With so much stunning British countryside to see, it can be hard to know where to start. Especially considering there’s plenty to see below the surface too. If you fancy a bit of adventure during your next getaway, then why not take some time to explore one of the best caves in the UK.
If you’re also looking for a definitive guide to exploring caves in the UK, you can find it here.
Location: The Isle of Staffa
Open: 7:30 am, last tour leaves at 9:50 am.
Price: £35 per ticket.
Not necessarily an area that would immediately leap to mind, Fingal’s Cave is a hidden attraction tucked underneath Staff Island in the Inner Hebrides. Only accessible by boat tour, it is a truly unique experience – the cave opens up to a 69-metre high arched ceiling and hexagonal basalt columns that yet to be discovered in any other sea cave.
Llechwedd Slate Caverns
Open: Daily 9 am to 5:30 pm.
Price: £20 for a single or £15 per person for a family.
Located towards the north of Wales’ famous national park, Llechwedd Slate Cavern was originally a bustling slate mine. The tour here will take you deep into the belly of the mountain, 500 feet underground. What’s more, you’ll learn all about the history of the local area and the role slate mining played in the Industrial Revolution.
Price: £1 toll for vehicles, free for pedestrians.
Situated below the impressive Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol, exploring the 1.5 mile long Avon Gorge is a great day out for all the family. Hewn by the River Avon, the gorge forms the boundary between North Somerset and Bristol. As well as being picturesque, the gorge also has an intriguing history, having been inhabited since the Iron Age, if not before, and has been used over the years as a water source, mine, grazing area and even a military fort.
Open: Daily 11 am to 5:30 pm.
Price: Adults £7.50, children £6, under-threes go free.
The incredible Hellfire Caves are an extensive network of man-made chalk and flint caverns, extended 400 metres beneath the ground. The caves were excavated in the 18th century for Sir Francis Dashwood and later served as a meeting place for his infamous Hellfire Club. The cave system includes an Entrance Hall, Circle, Franklin’s Cave (for Benjamin Franklin, an associate of Sir Francis Dashwood), Banqueting Hall, Triangle, Miner’s Cave and an underground river known as the Styx which must be crossed to enter the Inner Temple.
Cheddar Gorge and Caves
Open: Daily 10 am to 5:30 pm July to August, 10:30 am to 5 pm September to June.
Price: Adult £17.95, Under 15s £11.95, under-fives go free. What’s more, you’ll be able to bag yourself a 15% discount if you book online in advance.
Arguably the most famous of all the caves and gorges in the United Kingdom, Cheddar Gorge is a limestone gorge located near the village of the same name in the Mendip Hills. As well as awe-inspiring stalagmites and stalactites, the show caves are also home to Cheddar Man – the oldest complete skeleton in Britain. What’s more, you’ll find the ‘cheddar cave’ here, where cheddar cheese is left to mature and develop its distinctive tang.
Location: Peak District
Open: Daily 10 am to 5 pm April to October, weekends only 10 am to 5 pm
November to March.
Price: Adult £11.75, Under 15s £9.75, Family (2+2) £39.00.
Set in the picturesque Peak District, Peak Cavern is well worth a visit. Enter the cavern through the vast entrance chamber – largest natural cave entrance in the whole of the UK – before venturing further into the cave system. You’ll pass through the Orchestra Gallery and Roger Rain’s House into Pluto’s Dining Room and then down into the Devil’s Cellar.
Location: Yorkshire Dales
Open: One week in May and one week in August.
Price: Adult £15.
One of the most famous caves in the Yorkshire Dales, a trip down Gaping Gill is not for the fainthearted. Descend nearly 100 metres into the bowels of the earth and marvel at the vast underground cavern. Gaping Gill is only open to the public for two weeks of the year – one in May and one in August – so you need to make sure you get your timing right if you’re keen to visit.
Open: 9 am to 4 pm, from Wednesday to Sunday,
Price: Adult £6, senior £4, child £4.
Covering an area of 22 miles, Chislehurst Caves is a complicated man-made network of caves in south-east London. Originally a chalk mine, the caves were used as an air-raid shelter during the Second World War, protecting over 15,000 people from the destruction of the Blitz. During the 60s and 70s, the caves were also used as a dance and concert venue. Nowadays, the caves can be seen as part of a guided tour, which details their unique history and varied uses over the years.
White Scar Cave
Location: North Yorkshire
Open: November 4th to January 31st – Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am. February 1st to November 3rd – every day from 10 am.
Price: Adult (age 16 or older) £10.75, child £6.95, under-threes for free. Family (2 adults + 2 children) £29.50.
Located in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales National Park, White Scar Cave is the longest cave in Britain open to the public. Set deep beneath the earth, the caverns stretch on for a whopping six kilometres and feature rushing underground waterfalls, awe-inspiring caverns, pre-historic mud pools and towering stalagmites and stalactites.
Wookey Hole Caves
Open: Summertime: (Apr-Oct Inc): 10 am (first tour) – 5 pm (Last Cave Tour, Wintertime: (Nov-Mar Inc): 10 am (first tour) – 4 pm (Last Cave Tour)
Price: Adult £19.95, seniors 60+ £17.95, child (3-14yrs Inc) £15.95, under-threes go free. It’s worth noting that you can save 15% by booking online.
The famous Wookey Hole Caves in Somerset are definitely worth a visit if you’re passing through the area. This series of magical limestone caverns are some of the largest and most impressive show caves in the whole of Europe. What’s more, a ticket to the caves includes over 20 attractions, making Wooky Hole Caves the perfect day out for all the family.