Weathercote Cave


Useful Information

Weathercote Cave by William Turner (*1775-✝1851).
Weathercote Cave when Half-Filled with Water by William Turner (*1775-✝1851).
Weathercote Cave by William Turner (*1775-✝1851).
Location: Weathercote House, Chapel-le-Dale, Ingleton, Yorkshire.
On the west side of the Ingleton to Hawes road (B6255), just above Chapel-le-Dale church, entered by the white gate marked "Weathercote House".
(54.193291, -2.401116)
Open: closed.
[2021]
Fee: closed.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave KarstDoline
Light: no lights are needed
Dimension: L=762 m, VR=33 m, A=262 m asl.
Guided tours: self guided, D=30 min, L=122 m.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: John Hutton (1780): A Tour to the Caves in the Environs of Ingleborough and Settle, pp. 25-28, reprinted 1970. pdf
Richard Pococke (1888): The travels through England of Dr. Richard Pococke, successively bishop of Meath and of Ossory, during 1750, 1751, and later years, Camden Society, 1888, vol. 42. webarchive
William Westall (1818): Views of the caves near Ingleton, Gordal Scar, and Malham Cove, in Yorkshire. London: John Murray.
Michael Dominic Chadd Rudd (1990): The picturesque and landscape appreciation the development of tourism in the Yorkshire dales & county durham 1750- 1860, Durham theses, Durham University. Durham E-Theses
Harry Speight (1892): The Craven and North-West Yorkshire Highlands, Elliot Stock.
Stephen C. Oldfield (2015): A Three Peaks Up and Under, Scratching Shed Publishing.
Tony Waltham (1987): Yorkshire Dales: Limestone Country, Constable.
Address: Weathercote Cave, Andrew Braithwaite, Weathercote House, Chapel-le-Dale, Ingleton, Yorkshire. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1751 first described in detail by Richard Pococke.
1781 a tour guide was charging intrepid tourists one shilling to visit the cave.
1808 visited by William Turner, the English Romantic painter, who made a number of sketches and painted a view from the bottom.
1816 William Turner returned to paint the view from the top when the river was in spate.
1818 five views of Weathercote Cave in William Westall's book of aquatinted engraved views of Yorkshire.
1835 described by William Wordsworth, the English Romantic poet.
1858 tourists were paying for the privilege of visiting the site, so it was actually a show cave.
1875 visited by John Ruskin.
1954 the Dales designated a National Park.
1971 show cave closed, after a visitor was killed by a rock fall.
1986 underwater connection with Jingle Pot explored by the Cave Diving Group.
2019 new owner allows access for caver after appointment.

Description

Weathercote Cave by William Westall (*1781-✝1850).
Weathercote Cave by William Westall (*1781-✝1850).

Weathercote Cave was renowned as a natural curiosity since the 18th century, and was accessible as a show cave until 1971. The entrance is a 20 m deep, large shaft or collapse doline, which is dominated by a waterfall entering at one end. So it is actually not a cave at all, it is a collapse of a mostly inaccessible water filled cave system. Nevertheless it called the most breath-taking experience in the Three Peaks. Not even lights are needed. Unfortunately it is not open to the public any more.

Enclosed by a substantial wall for security reasons, from the doorway in the wall a trail leads to the open shaft. The collapse doline is 61 m long, 15 m wide, and 30 m deep, with a 25 m high waterfall at the opposite side and one entering from the right side. Both waterfalls are active after heavy rains, during summer there is only one of them. At times of high water the shaft may fill to the rim and overflow down the valley. Above the waterfall is a massive boulder known as Mohammed's Coffin. A flight of 51 steps descends beneath a natural rock arch to the bottom of the shaft. From here several short cave passages start, both uostream and downstream, but all of them end in sumps.

The cave is part of the underground watercourse of Winterscales Beck. It springs on the lower slopes of Whernside. It first sinks at Haws Gill Wheel, about 1,000 m upstream of Weathercote Cave. Here it meets a major strike/slip fault, dropping dramatically in a 25 m waterfall. From Weathercote the main passage leads to Jingle Pot, another daylight shaft located 140 m down the valley. The next segment of the cave connects to Hurtle Pot, a further 200 m down the valley. According to legendy it is home to the Hurtle Pot Boggart, believed to drown his victims by puling them into the depths. The water finally reappears at God's Bridge, 1,300 m down the valley, from here the river is called Chapel Beck. However the passages are waterfilled and not accessible.

The connection between Weathercote and Hurtle Pot was confirmed in 1770, when a glove or bonnet (the stories differ) lost by a female visitor in Weathercote Cave was later retrieved from Hurtle Pot. The underwater connection with Jingle Pot was explored more recently in 1986 by the Cave Diving Group. While not completely explored due to the technical difficulties, the whole cave system was estimated to be 2,370 m long with a vertical range of 64 m.

The cave was first described in detail by Richard Pococke in 1751, see citation below. In 1781 it became well-known through the publication of John Hutton’s Guide to the Caves in the Environs of Ingleborough. It was visited twice by William Turner, the English Romantic painter, who made a number of sketches and painted a view from the bottom. The first time in 1808 he made a watercolour shortly thereafter of the view from the bottom which is at Graves Art Gallery, Sheffield. In 1816 he visited the cave again, conditions were exceptionally wet That summer, and as Turner noted, the cave was full of water and the normally dry stream-bed at the right was in full spate. He made a sketch which was the basis of a studio watercolour "Weathercote Cave when Half-Filled with Water" which is at the British Museum in London. It was published in 1822 in Thomas Dunham Whitaker’s History of Richmondshire.

Leek, in Staffordshire,
June 4th, 1751.
On May 28th I went from Chapel Dale, at the foot of Ingleborough, across Tweeselton Scar, to the west, there being another rocky low hill running along the foot of Ingleborough, which is called Ingleborough Scar. We descended into King's Dale, in which there is only one house, and crossed to the west side of it, to Jardours Cove, to which there is an entrance, something like that of the Peke of Derby, but not so large ; it leads to a very grand high cave, the sides of which are smooth perpendicular rocks, about SO feet high, except in two or three places, where there are some curious incrustations made by the water. There is a small passage to the left, but what is most extraordinary, we went into the passage to the left between the rocks, through streams of water, and came to a cavern, where two or three streams come tumbling down the rocks with a great noise for ten or fifteen feet, and in other parts there are cupolas so high that we could not see to the top. I went up the hill, over it, and saw the stream come rushing down a great way over the rocks, with several litle falls coming out towards the top of the mountain, and it is lost in the ground near the place where we saw it come out in the cave ; both this rock and Weather Coat Cave abound in shells of the Conchae Anomiae.
Richard Pococke (1888): The travels through England of Dr. Richard Pococke, successively bishop of Meath and of Ossory, during 1750, 1751, and later years, Camden Society, 1888, vol. 42.

As an example of a large, Nature-formed, abrupt, and profound hiatus in the rock, receiving a cataract of majestic proportions, it is a marvellous production, and is certainly without rival in England.
Harry Speight (1892): The Craven and North-West Yorkshire Highlands.

The cave is located on private property and not acessible to the public. A few years ago the owner was even unwilling to allow cavers into the cave. The cave actually lies beneath the home of the owner, who is obviously not very fond about tourists invading his garden. The current owner is much nicer and allows visits after appointment a few days in advance. The site is quite dangerous, not only because of the possible rockfall, but also because the old stairs are partly destroyed and slippery. So we strongly recommend a helmet with headlamp and sturdy shoes or rubber boots, even if this is not actually a cave.

If you cannot see Weathercote Cave, we strongly recommend a visit to Jingle Pot and Hurtle Pot, the other two windows into the flooded cave system. Both dolines can be accessed from the lane behind St Leonard’s Church, at Chapel-le-Dale, no reservation needed.