dispatch from yorkshire: victoria cave

Posted: May 26, 2014 in Photography, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , ,
The path turned to gravel

Looking back where the path turned to dirt

We were advised to seek out Victoria Cave, a natural wonder high in the Yorkshire Dales. It sits outside the village of Settle, recessed into the earth, apparently undetectable from the prescribed path. We parked the car off a neglected road with a vague assurance this was the place to start. Caryn’s brother and his two boys led this expedition relying on faded memories of a previous excursion. We advanced until we reached a dirt path. It led through sheep pastures and retention gates. As we slowly ascended we happened upon a hand carved sign for Victoria Cave conveniently pointed in the direction we headed. Our guide’s strength of conviction received a welcome reassurance.

Into the barren land

Into the barren land

The signpost up ahead...

The signpost up ahead…

We came to a crosspath and were encouraged to veer right, although signage no longer guided us. The path thinned and we passed grazing sheep unappreciative of uninvited visitors. We eventually reached another crosspath with two options – one vertical, the other horizontal. We were told the cave would only appear once we were practically upon it. We looked down the horizontal path and saw it fade into the horizon. The vertical path offered no clues other than mysteries. Mysteries always win out. The large gravel shifted underfoot like loose tile making for adventurous travel.

Keep moving, humans. Keep moving.

Keep moving, humans. Keep moving.

The path thinned.

Looking back where the path thinned

We reached a plateau with a small maw in the earth. Before discovery could embrace us our Sherpa resolutely said this was not Victoria Cave. Not only that, but this revelation stirred concerns whether we had taken the proper unmarked paths. Should we head back and try another direction or continue upward to the next plateau? We realized upward was the only convenient option which might provide near-term success since it kept us hugged against the rocky hill.

Secret cave

Secret cave

We got to the next elevation and saw nothing. Until we took a few extra steps. Then the cave presented itself on our left like a forgotten tunnel. As promised we could not see it until we practically entered it. The cave, undiscovered until 1937, is now fully excavated. It has yielded a plethora of valuable animal remains, some over 130,000 years old. Unearthed Roman coins and brooches hint at a greater purpose, perhaps as a sacred shrine. Today visitors who manage to happen upon the cave are advised that venturing inside carries significant risk. Indeed, it projected a decidedly foreboding air. We opted for exploring only the outer edges. But the real treasure was not what may lie within Victoria Cave. The views offered from this perspective sweep across the landscape like a dream. One look and we realized our only option was to sit down, relax and let the natural majesty embrace us.

It was worth it for this view

It was worth it for this view

Even views above were spectacular

Even views above were spectacular

Spoils of victory

Spoils of victory

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Comments
  1. rangewriter says:

    How cool! I agree…didn’t you go inside? I’m dying to know what it was like, besides COLD inside that cave, even if it has been excavated.

    Like

  2. sparklebumps says:

    Wait, what?! You didn’t go inside?! There might have been a mermaid or a dragon in there!
    By the way, I love how the sheep are totally camouflaged in that picture.

    Like

  3. Rick says:

    I’m glad you didn’t run into any werewolves like those other two Americans in the movie. Of course, it was daylight.

    Like

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