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Gaping Gill Photo by Craven Pothole Club

Gaping Gill

Gaping Gill is one of the most famous caves in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and one of the largest underground chambers in Britain. It is normally reached from Clapham by walking past Ingleborough Cave and up onto the slopes of Ingleborough. Please take care around the entrance as it is unfenced.

About Gaping Gill Cave

The main chamber measures 129m long, 31m high, and 25m wide. Fell Beck pours over a lip of rock above and crashes 100m to the floor of the cavern before draining through to Ingleborough Cave.

The Gaping Gill cave system is one of the longest and most complex in the UK, in fact, it wasn’t until 1983 that members of the Cave Diving Group made the connection between this cavern and Ingleborough Cave.

Settle man John Birbeck, who also made the first descent of Alum Pot, attempted the first descent in 1842, having first diverted the beck. He was lowered on a rope by farm labourers but he only reached a ledge 58m (190ft) down. It is known today as Birbeck’s Ledge.

In 1895 Frenchman Edouard Martel made the first descent to the bottom using a rope ladder and a candle. He kept in contact with the surface by telephone.

Experience Gaping Gill for yourself with a visit!

Gaping Gill can be enjoyed by cavers and non-cavers alike, thanks to two local caving clubs. For a one-week period in May and August, the Bradford Pothole Club and Craven Pothole Club run a ‘winch meet’ event, at which they set up a winch to allow members of the public to descend into the chamber. The descent takes a matter of minutes, and the explorer is then able to wander around Gaping Gill chamber, under the beauty of floodlights, to see the magnificent sights.

You can find out more about the ‘winch meet’ at Gaping Gill by going to the Council of Northern Caving Club’s website.

Specific details, including upcoming dates, can be found on the club websites:

Exploring caves takes knowledge, the right equipment and experience. It is best to gain these either through a course run by a qualified guide, or by joining a local club. If you know what you are doing and just need to hire some equipment, then Inglesports is the place to go.

Have a look in the Call in the Experts section or on the New to Caving website for a local club.