There's a whole other world of incredible sights right beneath our feet.
Hidden underground in the Yorkshire Dales, especially around Clapham and Ingleton is an extensive network of cave systems and potholes. Some are easily accessed, others more suitable for experienced cavers.
Thanks to the Three Counties Cave system, you could go underground in Yorkshire, move under Lancashire and emerge in Cumbria. It's already the longest system in Britain but new entrances and passages are constantly being found - there are at least 40 different entrances and it's thought to be about 90 km long. I love some of the expressive names of different parts of these caves such as the Bull Pot of the Witches, and Wretched Rabbit Passage!
You don't have to be an experienced caver to see some of the magical underground spaces, as we have three show caves, Ingleborough, White Scar and Stump Cross Cavern. These are all open to the public, and relatively easy to access although you have to be prepared to walk and down (and up!) a number of steps.
One of the most famous caves and largest underground chambers in Britain is Gaping Gill. Thanks to the Bradford Pothole Club and Craven Pothole Club who set up a gantry over the main shaft, there are chances (usually twice a year in May and August) to enjoy a really incredible underground experience, being winched 100 metres down into Gaping Gill. Organisers joke that the cost to go down is free, but the ride up again costs £15. A bargain to see one of Britain's secret awe-inspiring beauties.
Is it in our blood to feel excited when, out walking in glorious countryside we come across an easily accessible cave? Does the rush of pleasure and urge to explore come from thousands of years ago when this would have meant shelter, possibly a new home? Or maybe it's just the hint of adventure that a hole in a cliff or in the ground represents? If you enjoy exploring in this way, there are numerous caves to discover in the Yorkshire Dales. Use the map on the Dalesrocks website to see where to go for different types of caving adventure and find out more about their formation.
If you're of an even more adventurous disposition, you might like to explore some of the potholes and caves that fewer people know how to access. Rather than risk getting stuck and having to call out cave rescue volunteers, it's best to go underground with someone who is an accredited adventure activity guide such as Alfresco Adventures, Yorkshire Dales Guides, or Lost Earth Adventures .
A few years ago a small group of passionate volunteers established the Overground Underground Festival, which has now grown to offer an extensive programme of events from May to September including caving, abseiling, and geology talks and walks.