Explore curious caves

We've chosen our favourite secret caves. Some are so well hidden that you have to walk through waterfalls to get to them. Others only appear at low tide, and one cave in Yorkshire is said to be home to the Queen of the Fairies. Whichever cave you decide to visit, there are many adventures to be had.

Exploring caves in the Peak District

Dovedale, Derbyshire 

Climb up from the main footpath, running through Dovedale in Derbyshire, to reach Reynard's Cave. The cave is named after a highwayman who once lived in it. It is thought to have been in use since prehistoric times.

Kelsey Head, Cornwall

Holywell, Cornwall 

At low tide the cave can be found tucked under the southern cliffs of Kelsey Head. From the beach it appears a mere slit, but some steps lead up to several stepped pools ascending towards a hole in the cave roof. Take care on the steps, which are covered with slimy green weed. Please make sure you check the tide times before you go, and take someone with you.

Explore Ilam Park and see if you can find the caves

Ilam Park, Derbyshire 

You can see boil holes from the main footpath at Ilam Park. These strange caves are openings in the ground, down which two rivers can be seen bubbling and 'boiling'. The River Manifold and its tributary, the River Hamps, both flow largely underground. Rumour has it that in Victorian times one of the boil holes was used as a bath. Ask at our visitor reception for more detailed directions.

Rocks on the beach at Lydstep Headland in Pembrokeshire, Wales

Lydstep Cliffs, Pembrokeshire 

To explore the caverns at Lydstep, bear right where you leave Lydstep Head car park and go down the 100 steps to the beach. Please keep in mind that the caverns are only accessible at low tide, so check the tide times before you set out.

Children playing in the woods at Quarry Bank

Quarry Bank Garden, Cheshire 

Quarry Bank Garden is home to a cave with a rich history. It was once home to a family, who used gorse bushes to fill up the front and keep out the cold. Before that a hermit lived there. You can see several shelves still cut into the rock. In later years the cave was used to house owls.

Caves behind waterfalls

Visitor at Henrhyd Falls, Powys

Henrhyd Falls, Powys 

The secret’s out. Batman’s lair is in Powys. It can be found behind an 88ft (27m) waterfall, called Henrhyd Falls. In 'The Dark Knight Rises' Batman disappears behind the falls to enter his hideout. Amazingly this isn’t a camera trick and brave visitors can walk through the curtain of white water.

A young woman walking across roacks in front of a waterfall at Janet's Foss, part of the Malham Tarn Estate, North Yorkshire

Malham Tarn, Yorkshire 

This secret cave, hidden behind the waterfall in the Malham Tarn Estate, is tantalisingly out of reach. Follow the diversion off the Pennine Way to discover the magical waterfall and the cave that is said to be home to Janet, Queen of the Fairies.

Man-made caves

Children playing in Calke Explore! at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire 

Water cascades inside the grotto at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire. It is a cavern made of bricks which are disguised with minerals. The grotto was manmade in 1809 and features water cascading from the back wall into a pool.

View over the lake from the top of the amphitheatre at Claremont Landscape Garden

Claremont Landscape Gardens, Surrey 

Claremont Landscape Gardens, in Surrey, are home to a series of caves and many other curious follies. After formal gardens went out of fashion, the three caves were designed to look entirely natural.

View of the lake from inside the Grotto in the parkland

Croome, Worcestershire 

See if you can find Croome's grotto by the lakeside. This cave, made out of tufa and limestone used to have semiprecious gems, coral and shells on the walls. Look out for Sabrina the stone statue, goddess of the River Severn. She carries an inscription about the cave, 'the home of the nymphs'.

Visitors underground at Dolaucothi Gold Mines, Carmarthenshire

Dolaucothi Gold Mine, Carmarthenshire 

Join a tour to venture into the underground world of tunnels and caves at Dolaucothi Gold Mine. The mines are set amid wooded hillsides overlooking the Cothi Valley. See and hear the 1930s mine and mine machinery. Have a go at gold panning and experience the frustrations of searching for real gold.

The Pantheon seen from across the lake in the winter at Stourhead, Wiltshire

Stourhead, Wiltshire 

Stourhead’s grotto, in Wiltshire, is a circular, domed chamber built to resemble a cave. Set on the banks of a lake, even on the hottest of days it's always cool. Set children the challenge to find it as an incentive for completing the lakeside walk.

Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses, Staffordshire

The Rock Houses, Staffordshire 

The Rock Houses, in Staffordshire, are not built in natural caves, but were first carved out by people in the 18th-century; you can still see the chip-marks on the walls. With real fires and tunnels connecting rooms this is a snug place to escape to on wet and windy days and and a real departure from traditional stately homes.