God’s own country is home to one of the largest underground cave chambers in Britain. Gaping Gill, or Gaping Ghyll, is so huge it is said that it is big enough to hold a cathedral – which is like fitting the York Minster inside (how incredible is that?).
Found on the southern slopes of Ingleborough. This unique landmark is a real testament to the force of nature and Yorkshire’s beauty.
Deep in the Yorkshire Dales, the 98-metre deep pothole in which the Fell Beck river flows was the biggest in Britain until the Titan (141.5 metres) in Derbyshire was found in 1999.
Although it is no longer the largest underground cave, it does hold the record for the largest unbroken waterfall in England – as well as the largest underground chamber naturally open to the surface. The cave system is one of the longest in the UK.
Research done by automotive marque MINI identified over 100 natural-based locations across Britain and gauged them on wildness and popularity to find the UK’s best-hidden gems. The underground cave was voted number four on the list.
When is Gaping Gill open to the public?
The cave is an extensive cave system, which with properly equipped explores you can explore all the way underneath the Yorkshire Dales.
Gaping Gill cave in the Yorkshire Dales is closed to the public except for when it opens twice a year for a week in May and August. Each time of year, Bradford and Craven pothole clubs set up a winch over the main shaft entrance.
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The public can visit on these weeks from 9am on weekdays and 8am at weekends. There can be extended waiting times over bus periods, so make sure you book as soon as you arrive at Gaping Gill by visiting the tent next to the winch.
It’s around £20 to descend per person – you’ll be given a wristband with an allotted time.
Visitors can explore the chambers of some of the closer passages when down in the cave. There is 16.6km of cave systems to check out.
Once inside you can just explore the chamber, or the slightly more adventurous can enter some of the easier and closer passages of the 16.6km cave system. It’s a good idea to wear waterproof clothing as the winch passes you through the spray from the towering waterfall.
How do I get to Gaping Gill?
To reach the entrance, which is at the top of the main shaft, you have to walk from the village of Clapham, following signs for Ingleborough Cave. Usually, you will see others walking as it can get quite busy on sunny dry days. You may want to get a map though as at the times of the year it can be hard to find.
You reach Gaping Gill by following the footpath through the Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail past Ingleborough Cave through Trow Gill and onto the moorland below Ingleborough.
Watch this video of a descent into Gaping Gill below:
Keep an eye on their social media channels here for information on when you can visit Gaping Gill.