Yordas Cave


Useful Information

Main Chamber in the Yordas Cave, from "Views of the caves near Ingleton, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove" by William Westall, published by John Murray 1818.
Location: Kingsdale, Yorkshire.
On west side of the Thornton to Dent road, in a small plantation, 1,5 km beyond Braida Garth. 100 m walk from the road.
(54.20659, -2.452462)
Open: No restrictions.
[2021]
Fee: free.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave Lower Carboniferous limestone
Light: bring torch
Dimension: L=213 m, VR=43 m, A=312 m asl. Biggest Chamber: L=50 m, W=15 m, H=15 m.
Guided tours: L=100 m, D=30 min.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: John Hutton (1780): A Tour to the Caves in the Environs of Ingleborough and Settle, pp. 14-18 (reprinted 1970). pdf
William Westall (1818): Views of the caves near Ingleton, Gordal Scar, and Malham Cove, in Yorkshire. London: John Murray.
Address: Yordas Cave,
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

1653 earliest inscriptions.
1751 first described in detail by Richard Pococke.
1771 marked on Thomas Jefferys map of Yorkshire.
1780 described by John Hutton in an appendix to Thomas West's A Guide to the Lakes.
1800 visited by William Wordsworth, the English Romantic poet.
1816 exterior and interior sketched by William Turner, the English Romantic painter.
JUL-1817 a devastating flood fills much of the chamber with debris.
1818 three views of Yordas Cave in William Westall's book of aquatinted engraved views of Yorkshire.
1890 visited by Robert R. Balderstone.
1925 first through trip from the entrance in the upper gorge by the Yorkshire Ramblers' Club.
AUG-1932 Back Door Entrance opened up by members of the Northern Cavern and Fell Club.
DEC-1963 Yordas Pot entrance appeared after a storm blew over a tree covering the shaft.
FEB-1964 Yordas Pot explored by members of the Gritstone Club.

Description

A formation in Yordas Cave, from William Westall (1818): Views of the caves near Ingleton, Gordale Scar and Malham Cove, published by John Murray.

The name Yordas Cave is derived from the Norse Jord ass or Jörð á which means earth stream. There are many streams in the area, and why this one would be an "earth" stream remains unclear. Another legend tells, it is the lair of the infant-devouring Norse giant Yordas. We are not the first to wonder how a giant would fit through the relatively small, human sized entrance. However, this story has already been told by the local guide to geologist John Hutton in 1780 when he visited the cave.

The cave was run as a show cave by its owners in the early part of the 19th century, so it is often described as a Victorian show cave. There are stone steps from this time at the main entrance, leading down into the main hall. Also, there are cave descriptions from that time (see links below). But the guided part of the cave was at that time only the main chamber.

The entrance to Yordas Cave leads directly into the main chamber named Great Hall of the Giant Yordas. This is a rather big chamber of 50 m by 15 m and up to 15 m high. There are three small passages leaving this hall to the right and to the left. The smaller second chamber called the Chapter House contains a waterfall.

There is a theory, that many of the places in Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë are originally in Yorkshire. If this is true, the most likely place for Emily's Fairy Cave would be Yordas Cave. This sounds very likely, as this cave was a rather famous show cave at the time Emily Brontë wrote this book. And she attended the Clergy Daughters' School in nearby Cowan Bridge,

Like many caves in the area this cave is a result of contact karst. Water flowing as a subaerial brook over crystalline, insoluble rock until it reaches the border of the limestone, vanishes immediately underground. In this case they are called Yordas Pot and Yordas Sinks, where the brook vanishes undergroung in a waterfall. The caving or cave trekking visit of the cave starts at this entrance of the cave with an abseil and a walk through the cave river until it reaches the cave entrance. But even if you do not plan the through trip, the chasm and the waterfall are worth the short hike.

The cave is on the ground of Braida Garth Farm and private property. Nevertheless it is inside the Yorkshire Dales park and not closed. There is a website which recommends to ask the owner at Braida Garth Farm before entering the cave. We would recommend, not to do this. How would you feel if you work hard and are disturbed several times a day by tourists who want to visit your cave for free? If it were not okay for them, they could simply add a gate. But although permission is not required, please visit the cave respectfully and responsibly.

It is not possible to visit the cave after heavy rains, as the main chamber may flood up to 2 m high. In summer it is normally possible to visit the cave in walking shoes, although rubber boots are recommended.