Stump Cross Caverns

Official Guide to the Show Caves

Harry Long (2001): Stump Cross Caverns, Official Guide to the Show Caves
20 pp, 10 colour plates, surveys, colour cover. Price GBP 1.00 on sale at the cave.

Stump Cross Caverns near Grassington in Yorkshire is one of the countries leading show caves and one of the few that actually encourages cavers to explore and extend the cave.

The cave was discovered accidentally by two lead miners in 1860, Mark and William Newbold. Caves are usually disliked by miners as they contain no lead ore, but the Newbold brothers were from Derbyshire and knew the value of a cave that could be opened up and shown to the public. Knowing that access via a vertical shaft would be unpopular with visitors they opened up a sloping rift, installed steps and by 1863 the cave was opened to the public.

In 1903 Messers, Eli Simpson, F Botterill and H B Jasper surveyed the cave and confirmed its length as 900 m, but it was not until 1921 when Christopher Francis Drake Long first visited the cave that things started to happen. Realising the potential of Stump Cross Caverns, Christopher Long organised a group of fellow students into a 168 hour digging marathon and discovered 450 m of well decorated passage. Over the years numerous clubs including: British Speleological Association, Craven Pothole Club and Yorkshire Underground Research Team have dug in the cave. In 1955 the YURT broken into Reindeer Cavern, famed for its animal remains and pristine speleothems. Reindeer Cavern was only opened to the public in 2000. One cannot mention Stump Cross Cavern without naming Geof Workman. In 1963 he won the world record for his 105 day solo sojourn in the lower levels of the cave. During his 3+ month repose Geof spent a lot of his time digging to extend the cave. Since then, Geof has continued this work and in 1996 he discovered another well decorated extension which lengthens the cave to well over the 6 km mark.

Mention must also be made of the many fine colour photos which illustrate this booklet. the fine centre page spread of Reindeer Cavern by Andy Jackson is particularly noteworthy.

This book manages to hit the right note between tourism and speleology. The cave explorer will be interested to read about the discoveries over the years and the tourist will find accounts of how caves and speleothems are formed invaluable.

Text by Tony Oldham (2003). With kind permission.