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Top places to explore caves

The view across the lake towards the bridge from the Grotto at Stourhead, Wiltshire
View from the Grotto at Stourhead | © National Trust Images / Hugh Mothersole

Have you ever explored a cave? From mysterious grottos to beach caverns that only appear at low tide, there are many adventures to be had. Maybe you'll even discover the cave that's said to be home to the Queen of the Fairies. Here are some of the top caves to explore.

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire
The grotto at Calke Abbey is a cavern made of bricks that have been disguised with minerals. It was built in 1809 and features water cascading from the back wall into a pool.Explore Calke Abbey
Claremont Landscape Garden, Surrey
Claremont is home to a series of caves and other curious follies. After formal gardens went out of fashion, the three caves here were designed to look completely natural.Discover Claremont's caves
Croome, Worcestershire
See if you can find Croome's grotto by the lakeside. This cave, made out of tufa and limestone, used to have semi-precious gems, coral and shells on the walls. Look out for Sabrina the stone statue, goddess of the River Severn.Plan a visit to Croome
Dolaucothi Gold Mine, Carmarthenshire
Explore the underground world of tunnels and caves on a tour at Dolaucothi Gold Mine. The mines are set in wooded hillsides overlooking the Cothi Valley. See and hear the 1930s mine and its machinery. You can even have a go at gold panning and experience the frustrations of searching for real gold.Go underground at Dolaucothi
Dovedale, Derbyshire
Climb up from the main footpath running through Dovedale to reach Reynard's Cave. It's named after a highwayman who once lived in it, although it's believed to have been in use since prehistoric times.Find Dovedale's hideaway
Henrhyd Falls, Powys
The secret’s out: Batman’s lair is in Powys. This cave is concealed by Henrhyd Falls – a glistening 88 foot waterfall which was used as a film location for The Dark Knight Rises. Can you spot the cave through the silvery curtain?Discover Batman's lair
A group of visitors wearing hard hats approach a cave opening at Dolaucothi Gold Mine in Wales
Exploring the mines at Dolaucothi | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey
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 and please make sure you check the tide times before you go.Climb up to Holywell's cave
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.Explore the boil holes at Ilam Park
Malham Tarn, Yorkshire
Just a short diversion off the Pennine Way lies Janet's Foss, a magical waterfall and cave nestled in the woods. It's said that this secluded location is home to Janet, Queen of the Fairies. Can you find any signs of her mysterious presence?Look for the Fairy Queen at Malham Tarn
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 - you can see several shelves still cut into the rock.Find the cave at Quarry Bank
The Rock Houses, Staffordshire
The Rock Houses 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 day.The Rock Houses at Kinver
Stourhead, Wiltshire
Stourhead’s grotto 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.Search for Stourhead's grotto
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