your time exploring during your visit.

Its important to note before exploring any of the places mentioned below that these caves can be dangerous, littered with sharp rocks and sometimes deep water. Always take extreme care when navigating any of the caves and ensure you have appropriate lighting equipment with you. Its always best to go during daylight hours.

1. Cathedral Cavern in Little Langdale

This cave is a small network of linked quarries in the stunning landscape of Langdale. The cave takes it's name from the main chamber, which is forty foot high room that is illuminated by two windows in the rock. These allow for dramatic beams of light to spill into the main chamber during certain times of day, almost like a Cathedral. The inter-linking tunnels do require lighting to navigate, with one of them nearly 400 feet long.

Cathedral Cavern


Image Credit: Melvin Nicholson

2. Rydal Cave above Rydal Water

Rydal cave is another former working quarry and over looks it's name-sake water, Rydal Water. The cavern sits on the north edge of Loughrigg Fell and can be accessed from Rydal Water or as you descend from the fell itself. You can't miss this one. The entrance to the cave is an enormous gaping mouth and to get into the cave itself requires some dexterity as you use the stepping-stones to cross the shallow water at the mouth. The cave doesn't go much deeper than the main chamber, with views across the Nab Scar and Rydal as your reward. Lovely stuff.

Rydal Cave

3. The Priest Hole Cave in the Central Fells

This cavern is perhaps the most difficult to reach and should absolutely not be attempted by anyone without climbing experience or proper equipment. The cave sits on Dove Crag, a 792m peak in the Central Fells range of mountains. The cave can be difficult to reach as it is off the beaten track but the views from inside the cavern are truly superb.

Climbers often spend the night here once they have arrived and there is even a visitor's book inside. It can be very difficult to find, especially in bad conditions and is marked on large-scale OS maps. It is also not mentioned in any of Alfred Wainwright's guides to the Lake District, suggesting that he did not know of its existence.

Priest Hole Cave


Image Credit: Instagram kearaellen

4. Honister Slate Mine

This is England’s last working slate mine and serves as a popular tourist attraction year round. There are several things to do here including the awesome Infinity Bridge. A cable strung 2,000 feet above the valley floor that you can cross. Only for the hardiest of visitors.

There are mine tours operated throughout the mine and you can even climb along the walls taking you deep into the heart of a Lake District mountain. Exciting stuff indeed.

Honister Slate Mine
These hidden gems of Cumbria are truly worth exploring during your visit. Please do take care and know your own limits. Even the most experienced of climbers can encounter difficulty when scaling caves, mountains and gullies. Have fun exploring but overall do remain safe when out and about.

If you'd like to find somewhere to stay to explore these natural features, check out some places to stay HERE.

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