Clapham, Ingleborough Cave and Nature Trail
The traditional stone built Dales village of Clapham is an excellent base for exploring the Ingleborough area. Its scenery of woods, fields, and moors has been shaped over 200 years by the Farrer family.
From the village, the Nature Trail goes through beautiful lakeside woodland to the Ingleborough Show Cave, which forms an outlet to the famous Gaping Gill system. Discovered by the Farrers in 1837 and now open to the public, its wonders include the deepest waterfall in England. The trail, named after Reginald Farrer, commemorates his exploits travelling the world in search of plants and new species.
Limestone scenery on the surface has a special beauty, but underground in Ingleborough Cave it is spectacular. Impressive floodlit cave stalactites & stalagmites up to 350 million years old feature in the one kilometre journey through the best showcave in Britain. Large passages and no steps make the cave suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
In the surrounding countryside there are limestone gorges, beautiful Dales scenery and deep potholes such as Gaping Gill, where Fell Beck goes underground on its way to Ingleborough Cave. The Beck drops 110m from the moor into Gaping Gill Pothole, Britain's largest cavern, and the fall of the Beck into the pothole is Britain's highest unbroken waterfall. Gaping Gill was first descended in 1895 and the way through to the outlet passages at Ingleborough Cave was eventually discovered in 1983.
From the Cave Visitor Centre in the Clapham car and coach park the Nature Trail leads 2km to the Cave. Cross the Fell Beck by the narrow footbridge ("Brokken Bridge") and follow the Beck upstream, passing the Church and waterfall to reach the old Sawmill at the top of the Village. The Sawmill, powered by water turbine, is still in use, and tickets for the Trail are obtained from the cottage in the yard.
The path leads on into beautiful woodland and by the lakeside where Reginald Farrer (1880-1920), the famous botanist, introduced over a hundred new plants into Europe from the Far East. You can see Himalayan Rhododendron, bamboo and other unusual plants in a constantly changing scene. The lake is artificial, up to 15m deep and provides power to the turbine at the Sawmill. It also used to provide the Village with its water supply.
The Nature Trail continues up the Clapdale valley to Ingleborough Cave, and returns to Clapham through farmland and woods. There is access for wheelchairs. A descriptive Trail leaflet has been published by the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
The Cave is open daily with conducted tours at regular intervals during the period March 1st to 31 October. During the winter months it is open at weekends and also by appointment mid-week. No special clothing is required and dogs are allowed on a lead. It is only very rarely affected by wet weather. In fact, the wetter the weather, the more spectacular is the Cave!
There are special rates for parties. The Cave can also be accessed by wheelchair by arrangement. Light refreshments are available from the Cave shop and there is ample picnic space. There are toilets at the Cave.