Friday, 25 February 2011

Headbanging Down The Yorkshire Cave

Where do you offer to take your children on a half-term outing when you are 6'6 and a half inches tall (or 1m 99cm to the more progressive)?

To the caves, of course. White Scar Cave near Ingleton, North Yorkshire. Why is it called White Scar? I can only guess that it is named in honour of tall people. I lost count of the amount of times I hit my head on the rocky ceiling which would have left me with a long white scar on my forehead, but for the hard hat I was wearing, which took the brunt of the clashes.

It is a great place to go. I've been to a few caves around the world where they are either religious sites, overcrowded with tourists, have millions of bats flying in and out or they seem to focus on putting pretty coloured lights on shapes made by the stalagmites and stalactites. 'This is Tony Blair...Ronaldo...Marilyn Monroe...Bono...', they would say on the guided tour.

"If you start seeing all sorts of different things," the guide at White Star Cave said, "then you've been down here too long."

"That looks like Harry Potter," piped up a small boy.

"Been down here too long," repeated the guide.

What I liked about White Scar is the naturalness and the history. The main cavern is breathtaking. It's natural beauty, formed over millions of years is awesome. The guide is excellent. She hit the right note between amusement and a history lesson in geology. The best thing was that her enthusiasm for White Scar was infectious. The history is well documented along the half mile route to the main cave is well explained.

It was not until 1990 that some tin miners from Cornwall completed a passageway by dynamiting the rock and the general public could gain access to the 100ft high Battlefield Cavern, so called by the first lady who found it and thought the large boulders strewn on the floor resembled the aftermath of a giants' battle. The lighting is minimal and the sounds of the cave and the rushing water of the underground river are magical. It is a special place.

"Duck, Daddy," a voice yelled on the return trip.

Too late. There was the sound of an elephant entering a porcelain shop, as my hard hat connected with the 200,000 year old rock. There was no excuse for me hitting it as yellow stripes had been painted on all the low spots.

The guide looked worried. "See up there. That stalactite was broken off by a clumsy tourist."

I exited the cave as fast as possible so as not to be labeled as the second elephantine tourist. My children looked as relieved as the guide. For once their Daddy had avoided shaming them.


  1. Hi ABD
    I avidly read your excellent blog every day and usually find something to chuckle about. But I notice that you get very few comments (maybe it's a little cluncky)- just wanted you to know that you were appreciated.

  2. Thanks for your comment Richard. That's nice to know. If this blog makes people amused, then that is just the best for me.