Before you question whether I am being crude, or have been to the seventh circle of hell. I am not, and have not. Instead, I thought I’d enlighten you on my venture of exploring the largest cave entrance in the British Isles, which happens to be known as the
Devils Arse (charming eh!), which is situated in the middle of the peak district in England.
You’ll have to read on to find out why the cave is called the Devils Arse!
There are 13 national parks in England and Wales, and the Peak District takes up a considerable chunk of land, covering Northern Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Staffordshire. It is an incredible area to explore, and although I’ve been a few times, I feel I’ve only scratched the surface.
Visiting Peak Cavern (The Devils Arse) in Castleton, Derbyshire
If you want to visit the largest cave entrance in Britain, then you’ll need to head to the cute little village of Castleton, which is approximately 1 hour from Derby, and 35-40 minutes from Sheffield and Chesterfield. It is well connected by roads, and the scenery is incredible.
My trip to the peak district was a trip planned to catch up with a friend. We had planned a lot of things for that day, but many of them had to be put off, due to the weather, so we decided that exploring caves would be our best bet.
Having nearly been blown off the road, we settled on the first cave we came to (Peak Cavern), which is the closest to access on foot, from the local car parks (which are surprisingly reasonably priced).
We rocked up and found they were open to having tours (you may need to check if weather is bad, as they can be cancelled due to flooding). We paid the £9.75 each (adults), and waited 20 or so minutes until the next tour was to begin.
A tour of the Devils Arse (Peak Cavern)
The tour lasted 1 hour, and we were led by an enthusiastic German tour guide, who humoured us with witty jokes at times.
The entrance to the cave is impressive, and had fibre optic lighting to guide us
to the exit around.
Peak Cavern is the only cave in the Peak district, which is nearly all natural, and once housed Britain’s last troglodytes, who lived in incredible tiny houses.
There are several passageways within Peak Cavern, and we were treared to stories about how the people living there would transport things, and manage to live day by day.
As we went deeper into the cave, it got darker, and there were incredibly small and dark little areas, where you needed to really bend down to fit through.
Further in, there were incredible chambers, with wonderful acoustics, in an area known as the great cave.
We then came across the source of the River Styx, and it was then that we were treated to the history behind the name
The Devils Arse came about when the cave flooded, and apparently the noises sounded like flatulance. However, the cave was renamed to Peak Cavern around 1880, so as not to offend Queen Victoria, when she was on her Royal Visit!
Preparing for a tour of Peak Cavern
You won’t need any specialist gear to tour Peak Cavern, but as it rains (frequently), the cave can get a little muddy/dirty, so good walking shoes are essential.
It was also a little chilly, even in summer – so make sure you pack a jacket or hoodie to keep you warm.
Other caves in the area
If you happen to be spending longer in Castleton, then a visit to Speedwell Cavern is a must, as you can get to explrore a cave system by boat, but do check if this is open in bad weather.