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 15/07/2017 | Mildew82
Member since : 25/03/2010
Reviews : 271
Members who trust : 122
About me :
Yikes! It's been a while. A new job role has taken up most of my time recently but my reviewing days are back...
Excellent
Pro Decently priced, family friendly tour into some fascinating and educational caves
Cons Dripped on, public transport not the best, facilities a bit small
exceptional
Prices
Is it worth visiting?
Transport links
Family Friendly

"Enter Poole's Cavern thankfully not as a hostage of robber Poole"

Evidence of the excavation that occurred in the caves revealing Roman pottery and animal and human bones

Evidence of the excavation that occurred in the caves revealing Roman pottery and animal and human bones

Caves are part eerie / part peaceful places and you’d be forgiven in thinking if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Personally, I find caves fascinating as they always seem to have different origin stories and histories, and Poole’s Cavern in Buxton, Derbyshire is no different, so if you are a fan of caves and in the area, it is well worth a visit. These caves are a mere 2 million years old, formed by the River Wye cutting through the rock as it was finding its path in life, making only a small appearance now in Poole’s Cavern before disappearing underground and reappearing some 400 metres away. One thing that is particularly interesting is due to mining practices in the past, waste from lime-burning was dumped above the cavern, so the water filtering through picked up all that waste material and produced very speedy stalactites that grow up to 1cm a year. Epic.

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How to Get There

Address: Poole's Cavern Visitor Centre, Green Lane, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 9DH
Phone: 01298 26978
Email: info@poolescavern.co.uk

The caves are located very close to the centre of Buxton and are very easy to follow with the brown signs which is advised over Satnav if you’re driving as the postcode may lead you astray. The car park is reasonably sized and costs £2 for 4 hours and £3 for the whole day. If you come in by train to Buxton it is a 20-minute walk, but no bus service direct from there so a taxi might be the best option if you don’t fancy the walk. There are however two buses that will take you directly there / within walking distance which are the 193 and 194.

Opening Times

Summer Opening Times:
March - October open 9:30am - 5pm
Tours every 20 minutes

Winter Opening Times:
November - February open 10am - 4pm
Weekends: Tours Every 20 minutes
Weekdays: Tours at 10:30am, 12:30pm & 2:30pm

Prices

Adult (16 or over) - £9.75
Child (5-16) - £5.25
Family (2 adults, up to 3 children) - £26
Students/Seniors - £8.50

The Cavern

The actual attraction begins in a small building with just a reception/shop, a small café and an exhibition marking the waiting area for the tour begin – but don’t worry, if you arrive at the perfect time to start a tour you can visit this exhibition area later. It’s small, but has a lot of information packed in, including information boards, a short video and lots of fascinating artefacts and fossils on display. Just in case anyone is fearful about the odd bump to the cranium they are very open caves and you won’t need to wear any protective headgear, though safety goggles might be an idea as the amount of drips that went into my eyes with pinpoint accuracy was frankly astonishing although it is advisable to duck on the odd occasion. Guide dogs are welcome but no other dogs (or any other kind of pets just to make things absolutely clear), prams are okay as long as you can negotiate the handful of steps dotted around (though small children may start crying at inopportune moments booming around the cavernous walls) and wheelchairs can make it to the first few caves but possibly not any further, so worth checking in advance.

The start of the tour will begin, not unsurprisingly, at the sole entrance to the caves, which only existed in its current spacious form due to the Victorians using some dynamite to prevent the gentry having to crawl in on their hands and knees which is convenient for us now despite being a desecration of the original cave, though some subtle stooping may be required for giants. The cave remains a constant 7 degrees Celsius throughout which may feel pleasant or cold depending on the time of year, so make sure you dress appropriately, but was certainly useful for the cave dwellers during periods such as the bronze age that spent a good 6 months of the year sheltering inside, as evidenced by the archaeological sites you will see in the first cave which produced many an animal and human bone and some Roman pottery. As caves go, I found this one to be quite eye-catching, with lots of wonderfully asymmetrical walls and ceilings and plenty of unusual features like a sea of tiny stalagmites and bulbous protrusions.

Along the tour, and if you are lucky you will get an extremely enthusiastic guide like I did, you will likely be treated to the history of the caves such as how it gained its name, allegedly after a notorious villain named Poole who used to kidnap and hold victims for ransom in the caves (which could have equally been an urban legend to keep the Victorians away from the caves) and how we were able to gain such ease of passage throughout, due to the Victorians being extra happy with their dynamite usage. Various features will be pointed out and how they came to be, for example an impressive dome in the first cavern which would have been created by a swirling vortex formed by the water coming back on itself when it found no way out, some colourful and many numerous fast-growing stalagmites and cave walls affected by the different types of minerals being filtered through, pus a tragically broken stalactite (of many thousands of years age) by those same pesky Victorians thinking they had struck gold.

Our guide aimed the tour at both adults and kids, asking lots of questions (and giving everyone plenty of chances to ask their own) to get everyone involved with lots of fascinating scientific explanations and mysteries yet to be solved, such as why are the stalagmites capped in orange in certain areas which is unique to Poole’s Cavern? I certainly think there was enough to capture the imagination of all ages and the rather vivid history our guide was able to paint added an air of wonder to many of the sights which made for an engrossing tour. One thing I’d never come across before was the fact you could murder the poor stalactites and stalagmites by touching them – apparently the secretions from our skin make them repel water so they stop accumulating, turn black and die. That took an unexpectedly morbid turn, though it did mean we got a chance to touch the expired stalagmite without fearing a chastisement.

The tour only really goes through 4-5 caves with a few steps to negotiate so really isn’t that challenging, though worth mentioning the last cave potentially has bats which were sadly inactive on my visit, but if you’re not too keen on bats you might have to halt your progress before this point. Here you will see a work of art which is basically a huge calcified boulder aptly named “The Sculpture” and the guide, assuming there are no pansies in the group, will likely switch off the lights so you can experience true darkness which can be a little unsettling but is also a bit of a thrill. There was a tiny reflection from the penultimate cave appearing on the wall which prevented pitch blackness, but you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. The most exciting part of this cave is the knowledge that hopefully by the end of the year they will be able to make their way into new caves that stretch on for over a mile that no human has ever been in before (although cameras have) and you can track their progress online at http://poolescavern.co.uk/take-a-peek/unexplored-chambers/.

The Surrounding Area

Since the cave tour takes less than an hour there are a few other things that may take your fancy in the area. The caves are set in Buxton Country Park, a lovely woodland area with some trails you can follow, one that takes you up to Solomons Temple, a folly built in 1895, which could be considered a bit strenuous being mostly uphill the whole way and you having to traverse massive undulations on Grin Low, the area where all the lime works were, before having to climb maybe 20 steps to reach the top of the folly. However, the views are amazing so if you are feeling energetic then definitely fit this little diversion in. For the even more adventurous there is also a Go Ape on location (some of the highest in the country including lots of tree top walks) which you will have to book well in advance and will have you climbing and ziplining around the woods getting woodchip stains on your trousers. Fun times.

Amenities

* There are toilets in the main building just opposite the reception desk.

* The shop is very small, but has a nice collection of books, souvenirs, soaps,
chutneys and preserves, fossils and jewellery for adults and kids alike.

* The café is also small but you can get a nice range of soups, baguettes, pasties, jacket potatoes, cakes and hot and cold beverages, with everything less than £5 on offer. I had a nice cup of tea, but apparently the peppermint tea was too strong. You can dine indoors or outside on a number of benches if the weather demands it.

I’ve been to quite a few caves in my time, but this one I can thoroughly recommend as it is easy to negotiate as only a few steps present any real obstacle, it never feels claustrophobic as it is very spacious, it has many points of interest and a fascinating history, there are a few things unique to it you may not see in other caves and I also think it’s a decent entry price (as long as you don’t have 12 kids). So, why not be a troglodyte for the day.

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Comments on this review

  • CGholy published 20/10/2017
    Well reviewed.
  • IzzyS published 07/08/2017
    Well reviewed.
  • torr published 31/07/2017
    Great review.
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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