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White Scar Cave

White Scar Cave, a fine and long, active Yorkshire stream cave without any pitches


A lovely active stream cave with no pitches. Rather wet, but very worthwhile. The cave can - and does - flood drastically on occasion; heed the showcave manager's advice as regards daily water levels and be prepared to rearrange your trip for another date if weather conditions are particularly adverse.

5th July 2008

Weather conditions: Heavy, thundery summer showers. We were advised early in the morning that water levels in the cave were currently OK and provided we were out by about 2pm (which we were), the weather forecast indicated that we should be OK. Despite several heavy showers passing over during the time we were underground, we did not notice any significant rise in stream levels. However, torrential rain later that afternoon must undoubtedly have had an impact on the streamway.

Kit required: None, but a wetsuit is an advantage, especially in winter. The water in the cave is very cold!

How to find it: You can't miss it – look for the brown signs for White Scar Show Cave on the B6225 Hawes-Ingleton road!

Access: Contact the show cave manager at White Scar Show Cave to check current access and to arrange a date to visit. An access fee of £2.50 per caver is charged at the time of writing. All participants on the trip must be members of a recognised caving club and /or hold BCA insurance.


Go through the showcave and take a right turn just before the flight of steps leading up to the artificial tunnel leading to the Battlefield Chamber (unless you have been given permission to visit the Battlefield, in which case do go up to visit this first as it is extremely impressive – the walk up the steps will also ensure you are suitably warmed up for the next bit of the cave). The previously-mentioned right turn leads to a barrier which you need to hop over or through; you are immediately into deep water (the first lake), which can be negotiated using ledges on the right hand wall. The second lake (61m long) follows on immediately and again, ledges can aid progress but it can just as easily be swum. At the end of the lake the bulk of Big Bertha – an enormous boulder – confronts you. Negotiate your way through the boulder choke by following, in the main, the orange guide line. Keep low wherever possible, as climbing up will eventually lead you up into the Battlefield, and exit here is out of bounds. There are a couple of squeezes which very large or tall cavers may find a bit awkward. Once through the boulder choke (take note of water levels here, as the cave can, and does, flood drastically on occasion) you'll end up in a tall and very attractive streamway.

Here the pleasure begins, with many marvellous metres of big romping streamway, fossil-rich rock, cascades and an abundance of unspoilt formations. There are routes off, in particular the Sleepwalker series which we have not done, but the main route carries on to the sump eventually via another short swim (look for the scaffold bars, they’re at the deep bit!) and some low, wide ducks that can be waded or swum through depending on your personal preference. On the way back, you'll pass a greasy rope climb to the left. A little further on, a short rope-assisted climb (off balance and EXTREMELY SLIPPERY on the moonmilk floor at the top) leads into a stunning chamber with very long, delicate straw stalactites. These are very fragile, so don’t have too many people at once up here – there's not a great deal of room and the moonmilk is treacherous underfoot.

From the entrance to the showcave, a sensibly paced trip to the sump and back including a visit to this chamber and allowing for a few photo stops should take about 4 hours.