Going Underground!

Some days it feels like I just can’t get away from work! The other week I went to Poole’s cavern with a friend and found out that it has some unexpected links with Hardwick Hall.

I have always loved exploring caves and I really enjoyed attempting my caving badge with scouts (until the abseiling down a waterfall in the dark that is *shivers*).

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Poole’s Cavern was a much more sedate exploration of a cave complex, no harness or helmet needed! The caves were beautifully lit and the tour guide was very interesting, coping well with a large tour full of children but still fitting in lots of fascinating facts and answering all our questions. He even took the time to tell us more about the cavern on the way back.

The cavern have had some famous visitors in its history, including Mary Queen of Scotts who visited the cave in 1582 while she was under the ‘care’ of the Earl of Shrewsbury. While she was visiting Mary embraced one of the natural pillars of the cave and kissed it, claiming who ever kissed it would have good luck. However given how things ended up for her I opted not to try it!

Mary's Pillar

Mary’s Pillar

Prior to it being opened as a show cave intrepid explorers would have to crawl through a hole to get into the cavern. However in 1853 the owner decided to open the cavern to the public, so created a new entrance that was slightly more accessible, by blowing it up with dynamite!

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This owner was the 6th Duke of Devonshire, also known for cutting up tapestries and turning beds into throne canopies at Hardwick Hall! For many years the cavern was lit with gas lamps, which I think is a completely mad idea but never lead to any dramatic incidents, amazingly.

The biggest stalagtight in the cavern is known as the flitch of bacon. Apparently it used to look more pig like before explorers discovered the big sparkly rock hanging from the ceiling and snapped the end off! Honestly it could make you cry.

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The Flitch of Bacon

Further into the cavern there are stalagmites nick named poached eggs, for obvious reasons. There are some stalagmites that are now dead, because people have been touching them. The oils on people’s hands have coated the top of the stalagmite and will prevent it from growing any further. They also turn black, a perfect example of how damaging touching can be, not only in historic houses.

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The Poached Eggs

At the end of the cavern there was a beautiful sparkly rock. It was very interesting and the guide pointed out different parts that looked like different animals, including a swan and a dog. I couldn’t capture the stunning sparkles on my camera so you will have to go in person to truly appreciate how beautiful it is.

Sparkly Rock

Sparkly Rock

After our trip underground we had a wander around Buxton and found a craft fair in the park. I bought a beautiful frog pin cushion, combining two of my favorite things, frogs and sewing! I also had some very good luck in the charity shops too, a very successful day out all round!

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My frog!

My frog!

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