The adventure specialists

Caving & Potholing

Discover a hidden world and spectacular cave systems beneath the surface of the Yorkshire Dales

Beneath the Yorkshire Dales are some of the finest and most spectacular cave systems in the UK! An often misunderstood sport, caving offers the chance to explore a truly stunning and unique environment of underground rivers and streams, vast quiet chambers adorned with thousands of delicate stalactites hanging from the roof, deep shafts reverberating with the sound of the waterfalls crashing down them, cascades, and walls rich in fossils.

Here at Yorkshire Dales Guides, caving is our greatest passion and we would love to show you the underground world we've come to know so well through years of our own explorations in both the UK and abroad. Whether you fancy a gentle introduction to caving, or would like a more challenging adventure, we are certain we can cater for your needs! Caving is a perfect year-round activity as the temperature underground remains a constant ~8ºC.​

QUICK FACT: Many people who visit the Yorkshire Dales won't know that one of the longest cave systems in the world can be found under the hills between Kirkby Lonsdale and Ingleton. The Three Counties cave system is now well over 80km long and new sections of cave are still being found to this day. It is currently the 28th longest cave system in the world!

NEW FILM - January 2021

'the world beneath your feet'

The wonders of what lies beneath your feet, in the incredibly beautiful caves of the Yorkshire Dales.

A film made by Yorkshire Dales Guides and Hot Aches Productions.

Caving & potholing

Choose your experience:

Explore Caving

Our introductory level caving experience suitable for complete beginners. Join us on an amazing and awe-inspiring journey beneath the mountains!

Adventure Caving

Our intermediate level caving experience, involving a longer caving trip and some vertical work. Suitable for novices with a zest for adventure.

Vertical Caving

An intermediate level caving experience, with an emphasis on 'the vertical!' Expect several underground shafts and a more challenging (but thrilling) day out.

Advanced Caving

As the name suggests, our advanced caving trips visit some of the deeper and classic potholes of the Yorkshire Dales! Previous experience and SRT proficiency required.

SRT Training

Develop your skills at our purpose built indoor training facility on a 1 or 2-day Single Rope Techniques (SRT) course and learn the skills to tackle the potholes of the Dales!

Cave instructor training & assessment

Our specious SRT (vertical caving) facility and office is ideal for cave instructor training or assessment.

Cave safety courses

Learn advanced safety skills and caving techniques. Our bespoke courses are ideal for anyone wanting to get into caving more seriously and learn the skills to lead their own personal caving trips.

Rigging for rescue

Our Spacious SRT (vertical caving) facility is perfect for practicing and perfecting the skills you may need underground, or on expedition.

Explore caving

Our introductory level caving experience suitable for complete beginners. You can choose whether to join an open group session (see our calendar on the home page for details of upcoming trips) or have your own privately guided trip tailored to your own wishes and abilities. All our Explore Caving sessions include stunning clean-washed streamways, waterfalls and cascades, some very simple climbs, chambers adorned with formations and fossils, and ‘optional’ crawls and squeezes for those looking for some fun and a bit of a challenge.

Sessions normally last a half-day with all kit provided, or why not make a day of it and explore a different cave system in the afternoon. Classic venues include Runscar and Thistle cave at Ribblehead with their fun ‘through-trips’ (i.e. going in one entrance and exiting another), Upper and Lower Long Churn Caves near the magnificent Alum Pot, and Great Douk Cave with its half-mile long streamway and impressive entrance.

Explore Caving
The fun crawls of Thistle Cave, Ribblehead
Dr Bannisters Handbasin
Dr Bannister's Handbasin, Upper Long Churn Cave
Valley Entrance in Kingsdale
Entrance to Valley Entrance in Kingsdale 
About to enter Great Douk Cave in Chapel-le-Dale
About to enter Great Douk Cave in Chapel-le-dale
Upper Long Churn Cave
Sporting fun in Upper Long Churn Cave
The adventure begins at Yorkshire Dales Guides HQ
Where you will begin your caving adventure at YDG!! :-)
The superb streamway of Upper Long Churn Cave
The superb streamway of Upper Long Churn Cave
The impressive main river passage of Goyden Pot (Photo: Andy Jackson)
The impressive main river passage of Goyden Pot (Photo: Andy Jackson)
About to explore Runscar Cave, Ribblehead
About to explore Runscar Cave, Ribblehead

Adventure caving

Looking out into the awe-inspiring Alum Pot main shaft
Looking out into the awe-inspiring Alum Pot main shaft
Descending the greasy slab, Alum Pot (Photo: Mark Burkey)
Descending the greasy slab, Alum Pot (Photo: Mark Burkey)
The Kingsdale Master Cave (Photo: Mark Burkey)
The Kingsdale Master Cave (Photo: Mark Burkey)
Alum Pot
Alum Pot - words don't do it justice! :-)
About to enter the Long Churn Caves
All geared up and about to enter the Long Churn Caves
All smiles after a brilliant trip in the Churns
All smiles after a brilliant trip in the Churns :-)
Descending into the depths of Bull Pot of the Witches
Descending into the depths of Bull Pot of the Witches
Feeling festive in Hagg Gill Pot
Feeling festive in Hagg Gill Pot

You may have already tried caving before and loved it, or fancy a bit more of a challenge! Our adventure caving trips are a step up from our explore caving sessions and involve a short vertical section to take the intrepid explorer deeper into the cave system, where magnificent sights await. The vertical section (known as a ‘pitch’) will be anywhere between 6m and 15m in height and be tackled with the aid of a ladder and lifeline, so no previous experience is required.

Venues include the Long Churns/Alum Pot caves with its spectacular 60m deep shaft, Valley Entrance/Kingsdale Master Cave with its stunning canyon-like streamway, Sunset Hole, Calf Holes, and Bull Pot of the Witches which is part of the 80km long Three Counties System. Although classed as an intermediate level trip, these caves are suitable for novices with a reasonable level of fitness and a spirit for adventure! You may wish to choose an open group session (see our calendar on the home page for details of upcoming trips) or have your own privately guided trip tailored to your own wishes and abilities.

Vertical caving

The Yorkshire Dales is without doubt the finest region for vertical caving (potholing) in the UK! To undertake one of these very special caving trips you will need to have a good level of fitness and ideally have tried caving before. The session will last for much of the day, and include two or more vertical sections to negotiate on ladder and lifeline to delve deeper into the cave system.

Venues include Sell Gill Holes with its three pitches leading to a spectacular chamber, New Goyden Pot with its two pitches leading into a beautiful huge underground river, Alum Pot to the ‘Bridge’ and Heron Pot where a canyon like through trip descent can be achieved (weather conditions allowing).

The 15m pitch in Sunset Hole under Ingleborough (Photo: Mark Burkey)
The 15m pitch in Sunset Hole under Ingleborough (Photo: Mark Burkey)
Heron Pot getting vertical (Photo: Mark Burkey)
Heron Pot getting vertical (Photo: Mark Burkey)
The 6m pitch into the Kingsdale Master Cave (Photo: Mark Burkey)
The 6m pitch into the Kingsdale Master Cave (Photo: Mark Burkey)
About to enter the Kingsdale Master Cave (Photo: Dave Ryall)
About to enter the Kingsdale Master Cave (Photo: Dave Ryall)
'Definitely' a place for a group photo :-)
'Definitely' a place for a group photo :-)
The 2nd pitch in Sell Gill Holes
The 2nd pitch in Sell Gill Holes
The magnificent river passage of New Goyden Pot (Photo: Andy Jackson)
The magnificent river passage of New Goyden Pot (Photo: Andy Jackson)

Advanced caving

A refreshing descent of Swinsto Hole, Kingsdale (Photo: Mark Burkey)
A refreshing descent of Swinsto Hole, Kingsdale (Photo: Mark Burkey)
The spectacular main chamber of Gaping Gill (Photo: Mark Burkey)
The spectacular main chamber of Gaping Gill (Photo: Mark Burkey)
A beautiful streamway in the 3-Counties System (Photo: Mark Burkey)
A beautiful streamway in the 3-Counties System (Photo: Mark Burkey)
A 40m pitch in Aquamole Pot, Kingsdale (Photo: Mark Burkey)
A 40m pitch in Aquamole Pot, Kingsdale (Photo: Mark Burkey)
Technical rope work in Jingling Pot, Kingsdale
Technical rope work in Jingling Pot, Kingsdale
About to descend into Bull Pot, Kingsdale
About to descend into Bull Pot, Kingsdale
Simpsons Pot
Emerging after a brilliant 'through-trip' through Simpsons Pot
Alum Pot main shaft
Alone in space?....Alum Pot main shaft (Photo: Mark Burkey)

The Yorkshire Dales is without doubt the finest region for vertical caving (potholing) in the UK! Our advanced caving sessions are for those with previous experience of caving, and who are proficient in Single Rope Techniques (SRT). You may have a cave on your list you’ve been wanting to visit for ages but not have the equipment or confidence to tackle, or you might just be visiting the area and want to experience the very best potholes the Yorkshire Dales has to offer. Classic venues include the famous Gaping Gill, Meregill Hole, Juniper Gulf, Marble Steps Pot and so, so many more!!! In fact, the Yorkshire Dales has over 50 potholes deeper than 100 m depth!

Yorkshire Dales Guides have our very own SRT vertical caving training facility – a great place to refresh those skills before heading underground. We also run 1 or 2-day courses for anyone wishing to learn SRT so that they can progress towards tackling some of Yorkshire’s (and elsewhere) finest cave systems. Please note that anyone participating in an advanced caving trip will be required to demonstrate SRT ability at our facility before heading underground.

Single rope technique (SRT) Training area

Develop your skills at our purpose built indoor training facility, or join us on a 1-day or 2-day course to learn SRT and take your new found skills underground on the second day to one of the classic potholes of the Yorkshire Dales!!

Check out our 'vertical caving training facility page' for more info!

Learning the ropes at YDG's very own SRT training facility
Learning the ropes at YDG's very own SRT training facility
SRT training facility
     Learning the ropes at YDG's very own SRT training facility         
Cave safety course with staff from the Yorkshire Dales National Park
Cave safety course with staff from the Yorkshire Dales National Park    
SRT training facility
Learning the ropes at YDG's very own SRT training facility              
Learning the ropes at YDG's very own SRT training facility
              Learning the ropes at YDG's very own SRT training facility

Cave instructor training & assessment

One of the many vertical sections of Simpsons Pot, Kingsdale
One of the many vertical sections of Simpsons Pot, Kingsdale
Stalactites and stalagmites galore (Photo: Mark Burkey)
Stalactites and stalagmites galore (Photo: Mark Burkey)
Learning the ropes at YDG's very own SRT training facility
Learning the ropes at YDG's very own SRT training facility              
One of the many vertical sections of Simpsons Pot, Kingsdale
One of the many vertical sections of Simpsons Pot, Kingsdale              
About to descend the classic Jingling Pot, Kingsdale
About to descend the classic Jingling Pot, Kingsdale
Rigging the ropes in Jingling Pot, Kingsdale
Rigging the ropes in Jingling Pot, Kingsdale
The pristine further reaches of Nirvana, Dentdale
The pristine further reaches of Nirvana, Dentdale
A really fun trip down Simpsons Pot, Kingsdale
A really fun trip down Simpsons Pot, Kingsdale

Looking to complete a course, or need a venue to practice skills for your upcoming LCMLA or CIC (module 2 and 3 assessments)? Then come on down to our spacious SRT training facility (see vertical caving training facility page).

Within the facility, there is an array of ropes, platforms, traverses (both high and low-level) and anchor points for your own rigging, all contained within a very spacious 15m x 10m x 6-8m high area which is perfect for group work. Upstairs, there is also an office with comfortable seating, white boards and projectors, which is also available for use. Get in touch for more info!

Cave safety courses

Our cave safety courses are designed for anyone who wants to ‘really get into’ caving, beyond the standard introductory and intermediate level guided caving trips we offer. It really is a fascinating sport taking you into a beautiful and highly unique environment. No caver forgets the first time they explored and splashed their way down their first underground streamway, or turned that corner and found themselves in a large, quiet chamber surrounded by thousands of glistening and delicate stalactites hanging from the roof, or started abseiling down their first pitch (vertical shaft) with a waterfall crashing down beside them.

Whether you’ve already tried caving and want to start doing more easy horizontal caving trips with friends, or are a more experienced caver who wants to learn the skills to take on more serious vertical potholes, we are positive we can cater for your needs. Our office and vertical caving training facility means we have the perfect premises to teach you all the skills you need to know, from researching and planning your caving trip, to the safety aspects of clothing/equipment/callouts and weather, to the skills required for moving underground safely and efficiently, and knowing what to do if things go wrong.

Get in touch for a chat and will happily put together a single or multi-day course for you based on your wishes and requirements!

Descending a 30m pitch in Simpsons Pot, Kingsdale
Descending a 30m pitch in Simpsons Pot, Kingsdale
The cascade above Dr Bannister's Handbasin, Upper Long Churn Cave
The cascade above Dr Bannister's Handbasin, Upper Long Churn Cave
The 2nd pitch of Sell Gill Holes on day 2 of a 2-day SRT course
The 2nd pitch of Sell Gill Holes on day 2 of a 2-day SRT course
Peering down the next pitch, Out Sleets Beck Pot, Pen-y-ghent Gill
Peering down the next pitch, Out Sleets Beck Pot, Pen-y-ghent Gill
The superb Upper Long Churn Cave streamway
The superb Upper Long Churn Cave streamway
40m (120ft) to go.....Jingling Pot, Kingsdale
40m (120ft) to go.....Jingling Pot, Kingsdale
Enjoying the many fun oxbows of Thistle Cave, Ribblehead
Enjoying the many fun oxbows of Thistle Cave, Ribblehead

Rigging for rescue

Rigging ropes in Jingling Pot, Kingsdale
Rigging ropes in Jingling Pot, Kingsdale
A really fun trip down Simpsons Pot, Kingsdale
A really fun trip down Simpsons Pot, Kingsdale
About to descend the classic Jingling Pot, Kingsdale
Rigging the ropes in Jingling Pot, Kingsdale
Our SRT training facility - a great venue to learn SRT or refresh your skills!
Our SRT training facility - a great venue to learn SRT or refresh your skills!
Learning the ropes at YDG's very own SRT training facility
Learning the ropes at YDG's very own SRT training facility
Learning the ropes at YDG's very own SRT training facility
Learning the ropes at YDG's very own SRT training facility     
SRT training facility
Learning the ropes at YDG's very own SRT training facility
One of the many vertical sections of Simpsons Pot, Kingsdale
One of the many vertical sections of Simpsons Pot, Kingsdale

Looking to complete a course, or need a venue to practice skills for your upcoming LCMLA or CIC (module 2 and 3 assessments)? Then come on down to our spacious SRT training facility (see vertical caving training facility page). The facility is also perfect for groups about to go on expedition who need to make sure their rescue skills are up-to-date in a safe environment.

Within the facility, there is an array of ropes, platforms, traverses (both high and low-level) and anchor points for your own rigging, all contained within a very spacious 15m x 10m x 6-8m high area which is perfect for group work. Upstairs, there is also an office with comfortable seating, white boards and projectors, which is also available for use. Get in touch for more info!

What to expect

Most of our caving trips begin at our premises just outside of Settle, where you will meet your instructor for a briefing, before kitting up in the required equipment (see below) ready for your caving trip. You will get kitted out in our specially designed cavers briefing area complete with 4 changing rooms for privacy.

For the intermediate level caving trips which involve some vertical work, we will then move into our vertical caving training facility for a quick practice at ladder climbing and traverses before heading to the caves.

You will then follow the instructor in your own vehicles to the parking location for the caves, which is normally around a 15-30 mins drive depending on the venue chosen for the day. There is often a short but easy walk to the caves of around 15-25 mins (longer for some advanced caving trips), and you can expect to be underground for anywhere between 1.5 and 4 hrs depending on level of caving experience chosen, weather, and fitness and ability of the group. Some advanced caving trips may take a full day.

After the caving trip, we’ll then head back to the cars and you then have the choice of changing and departing from the parking location, or coming back to our premises to change in comfort and privacy first before departing. Our premises are also a safe place to leave any possessions for the duration of the caving trip if you wish, as opposed to in your cars.

Equipment
A kit list of what to bring will be sent out to all participants ahead of the caving trip, which normally includes a set of old clothes, towel, spare clothing for after the trip and some snacks/a drink.

For your caving trip, you will be kitted out in:
Caving oversuit – Similar to a boiler suit, but much more hardwearing. You will wear this over your old clothes.
Helmet and light
Safety belt
Wellies – wellies are provided, but you may wish to bring your own instead to use (subject to them being deemed appropriate by YDG staff)
Harness and cowstails (for vertical caving trips only)

Pre-requisites
All participants are expected to have a reasonable level of fitness, and will be required to complete a medical form prior to the caving trip. Please get in touch and we would be delighted to discuss our caving experiences with you in more detail including suitability for a particular trip.

Caving kit list diagram

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