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Buxton Caving

Buxton isn't really known for its cave systems and there aren't actually many caves in Buxton itself, but there is a major system which cavers have yet to enter, which connects the sinks on Stanley Moor with the Wye Valley. Poole's Cavern forms part of the abandoned section of the cave system, a spectacular showcase cave which is open to visitors. Plunge Hole on Stanley Moor is quite a meagre cave in this area which cavers probably don't even give more than a day for a visit. However, if you would like to understand the drainage of Buxton, Stanley Moor is a good place to start. Wye Head Resurgence is in the middle of a residential part of Buxton, and is the source of most of the water in the River Wye which flows through the town and on down to Matlock.

Poole's Cavern, or Poole's Hole, is a 2 million year old natural limestone cave on the edge of Buxton. In 1981 and 1983, archaeological explorations found that it was occupied right back from the Bronze Age. Some of the finds suggests one of the chambers was used for religious purposes by Romano Britons or perhaps that the cave was a metalworker's workshop. It has been designated a site of special scientific interest. The name of the cave comes from an outlaw, Poole. Legend says he used the cave as a lair to rob travellers in the 15th century.

The cavern was officially opened to the public as a show cave in 1853 by the sixth Duke of Devonshire and by then, the cave was already a huge tourist attraction. It was listed as one of the Wonders of the Peak by Charles Cotton in 1683 and it is claimed that Mary Queen of Scots was an early visitor. Under the management of the Dukes overseer, Frank Redfern, the entrance was widened. In 1859 a system of gas lamps was used to light the cavern, making it one of the earliest uses of gas which was used right up until the cave was closed in 1965. The incredible underground world is now lit up with new LED lighting.

In modern day, it is possible to travel deep beneath the earth in the cavern with expert guides and explore the vast limestone caverns to see how crystal stalactites have formed over billions of years. Explorers have found there is a passage somewhere beyond a massive boulder choke, or rock pile, at the current end of the cave. The part of the cave which is currently open to the public is around 310 metres in length and includes chambers called the Roman Chamber, Great Dome, Poached Egg Chamber and Sculpture Chamber. Some of the large stalactites and stalagmites called the ' Flitch of bacon' and Mary Queen of Scots pillar,' as well as stalagmites, which have a very porous texture and poached egg colour, which come from the minerals leached from the lime burning on Grin Low above, making it a major part of the attraction. The temperature underground is a constant 7°C, 44°F