Discover the 6 Deepest Caves in England

The chamber room also known as the cathedral
© Ryan Mark Szydlowski/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kathryn Koehler

Updated: July 29, 2023

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While England’s caves may not be among the deepest in the world, they possess beautiful geological formations. Particularly in areas like the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District, there is a rich limestone karst, that has resulted in the formation of numerous caves and potholes. These caves can be quite extensive and challenging to explore. Many of these caves have attracted spelunkers and scientists which contributes to the understanding of England’s underground world. So, strap up your waders and grab a helmet with a headlamp, as we discover the 6 deepest caves in England.

Discover the 6 Deepest Caves in England: Depth

Depth is a distinct measure used to describe cave systems. Depth refers to the vertical extent of a cave system, specifically the difference in elevation between the highest and lowest points within the cave. The measurement is typically taken from the highest entrance or opening to the lowest point reached by a caver within the cave. The deepest caves are often characterized by vertical shafts, potholes, or steeply inclined passages. While there are caves formed by sandstone, chalk, and volcanic rock, the deepest caves in England are formed by limestone.

Limestone is a type of sedimentary rock composed primarily of calcium carbonate, and it is highly susceptible to dissolution by acidic groundwater. Over thousands of years, water percolating through the limestone has created an extensive cave system through a process called chemical weathering or karstification. The geology of England, particularly in areas like the Yorkshire Dales, the Peak District, and the Mendip Hills, is characterized by limestone formations. These regions feature numerous caves, sinkholes, and underground rivers.

Inside Kents Cavern prehistoric cave / Torquay, Dorset, UK

While there are caves formed by sandstone, chalk, and volcanic rock, the deepest caves in England are formed by limestone.

©Marcin Mierzejewski/Shutterstock.com

Discover the 6 Deepest Caves in England: Lost Johns’ Cave

Lost Johns’ Cave is one of the deepest caves in England. It is part of the extensive Three Counties System. The cave has a vertical depth of approximately 692 feet (211 m). The cave consists of a series of pitches and shafts that require technical rope work for descending and ascending. The Dome, Centipede, and Monastery routes are the three primary routes in the cave which was explored in 1928.
Lost Johns’ Cave is a popular destination for experienced cavers due to its challenging vertical nature. Exploring the cave requires technical skills in vertical caving techniques, including the use of ropes and harnesses. Lost Johns’ Cave is part of the interconnected Three Counties System, which includes other caves and potholes, such as Notts Pot. The interconnected nature of the system allows cavers to explore different passages and connections within the network.

Entrance to Lost Johns' Cave England

Lost Johns’ Cave has a vertical depth of approximately 692 feet (211 m).

©Colin Gregory, CC BY-SA 2.0 – Original / License

Discover the 6 Deepest Caves in England: Notts Pot

Notts Pot has a depth of approximately 515 feet (157 M), making it one of the deepest caves in England. Also known as Notts Hole, it is a significant cave in North Yorkshire, England. It is one of the deepest and most challenging caves in the region. The cave was first explored in 1946. The cave’s vertical reach includes a series of pitches and shafts that require technical rope work for exploration. Notts Pot has a complex and challenging network of passages that require experience and specialized equipment for exploration. The cave’s vertical nature and tight squeezes make it a popular destination for skilled cavers seeking a technical and physically demanding underground adventure.

Notts Pot has a complex and challenging network of passages that require experience and specialized equipment for exploration.

©Langcliffe, CC BY-SA 4.0 – Original / License

Discover the 6 Deepest Caves in England: Titan

Titan is a remarkable pothole cave located in Derbyshire, England. It is renowned for being among the deepest known cave shaft in Britain. Titan’s vertical depth of approximately 463 feet (141 m), makes it an indispensable destination for experienced cavers seeking a challenging descent. Titan’s impressive depth is equivalent to the height of a 46-story building. The descent into the cave requires specialized equipment, including ropes, harnesses, and other vertical caving gear.

Titan is located near the village of Castleton, which is known for its limestone landscape and numerous caves. Titan can be accessed from Speedwell and Peak Caverns, caves in the wider Peak Cavern System. Though it wasn’t discovered until 1999, Titan is well-known among experienced cavers due to its deep vertical shaft. It attracts caving aficionados who are seeking challenging and technical cave descents. Due to its demanding nature and the need for specialized equipment, it is recommended that only experienced and well-equipped cavers attempt to explore Titan.

Speedwell Cavern, Castleton, Derbyshire - Danger falling rocks sign in the snow

Titan can be accessed from Speedwell (pictured) and Peak Caverns, caves in the wider Peak Cavern System.

©PhotoShed/Shutterstock.com

Discover the 6 Deepest Caves in England: Ireby Fell

Ireby Fell Cavern, also known as Ireby Fell Pot, is a notable pothole cave located in Lancashire. It is part of the extensive Three Counties System, one of the largest cave systems in the United Kingdom.
Ireby Fell Cavern has a vertical depth of approximately 420 feet (128 M). It is one of the deepest known caves in England and offers challenging vertical caving experiences for experienced cavers. Ireby Fell was first explored in 1949.
Ireby Fell Cavern is well-known among spelunkers for its challenging vertical nature. Exploring the cave requires technical skills in vertical caving techniques, including the use of ropes and harnesses.
Ireby Fell Cavern is part of the interconnected Three Counties System (Ease Gill Caverns), which spans the boundaries of North Yorkshire, Cumbria, and Lancashire. This vast network of caves, potholes, and underground passages offers a variety of exploration opportunities for experienced cavers.

Ireby Fell Cavern has a vertical depth of approximately 420 feet (128 M).

©Langcliffe, CC BY-SA 4.0 – Original / License

Discover the 6 Deepest Caves in England: Aquamole Pot

Aquamole Pot is a notable pothole cave located in the West Kingsdale area of the Yorkshire Dales. This region is renowned for its limestone karst landscape, which has resulted in the formation of numerous caves and potholes. Aquamole Pot, discovered in 1974, has a vertical depth of an astounding 371 feet (113 m). It is a significant pothole cave known for its impressive underground pitches and formations. Aquamole Pot is well-known among cavers for its challenging vertical nature. Exploring the cave requires technical skills in vertical caving techniques, including the use of ropes and harnesses.

A caver preparing to descend a 24 metre deep shaft in the One-armed Bandit Series of Aquamole Pot, West Kingsdale, North Yorkshire, England.

Aquamole Pot has a vertical depth of an astounding 371 feet (113 m).

©Langcliffe, CC BY-SA 4.0 – Original

Discover the 6 Deepest Caves in England: Gaping Gill

Located in the Yorkshire Dales National Park in North Yorkshire, Gaping Gill (aka Gaping Ghyll) is an impressive pothole cave with a vertical depth of approximately 322 feet (98 m). Gaping Glii was first explored in 1895. Gaping Gill is renowned for its massive main shaft, which is so large that Westminister Cathedral could fit inside! In wet weather, a waterfall disappears into the depths of the cave, and this has attracted the attention of explorers and caving enthusiasts for many years. Exploration of Gaping Gill requires technical caving skills and equipment due to its depth and challenging passages. Cavers often visit the cave, and there are organized trips to explore its depths, but it is essential to have proper training and equipment for safe exploration. Gaping Gill cave is but a small portion of the Gaping Gill system.

People viewing the underground area in Gaping Gill

Gaping Gill is an impressive pothole cave with a vertical depth of approximately 322 (98 m).

©duke_gledhill/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Kathryn Koehler is a writer at A-Z-Animals where her focus is on unusual animals, places, and events. Kat has over 20 years of experience as a professional writer and educator. She holds a master's degree from Vanderbilt University. When she is not writing for A-Z-Animals, Kat enjoys puttering in her garden, baking deliciously healthful treats for her family, and playing with her two rescue mutts, Popcorn and Scooter. She resides in Tennessee.

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