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Poole's Cavern

There is some truly spectacular show caves littered throughout the Peak District but one spectacular example is Poole's Cavern on the edge of Buxton, which is a 2 million year old natural limestone cave now open to the public Once occupied by a fearsome outlaw called Poole, who, legend has it, used with cave as a lair by to rob weary travellers back in the 15th century, it was also listed as one of the Wonders of the Peak by Charles Cotton in 1683 and it's claimed that Mary Queen of Scots was an early visitor.

Its other name is Poole's Hole, but whichever name you like to call it, you won't fail to be impressed by the vast limestone caverns to see how crystal stalactites have formed in the chambers over billions of years. It has various chambers called the Roman Chamber, Great Dome, Poached Egg Chamber and Sculpture Chamber and is packed full of features including large stalactites and stalagmites called the ' Flitch of bacon' and Mary Queen of Scots pillar,' as well as stalagmites of different textures and colours, which have a very porous texture and poached egg colour, which come from the minerals leached from the lime burning on Grin Low above.

It was officially opened to the public as a show cave in 1953 by the sixth Duke of Devonshire and its not surprising over recent years, it has been designated a site of special scientific interest. It had archaeological explorations undertaken in 1981 and 1983, by some very leading and prominent geologists and making headlines with their findings, it was clear the cave dated back so far and was occupied from the Bronze Age. Today, it's possible to travel deep underground at Poole's Cavern to explore the bowels of the cave, with expert guides and discover the underground world is now lit up with new LED lighting. Long ago, it was lit by a series of gas lamps which must have been very eerie at the time. They were used to light up the visitor's rout, right up until 1965.

Poole's Cavern is constantly being explored and new discoveries are still found even now, Work in the last few years has shown there is a passage somewhere beyond a massive boulder choke, or rock pile, at the current end of the cave. There is a huge area to explore and the part which is currently open to the public is around 310 m in length. You won't be on your own, don't worry!  Cavern tours are accompanied with a guide at all times, and the fascinating tours begin every 20 minutes and leave from the visitor centre, or exhibition area. The cavern tour is approximately 15 minutes underground and there are 28 steps in the cavern with no more than 10 in one place, so pushchairs and child buggies are permitted in the cave but it can be hard going on the infirm. The temperature underground is a constant 7°C, 44°F, so take a jumper with you and there are just two low points for the claustrophobic amongst you! One is located at the entrance one is situated by the first set of steps but they are clearly marked with 'mind your head' signs and can be clearly warned about beforehand. 

There is a large pay and display car park at Poole's Cavern for 80 vehicles at a level access to the visitor centre. The cafe serves some wonderful refreshments, light meals and snacks and there is a separate room for group and school use. There is also a wet weather picnic room so it's a great place to go for those wet school holidays. Dogs are also allowed in the visitor centre and cafe, but understandably, not down the cave itself.

The shop stocks a fantastic range of rock mineral samples, a range of other goodies including books, toys and gifts and also some jewellery so some Christmas or birthday shopping could be done finding some unusual gifts. The visitor centre includes the cavern exhibition with archaeology found in the cave on display and a film showing the unseen parts of Poole's Cavern.

Not only is Poole's Cavern great to explore the cave but there is also lots of other things to so around the area. Discover Solomon's Temple, an ancient but impressive folly with a fantastic view back down to the town and with far reaching views to Kinder Scout and Mam Tour on a clear day, a short but steep climb away. Explore the country park surrounding Poole's Cavern leads to a woodland path from the car park to the open summit of Grin Low, 437 m above sea level. There is also a fabulous woodland walk through 40 hectares of mature woodland full of beach, ash, elm, and sycamore with willow, hawthorn, rowan and birch trees around the edges.