Monday, July 25, 2011

Stump Cross Caverns

After a couple of hours of playground and scone fun, we finally made it to Stump Cross Caverns.

Located in the rolling Yorkshire countryside, the caverns seem to be in a most unlikely spot. Then you find out that the area has hosted a lot of mining and quarrying industry in the past hundred or two years. The area is full of limestone which quite commonly has caverns.

We arrived on a fine sunny morning, paid our money, and headed into the darkness below. I did get a little claustrophobia as we donned our hard hats and headed down the stairs holding Jacob's hand. I don't know if I was keeping him safe or he was keeping me reassured. He definitely didn't seem worried about all the earth and rocks separating us from daylight. He just sang songs from They Might Be Giants and had a grand old time. After ten minutes, I was okay and enjoyed myself thoroughly as well.

Two blokes looking out for each other
There were many interesting and odd formations, like a cradle and a wedding cake. This cave also had an organ-like formation, but it seems to me I have seen one of those in almost every other cave I've been in.

Cradle formation

Creepy organ a la Scooby Doo
We all enjoyed being in the cave and would go to another cave anytime.

Hard hats were fashionably worn by Lucy and Jacob
I would say the hard hats are critical while down there. I must have bumped the ceiling at least a dozen times and my wife a half dozen. Lucy's dropped off a few times. She needs a bigger head or a small helmet.

The scariest thing about the caves was in the video we watched after coming out. In 1963, cave researcher Geoffrey Workman spent over 100 days in the caves without lights, watch, calendar, or anyone else with him. The only contact he had with the surface was a telephone for emergencies. He made a world record by staying down for 105 days. A record I am not interested in breaking.

One question often asked is about the name. Early records show the area marked as Craven Cross and sometimes Stub or Stubbe Cross. "Stump" is probably a corruption of the latter two names.

After the caves, we headed back to our cottage for a well deserved rest. What a splendid morning!

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