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Though still a niche sport, caving offers huge variety, on the one hand combining the best of climbing, scrambling, canyoning and abseiling, on the other interest, discovery and learning. For the complete novice or the seasoned caver it offers true adventure, rewards curiosity and represents the last frontier in the UK, with determined explorers pushing leads and discovering new caves year after year.


Every caving day should begin with a big breakfast and end over a pint, what happens in between is up to you. What draws someone to explore underground varies from person to person, be it mining history, geology, thrill-seeking or being part of a tight team.

With hundreds of caves and mines to explore, from easily accessed show caves to adventurous vertical systems, the Peak District offers myriad trip options and ample scope for progression. A day or weekend of guided caving makes underground adventure accessible, whatever level of challenge you're after.

Though every cave is unique, and the thrill of the new excites us most, here are 3 of our favourite Peak District caving adventures that keep us coming back:

Carlswark Cavern


The largest system in the cave-rich dale of Stoney Middleton, Carlswark boasts beautiful, labyrinthine passages roofed with fossils, abundant stalagmites and stalactites and is justly popular with novice groups. Its diverse mined and natural passages provide sustained interest, with visible legacies of the area’s lead mining past and nationally important Gigantoproductus fossils in staggering number. Some testing navigation, optional crawls, squeezes and water-filled passages sate the more adventurous.

A through trip from the Eyam side to the Stoney Middleton side, including an abseil from the surface, is an excellent introduction to vertical caving, while a round trip visiting the sump is an adventurous horizontal trip. An excursion via the Dynamite Series to Flower Pot is strictly for the svelte.


Giants Hole


A cave carrying a stream is 'active', water travels underground from a swallet (where a stream disappears underground) to the resurgence where it resurfaces. The largest of the swallets capturing the drainage from Rushup Edge, Giants Hole has everything for the sporting caver armed with a favourable weather forecast.

Groups of all ages and abilities can enjoy the beautiful walking-sized passages and magnificent chambers, while trips beyond Garlands Pot, where the stream enters a 600 metre-long narrow canyon, to the far reaches challenge the more adventurous caver. At over 2km in length and 150m depth there's much to explore over multiple visits.

The 'Round Trip' is a British classic. Beautiful throughout, a descent of Garlands Pot precedes a traverse in the roof of the canyon to an abseil upstream of the aptly named Great Relief Passage. From there short climbs lead to the wet Giants Windpipe, and further abseils and ladder climbs bring you back to Garlands.

P8


(seldom referred to by its less prosaic name of 'Jackpot') is another active swallet and exciting from the off. Entered by down-climbing a small waterfall, you're soon on exposed traverses, abseils and ladder climbs above an ever-present, cascading streamway. With numerous trips possible within the system, all offering thrilling situations, P8 never disappoints and is on every caver's must-do list.

A return trip to the sump is a committing day's caving in fine weather and 'sporting' in high water. Recent digs have discovered new extensions to this fine cave, while divers continue to push for the elusive connection to the resurgence in the valley floor.

Author


Find out more about the caving adventures to be had through Pure Outdoor here: https://www.pureoutdoor.co.uk/activities/peak-district-caving-courses

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