Potholing in England

Challenge yourself to go potholing and explore some fascinating caves in England

Potholing in England

Potholing is the activity of going into underground caves, caverns and tunnels to explore them. Luckily the UK has a range of possibilities for potholing, from the beginner to the professional. There are many types of caves, from natural limestone to mines and so much more.

When you go potholing, there are some necessities that you will need, like a helmet with a primary light source so your head is protected and your hands are free (provided). When it comes to footwear, preferable boots in drier caves and rubber boots in wet caves, it is best to wear fleece as a base layer, thermal underwear, jacket, and over trousers.

Limestone is generally the country-rock for caving and mining, but it doesn’t stop there. In England, there are a lot of different locations to go potholing. Make sure to add some adventure to your Private Tour of England.

Go Potholing for a true adventure on your Private Tour of England

The top five places to go potholing in England;

1. The Yorkshire Dales offer many caves to explore, but Alum Pot is one of the most popular ones. It's an 80m open shaft, and to reach it, you will find yourself on a journey through the Long Churns Cave and down the Dolly Tubs drop. When you arrive in the sunlit cavern, you have the opportunity to abseil and cross the centre to ‘The Bridge’.

Where to Stay
The Dales are a scenic drive to the City of York; our recommended hotel here is the rather imposing Grand Hotel York. The property is perfectly located with a spa, cooking school and slick cocktail bar; The 1906 Bar.

Swinton Park, a castle and estate in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. More of a destination than a hotel, Swinton offers cottage accommodation and large suites. There is a renowned cookery school and outdoor adventures to include whilst staying, such as; river fishing, falconry, hiking, pony trekking and game shooting.

Other great places to stay, include The Black Swan at Oldstead, a high-end pub dining with rooms. This establishment is on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors.

Grantly Hall Hotel offers the classic stately home experience with celebrity chef Shaun Rankin, a Yorkshireman fond of the sea. After a day of potholing, enjoy the Three Graces Spa, and relax before your high-end dinner. Grantly Hall has five bars and 47 rooms.

2. Renowned as one of the UK’s longest caves, Gaping Gill's main chamber is 13 miles long, with access down a 322 ft deep hole with fell beck flowing over into the cave. Interestingly, its first descent was made in 1865 by Edouard Martel, who communicated to the surface team via telephone. If you want to discover this place, you will make the same descent as Mr Martel using a winch.

Where to Stay
Gaping Gill is in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, and the above selection of recommendations applies. Although you may wish to be a little closer to Gaping Gill, we suggest The Lister Arms at Malham, a classic British inn with comfortable rooms and flagged stone floors. Another superb option is The Coach and Horses in Bolton by Bowland, a great little village pub with microbrewery focused on quality pub food.

3. Beneath the Royal Forest of Dean, you can find the Clearwell Caves in Gloucestershire. This is a natural cave system mined for over 4.000 years, including a sound chamber, skeleton pools, and bat churn. You can go for a gentle discovery of the system or discover some of the passageways on a guided tour. Suppose you want to get an adrenaline rush. In that case, you can choose the deep level caving experience that allows you to walk, crawl, and descend through tunnels, following natural and artificial routes that miners would have had to follow.

Where to Stay
Clearwell Caves is on the edge of beautiful Wye Valley and a short hop from Chepstow Castle and Tintern Abbey across the border in Wales. It is also 45 minutes away from the Cotswolds, see the best hotels in the Cotswolds and a scenic drive to Gloucester.

Thornbury Castle Hotel and Restaurant offers that medieval experience. At the same time, Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa has famed for its quality food and lovely gardens. Whatley is only a short drive to the attractive market town of Tetbury.

4. It turns out that one of the most original caving experiences in the country takes place in Wild Wookey, Somerset. This place has been designed and created by experienced and licensed cavers and offers an insight into technical European-style adventure caving. You can expect abseils, crossing deep water, incredible views and witnessing geological and archaeological features.

Where to Stay
Staying in Bath is convenient when potholing in Wild Wookey. Several options include beautiful B&Bs and small luxury hotels. Our recommendations are the fabulous Royal Crescent Hotel in the centre of Bath and the Bath Priory Hotel on the outskirts.

5. Famous for its stunning Blue John stone, Treak Cliff Cavern in Castleton was used as a working mine 300 years ago. Now it’s an absolute must-see visitor attraction in the Hope Valley area of Derbyshire. Near to Chatsworth House.

Where to Stay
The gem of the Peak District National Park is The Cavendish Hotel in Baslow. This 4-star property on the Chatsworth House Estate has everything you would expect from a country hotel. A fine restaurant, tastefully decorated rooms and delicious afternoon tea is served daily in the refined Gallery Restaurant.

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