Speedwell Cavern

Speedwell Mine

Useful Information

The Winnats is a beautiful valley at the end of the Hope Valley.
Location: Winnats Pass, Castleton, Hope Valley, Derbyshire S30 2WA.
At the foot of the Winnats Pass, a few kilometers west of Castleton, Peak District. 25 km from Sheffield, 45 km from Manchester.
(53.341403, -1.792344)
Open: APR to OCT daily 10-17.
NOV to MAR daily 10-16.
Last tour 1 hour befor closing.
Closed 25-DEC, Boxing Day, 01-JAN.
Fee: Adults GBP 17, Children (5-15) GBP 10, Children (0-4) free.
Groups (15+): Adults GBP 10.50, Sixth Form GBP 8.50, Secondary School GBP 7.50, Primary School GBP 6.50, Children (0-4) free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave with large artificial parts, former mining.
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=17,750 m, VR=248 m, T=7 °C.
Guided tours: L=500 m, D=60 min, St=210.
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Trevor D. Ford: The Story of the Speedwell Cavern
Trevor D. Ford (1990): Speedwell Cavern Eine Führung mit dem Boot, 32pp, SB. Many colour plates German Guidebook to the cave which is entered by boat. Includes description, notes of Blue John.
Trevor D. Ford (1990): Speedwell Cavern Visite Guidee en Bateau, 32pp, SB. Many colour plates French Guidebook to the cave which is entered by boat. Includes description, notes of Blue John.
Address: Speedwell Cavern, Winnats Pass, Castleton, Hope Valley, Derbyshire S30 2WA, Tel: +44-1433-620512, Fax: +44-1433-621888, E-mail: contact
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.


1771 Thomas Bennet bought the rights for New Rake, the southernmost ore vein in Speedwell.
1774 most likely the start of the mining.
1778 Bottomless Pit reached.
1781 Stream Caves reached.
1790 (maybe earlier) the work was stopped.
1996 connections to Peak Cavern and James Hall's Over Engine Mine discovered.


the entrance to Speedwell Cavern

Speedwell Cavern lies at the foot of the Winnats Pass, just a few kilometers from Castleton.

From the entrance a staircase with 105 steps leads down to a water-filled artificial tunnel. The following boat ride, makes Speedwell unique in all British show caves. A water-filled 450 m long tunnel, part of the former lead mine is the access to the caverns. Several years ago, the boat was propelled by the guide pushing the wall on either side. Later a second guide lied on his back, walking along the ceiling. Today the boats are equipped with an electric motor. The boats can accommodate approximately 21 people and depart every 20 minutes.

The first widening in the tunnel is Half-way House, a small chamber, which allows the boat in and the boat out to pass. This tunnel ends at an enormous chamber called Bottomless Pit. It is about 100 m high and contains a 20 m high waterfall.

It seems, that the Bottomless Pit and the Stream Caves were already known before the tunnel was built. There were shafts from the surface, that are blocked now. So it seems, the tunnel was a try to allow the transport of large amounts of ore by boat. The project was led by James Gilbert, who was the Duke of Devonshire's agent for the Ecton Hill mines in Worsley near Manchester. He already installed a similar system there. But the assumed rich beds of ore were never found and so the mine was a financial disaster.