Peak Cavern - Speedwell Cavern

Cave details

17.75 km
Vertical range:
248 m
Part mine
Peak District

This cave is well known as a showcave (currently called The Devil's Arse), with both main entrances being showcaves, one of which is a mine. The Peak Cavern entrance is the largest in Britain at 31 m x 18 m (though Smoo cave has a larger cross sectional area due to Peak Cavern's entrance being partly filled with sediment), and the Titan Shaft is the highest pitch in Britain, at 141.5 m (or 145 m from the highest point to the lowest, but never rigged that way), all free-hanging. Truly impressive. The large part of Titan above the Event Horizon (at +65 m) is approximately equal in volume to the second largest chamber in Britain. The Speedwell Main Rising is the second deepest sump in the UK, dived to 70.2 m. (A second deep sump once existed at the "Bottomless Pit", but was filled with mining debris to leave it just 20 metres deep. The original depth is not known, but may be quoted as 150 metres based on the amount of debris dumped in there; such a depth would be extreme, and it is more likely that the lower depths are significantly wider than the top, allowing more space for debris in a shallower sump.) Several streamways run through both main sections of the cave with avens leading to small muddy passages that connect the two caves. A lengthy sump can be passed to access one section of the lower cave. In the same area is the Peak Streamway which contains one of Britain's finest examples of a phreatic tube.

A mine entrance on the moor above provides a route into the cave bypassing both showcaves. This route contains some impressive artificially enlarged shafts, and the through trip from here to the Peak Cavern Resurgence entrance is 240 m, of which the first 50 m+ of depth in this route is mined, and not enlarged natural passage. An artificial 46 m shaft has been dug (inspired by a choke) to enter Titan 136 m off the floor, which makes a 241 m deep through trip. These are the deepest mainly-natural through trips in Britain, but due to the artificial nature of the top sections, they cannot hold the record for the deepest cave through trips, though they are still impressive. Other artificial through trips in the Milwr Tunnel are also deeper. This also means that roughly 40 metres of the cave's quoted depth is artificial, and the cave's natural depth should probably be treated as 208 metres.

The cave system has a dedicated Web site with many further details, and a description is available on the HNH pages.