The Peak District is, remarkably enough, the world's second-most visited National Park and one of the top destinations for caving and mine exploration: a hub for caving clubs, adventure companies and individuals looking to explore the world beneath our feet. Pete Knight, a locally-based caver and tour guide, describes the appeal.
This beautiful region has everything from caves suitable for novice trips to underground assault courses with some of the most advanced rope work found in the country. Add to this the chance to descend centuries into our past and explore long abandoned mines, and you have a stunning variety to keep even the most avid caver occupied for years.
Caving and mine exploration are popular activities in the Peak District, and there are numerous activity companies, private guides, caving clubs and show caves/mines catering to the demand.
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Introduced to caving in Missouri in 2001, Pete Knight has been a speleo addict ever since. As a professional caver, he is a holder of the Cave Instructor Certificate; the UK’s highest caving qualification. He’s regularly exploring or working underground in the Peak District, Yorkshire Dales and North Wales. Caving and mine exploration is a real passion for Pete and he is a member of...
Peak Cavern (aka the Devil's Arse) is a show cave in Castleton. By joining a caving club trip or hiring a local instructor you can enter the main system beyond the tour route. The cave contains stunning formations, mineral deposits, thundering waterways and the sloppiest mud crawls you've ever experienced. Even better, the trip is mainly horizontal in nature, keeping kit requirements down. A must do trip for all cavers.
P8 is a vertical rabbit warren of a trip. The main route follows the water down pitches to the far reaches. Venture up into the roof as you go along to discover alternative routes and abandoned passages. P8 never fails to entertain and has a great variety of passage and technicality.
This one is for the experts only. At around 145 metres top to bottom, Titan is the UK's largest natural underground shaft. Titan forms part of the Peak/Speedwell system and is accessed from the surface via a 50-metre entrance shaft and then in two long pitches. Routes from Titan out to Peak Cavern and JH Mine are popular through trips but none should be undertaken lightly.
A truly amazing place for those with the skill and a head for heights!
The Giant's Hole system is long and varied. The top sections are regularly used to take people on their first caving experience and a good few hours of fun can be had exploring up here. The main part of the system follows on from the 8-metre shaft of Garlands Pot. The round trip is a circular route leaving and arriving back at the pot. En route the caver can enjoy such delights as the 600 metres Crabwalk, climbing cascades, the soggy Giant's Windpipe and a pull through abseil.
A magnificent underground space accessed from the village of Bradwell in the Hope Valley. There are some great horizontal sections plus some challenging verticals. The system here is still being explored with new passageways being discovered.
Best times to go:
Caving can be undertaken throughout the year, the shelter of the cave environment made the sport a draw for summer climbers in the past. Winter of course brings a higher chance of rainfall and snow melt which will effect the water levels in active systems but rainfall is something that will need to be checked on every trip, whatever the season.
One thing about being underground is that the air temperature is almost constant all year, around 10°C. This will cool you off as you head under in the summer but will feel almost warm on your face as you enter in the depths of winter.
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