Poole's Cavern, Buxton

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Poole's Cavern, Buxton

Landmark - Address: Green Lane, Buxton Derbyshire, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 9DH

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Review of "Poole's Cavern, Buxton"

published 01/06/2007 | luckyarchers
Member since : 17/10/2002
Reviews : 175
Members who trust : 179
About me :
Super
Pro Relatively unspoilt, natural cave, with bats.
Cons Slippery underfoot, bats droppings, temporary building work.
very helpful
Prices
Is it worth visiting?
Transport links
Family Friendly

"Next Stop is Seventh Heaven"

The Flitch of Bacon, the longest stalactite in Derbyshire.

The Flitch of Bacon, the longest stalactite in Derbyshire.

** How to Get There **

The spa town of Buxton, in Derbyshire, is on the A6, which is the main road that dissects the Peak District.

Poole’s Cavern, and Grin Low and Buxton Country Park which is above the caves, is well signposted from the main routes in and out of Buxton, and is situated in the south-west corner, on the edge of a pleasant residential area.

It also has its own train station. Visit http://nationalrail.co.uk/index.html to find a service suitable for you.

Check out Buxton’s website http://www.visitbuxton.co.uk/ if you want to combine this trip with more of the town’s attractions. There are far too many to list in this review, but as I prefer good value outdoor attractions, the extra one that I enjoyed most was the Pavilion Gardens, which are free.


** Introduction to Our Experience **

We were very lucky with the weather on our recent week’s holiday in the Peak District, and spent most of our time enjoying the great outdoors in lovely sunshine. We always intended exploring one of the many caves, with a guide, but thought we would leave it until the weather broke, as it is a constant cool temperature (7 C) in the underground caverns, whatever is happening outside. The weather stayed good all week, which meant that on the last day of our holiday, 25 May 2007, when we eventually took the Poole’s Cavern Tour, we were afterwards able to visit the Grin Low and Buxton Country Park above.

The car park had a lot of building work going on around it when we visited, so we went to one of the temporary portacabins to buy our tickets for a guided tour. Here visitors could also buy light refreshments.

Tours were running approximately every half an hour, but we had to wait an hour due to the pre-booked school parties. (School worksheets are available for KS1 & 2.) Soon any waiting time could be spent in the new Visitor Centre, but as they were still building it when we went, we spent the time in the country park.

Both the caves and the country park are Sites of Special Scientific Interest.


** Below Ground **

All of the paths that we were taken along underground we relatively easy ones, by cave standards, but they are prone to being wet and slippery, so footwear with good grips is important.

Also remember that there is a constant cool 7 C temperature underground, so the guide and most visitors wore winter weight jackets.

Before entering the caves, I expected to be given a hard hat to wear, which is compulsory in many other show caves that I have visited. This didn’t happen presumably because the height of the roof of most of the underground places visited was very high. I’m 5ft 3ins and only remember ducking once, just slightly, while going through the first tunnel leading to the main cavern, and that was probably just me being extra cautious.

At the entrance to the cave, our guide pointed our the Monkey House, a building that once housed monkeys to keep the Victorians entertained while they waited for their guided tour.

We saw more obvious evidence of the Victorians later in the form of an old gas lamp underground, but most of these old lamps have been removed. Our guide turned sufficient electric lighting on and off during our visit, so that you could get around safely but still appreciate the naturally beautiful surroundings.

Our guide also pointed out evidence of the use made of these 2 million year old caves from the prehistoric period, Roman times and right up to the present day.

We were told that the caves appear to have been named either after a local landowner or an outlaw. Poole the outlaw, who hid in the caves, is more interesting. He was a Flasher. Hundreds of years ago this meant that he made money out of money, by scraping the gold off the edges of coins, still used the coins, but also sold on the shavings. The milling on the edge of coins was put there to stop this sort of crime.

Back to the cave and its formations that were highlighted for us, by our guide flashing his torch. These included the longest stalactite in Derbyshire, known as the Flitch of Bacon, the Frozen Waterfall flowstone formation and the Mary Queen of Scots Pillar, so named after she visited that part of the cavern. Other interesting observations included graffiti that was hundreds of years old. Apparently some of this indicated use by white witches in the past.

At one point, after checking that no one in our all-adult party objected, our guide turned off all light in the part of the cave that we occupied. No one squealed despite knowing that we shared the area with bats. We didn’t see the bats, but we knew they were definitely there, as they left their marks! The droppings were on the caves, not us, this time.

The formations that I found most interesting, as I don’t remember seeing anything like them before while visiting other caves, were those in the Poached Egg Chamber. The stalagmites here have a colouring on their tips that resembles a poached egg. Our guide told us that scientists are still not sure why this is, but it may be due to organic material coming from the vegetation above ground, which is unusually close to the cave roof due to human interference. Others think it is just iron compound deposits, as can be found in other parts of the cave, although not in this shape. What is undisputed is that these stalagmites and their stalactites are growing a lot more rapidly than usual, up to 1cm a year.

The last place we visited before retracing our steps to the entrance, was the Sculpture Chamber, which contains a white formulation that some think looks like a sculptured swan with its head tucked underneath its wing. It reminded me more of cauliflower cheese, and there were various other suggestions from our party, but all were impressed.

The guide showed as the Wye source here. Then told us that sometimes, in summer, the underground river dries up, and when this happens, adventurous cavers ask for permission to try to visit “Seventh Heaven”. This is the next chamber on from the Sculpture Chamber, and is accessed by crawling through a very narrow tunnel. This is not accessible to the general public.

On the way back to the entrance our guide invited us to stop and take any photos that we wanted, and stayed at the rear of the group to make sure he didn’t leave any of the photographers behind.

We were underground for about 45 mins.


** Above Ground **

Car Park – We paid £1 into a Pay and Display Machine to park for 4 hours.

The car park had industrious looking builders working at both ends. One group were working on a new Go Ape attraction, an above ground forest adventure course, for use by children aged 10-17 (baboons) and adults (gorillas). The other group were finishing a new visitor centre.

Sadly for us, at this in-between time, neither the old or new visitor centre was open, but I don’t think this stage will last long.

For visitors wanting to explore the Country Park, we found a leaflet in the cabin where we bought our tickets showing a route and places of interest. The leaflet and entry to the country park is free.

Throughout the park there are notices explaining things of interest both formed by nature and man. One of the man-made features we saw were the remains of lime burning kilns used in the 17th and 18th centuries. This lime was used as a pesticide, to improve the soil, for lime mortar and leather tanning. Some of the lime heaps which formed a hard crust, were hollowed out to provide rough caves where the lime burners and their families lived.

Good views can be had from Solomon’s Temple, which is a tall tower, with a spiral staircase, built in Victorian times. This is quite a long walk across the country park from the Poole’s Cavern car park. If you aren’t up to walking the distance shown on the map, you could find a car park closer to it. If in doubt as to which of the routes would suit you best, ask the friendly staff for advice.


** Disabled Facilities **

No unspoilt cave is likely to be totally disabled visitor friendly, but they are doing what they can here to make access possible to the main chamber, and also give the best views they can of the rest by using high quality video cameras. As our group didn’t have any disabled people in it, I didn’t see the cameras in operation, but they advertise that you can pan and zoom them to see the rest of the spectacular crystal formations and watch able-bodied members of your party walking near them.

For hearing disabled persons, with specially designed hearing aids, there are T-Loop facilities.

Anyone wanting to use their special facilities should phone them before visiting.


** Show Caves Comparison **

The other caves I have visited in the Peak District are those at the Heights of Abraham experience.

I prefer Poole’s Cavern and Buxton Country Park to the Heights of Abraham because the surrounding area is less commercialised, it is better value for money and the slopes leading to the caves are a lot less demanding. There is a choice of routes in Buxton Country Park so that most people can take a path that is suitable for them. (Wheelchair users will want to note that all the routes we saw from this car park did mean going up at least one flight of steps though. I believe other entry points to the country park may be better suited to wheelchairs.)

For similar reasons to the above, I preferred Poole’s Caverns to those at Cheddar George in Somerset.


** Seasonal Attractions **

Special events may be organised during the Buxton Festival in July, and on the run up to Christmas, Santa can be seen in a real life grotto in the caves.


** Recommendation **

I do recommend that those interested in caves and/or country parks give this place a visit, but not for a month or two, after which the new facilities should all be open. You might as well get you money’s worth!

For me this was a 4 star experience, but when the new facilities are open, it should be even better.

If visiting this summer I advise that you use the telephone number or email address below to check that the new building work for all the facilities you want will be open for you.


** Prices & Opening Times for 2007 **

Adults £5.50
Children age 5 and over £3 (under 5s free)
Adult Concessions £4 (OAP, Students, Unemployed)

If going by car add £1 for 4 hours parking costs.

Entry to the Grin Low and Buxton Country Park is free all year.

The caves are open for about 10 months of the year, having an extended Christmas/New Year break.

Opening hours are 10.00am-5.00pm.
If you want to join a tour towards the end of the day, phone ahead to check availability.


Poole’s Cavern
Green Lane
Buxton
Derbyshire
SK17 9DH

Tel: 01298 26978

email: info@poolescavern.co.uk

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Comments on this review

  • pelak18 published 06/09/2007
    Quality review.
  • k8_lloyd published 05/07/2007
    Good thorough review and nice pics too. x
  • patriciat published 09/06/2007
    Its not that far away from me - I live in the next county and to my shame, I've never been. I really ought to get out more. Pat.t x
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Product Information : Poole's Cavern, Buxton

Manufacturer's product description

Landmark - Address: Green Lane, Buxton Derbyshire, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 9DH

Product Details

Address: Green Lane, Buxton Derbyshire, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 9DH

City: Buxton

Type: Landmark

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Listed on Ciao since: 25/09/2003