There are many notable attractions in Buxton that draw thousands of tourists annually. Sitting comfortably in the top slot on Tripadvisor for many a year is Buxton’s only show cave, enticing most of these visitors into its depths. Local heavyweights such as Buxton Opera House, The Crescent, The Dome and Pavilion Gardens can only look upon Poole’s Cavern’s no.1 position with envy. So why is a damp old cave the undisputed king of Buxton?
- It has a story to tell
The story of Poole’s Cavern is the story of Buxton. Journeying back through the ages, from limestone formations millions of years old to the Roman occupation, from Mary Queen of Scots to the outlaw who gave the cavern its name, this place has all the history in one juicy nutshell. The outlaw incidentally was John Poole, who reputedly used the cave as a lair and a base to rob travellers in the fifteenth century.
Mother Nature has been particularly creative with the interior of the cave, offering a sequence of galleries and grottos, carved out by mineral-rich water over thousands of years, and embellished by modern lighting. The cave itself is about 2 million years old and is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. The cave has the fastest growing stalagmites recorded in the UK, due to lime waste tipped in the 18th century on the hill top at Grin Low creating up to 1cm growth per year! We guarantee that your jaw will drop at least once.
More than just a cave
The cave is only part of the experience. The guided tour of the cavern is supported by a visitor centre, a gift shop, a café (Café in the Cavern), not to mention the adjacent Buxton Country Park which offers leafy walks (and a 300 feet ascent) through the woods to a Victorian folly called Solomon’s Temple. In fact, it’s entirely possible to find enough fun stuff to do without even stepping foot into the cave.
Both the cave and the woods are known for an abundance of natural fauna and flora. Poole’s Cavern has recorded the presence of several species of bat, and you might also be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a hare, hedgehog, weasel, fox, badger and of course plenty of squirrels. Butterflies are in abundance during summer in the meadows near Solomon’s Temple. You may also be in for a treat if you know your rare birds or flowers.
If you read the multitude of online reviews visitors have left, many of them mention how friendly, entertaining and knowledgeable the tour guides are. Their colleagues who work in the shop, in the café and elsewhere on site have all adopted the same standard of hospitality. It’s a simple thing but it makes all the difference.
Lots of parking
Another straightforward feature that most people take for granted. There’s nothing worse than having to drive around looking for a spot to park up, especially in a place you don’t know. Poole’s Cavern has its own ample car park with plenty of room for everyone.
It doesn’t matter about the weather
A thousand foot about sea level, the UK’s highest market town has its own notoriously unreliable microclimate. Down the cave, it doesn’t matter if it’s raining; the temperature is a constant 7c (44f) all year round. Various forms of life have sheltered in Poole’s Cavern for thousands of years!
Even as far back as the 19th century, consideration was given to improving access to the cave for tourists, widening the entrance, levelling the pathways inside and installing lamps to light the way. Nowadays, wheelchair users can access the facilities and the main chamber of the cave.
There’s a reason the cave accommodates its fair share of school parties; some of the history that lingers within its shadows are on the national curriculum. And what better inspiration for any budding geologist than to witness the grand product of a two-million-year-old geographical process?
It’s a reasonably priced day out
Apart from paying for parking and admission to the cave, Poole’s Cavern offers a day out on a budget, especially if you take a picnic and fill the rest of the day exploring the network of paths in the woods; see how many of the wooden sculpture way markers you can find – owls, rabbits, birds and more!
You may have your own reason for loving Poole’s Cavern and Buxton Country Park. If you haven’t visited yet, you can plan your visit here and book tickets online at poolescavern.co.uk (please note advance booking is advised).
Poole’s Cavern & Buxton Country Park, Green Lane, Buxton, SK17 9DH
T: 01298 26978