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Yoga Cave

Exploring a British Cave System


Dr. Dave Ross splashes through the Corpse Crawl in Yoga Cave.

Crawling through the muddy water in the Corpse Crawl passageway is one of the most memorable sections of Yoga Cave.

Photograph © Dennis Jump/Jumpsuits

Yoga Cave is found in the Stoney Middleton catchment area in the Derbyshire Peak District in central England, a rugged area abundant with natural caves and mines. Cavers estimate that only 20% of the Peak’s known cave systems have so far been discovered.

Yoga Cave Has Natural and Mine Passages

Besides natural caves shaped by running and dripping water, lead miners, working from the early 1700s until the late 1800s, dug out deep shafts and tunnels, many of which intersect natural cave passages. Yoga Cave, a 590-foot-long (180-meter) grotto, is such a cave with a mix of both natural and manmade passages.

Yoga Cave Offers Good Adventure

Yoga Cave is listed as a Grade 2 on the cave rating system, cave ratings reflect the difficulty and danger in a particular cave relative to another cave, which runs from 1 (easy) to 5 (extremely difficult and hazardous). Yoga Cave is ideally suited as a short caving trip that is suitable for novice cavers, although it has to be said, Yoga offers "extremely good value" at this grade!

Rubbish Bag Entrance

The Rubbish Bag Entrance, one of three entrances to Yoga Cave, is the usual entrance used by cavers. This small entrance is found at the foot of a small quarry wall not too far from A623, the main road through the village of Stoney Middleton. Stoney is also the home to extensive vertical limestone cliffs which have long been popular with rock climbers.

Small and Tight Passageways

Start exploring Yoga Cave with a short climb down from the entrance slot into a small living-room-sized chamber, with signs of working and mining spoils heaped around. Next descend through a hole in the floor, which leads into a low and muddy crawling passageway. The passage varies in size and height from hands and knees to flat-out crawling along the wide phreatic tube, a characteristic elongated tube formed by slow-moving water that erodes into joints in the surrounding limestone bedrock.

Don’t Get Stuck!

British caver Dennis Jump says his first trip into Yoga Cave was memorable: "The latter half of the cave system provided much excitement since the small passageway was heavily silted and one of my party became tightly wedged between floor and ceiling." The leader had to turn around to help dig gravel from under the hapless caver’s chest so he could continue squirming through.

The Corpse Crawl

A couple of tight twists through the narrow passage leads to the most exciting part of the trip—The Corpse Crawl. This is a body-size passageway which is often at least partially full of water. The crawling caver usually needs to submerge at least one of his ears in the water to push through the passage. It's best to wear a caving suit, such as those made by Dennis Jump's company Jumpsuits, to stay warm and dry in this wet section.

A Final Passageway

Beyond Corpse Crawl, a section of wide but low phreatic passage leads to a junction. Take a right turn in the right passage which soon leads to a small tight exit to sunlight and freedom! Yoga Cave is a really fun trip and never fails to provide a memorable adventure for the beginning caver.

Learn More About Caving

If you are a beginner, however, don’t venture into this or any other cave without proper training, proper equipment, and a competent caving leader or guide. A good way to go caving as a beginner is to join a club outing. The National Speleological Association (USA) or the British Caving Association (UK) can direct you to caving clubs as well as lots of other information to be safe underground. Before caving anywhere, check out So You Want to Go Caving, an informative brochure published by the British Caving Association, and A Guide to Responsible Caving from the National Speleological Association.

Article and Yoga Cave information provided by Dennis Jump with Jumpsuits in the United Kingdom. Thanks Dennis!

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