View of Buxton from Grin Low
Poole's Cavern lies to the south-west of Buxton centre, below Grin Low and Grin Low woods. The whole area is a country park in the care of Buxton Civic Association.
In Pooles Cavern
The cavern was formed by the action of the river Wye, which rises on Axe Edge and flows across Stanley Moor to the south side of Grin Low. Here it sinks into Borehole Swallet and follows an underground course right through the hill, emerging in Poole's cavern but going underground again before reaching the cavern entrance. It finally resurfaces 400m away, on the north side of St John's Road.
The cavern gains its name from 'The robber Poole', who is reputed to have lived in the cave in the 15th century. However, the cave has been used by Man since Neolithic times and archaeological digs have revealed Stone Age tools and artefacts, Bronze Age pottery and a wealth of Roman material. It seems that at one time in the Roman period the cave was used as a workshop by a craftsman who made bronze brooches and other metal items. Many Roman coins and pottery were also found.
The cavern has attracted visitors for hundreds of years, and there is a local tradition that Mary Queen of Scots came to visit on one of her trips to take the waters at Buxton during her imprisonment at Chatsworth. However in 1854 the 6th Duke of Devonshire, who owned the cave, made it into a show cave and entrusted its operation to a certain Frank Redfern, whose family were responsible for it until 1976. The cave was closed to visitors in 1965 and only re-opened in 1977 after its purchase by the Civic Association.
The entrance to the cave was once filled with a bank of debris, but this was removed by Frank Redfern in 1854. Beyond this there is an area which was once covered by flowstone. This was excavated by Boyd Dawkins in 1900, and again in 1982, uncovering a range of animal and human bones and Roman pottery. Some of the finds are on display here and at Buxton Museum.
The passage then leads into 'The Dome', a 12m high chamber with abundant flowstone. Beyond this is a boulder choke where the River Wye disappears - but only in winter, for the cave is usually dry in summer. Further into the cave we pass a large stalactite called the 'Flitch of Bacon', and rimstone pools, before the path crosses s bridge to the other bank of the stream. This leads to the 'Poached Egg Chamber', which is full of wonderful formations which have been coloured by minerals leached out of the lime-tips on the hillside above. These include manganese (blue-grey) and iron (orange).
Continuing onwards, there is the 'Queen of Scots Pillar', a stalactite boss approximately 2m high, and around the corner lies the last gallery, where there is a fine flowstone called 'The Grand Cascade', and 'The Sculpture' - a group of boulders which have been calcited together. Around here the accessible part of the cave ends, where the Wye flows into it from a boulder choke, but potholers have penetrated some distance further.
The woods above on Grin Low were once pock-marked with lime works and lime kilns, in which the stone was heated to change it to lime, so the whole area became covered with waste from these kilns. To remove this eyesore the 6th Duke of Devonshire planted it with trees in the early 19th century, which has now led to a mature wood of beech, ash and elm. The top of Grin Low, which once had a Bronze Age tumulus, is now capped by Solomon's Temple, a folly built in 1895 by public subscription to provide work for the local jobless. It makes a fine viewpoint.
Go-Ape have a 'tree-top adventure course' in Grin Low woods. For more details see this link
. Courses cost around £30 per head.