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Show Caves

Show caves, in the UK is usually the term used for commercial caves that are easily accessible to the general public (tourists), charging an entrance fee, and having specific opening hours. A good example of a show cave in the UK is Cheddar Caves in Somerset, which was the first tourist show cave in the Britain over 200 years ago. In the caving fraternity they are known as 'closed' caves as they are generally privately owned and not open to the public outside the commercial opening hours, unless for specific groups who have usually paid a fee to the owners of the caves.

Because they are open to tourists they usually have some, if not all, of the following attributes:

Trails: Those parts that are easily accessible have had installed paths, bridges, staircases, ladders and sometimes even cable cars, elevators, boats or trains to take the visitor around a designated route.

Lighting: Caves are dark places so it is necessary to install light. This is generally electric light which can be coloured or pointed to specific features they want to show you. Some caves provide visitors with headlamps or flashlights.

Guided tours: Most show caves have guides who provide a guided tour, telling you about the cave, local history, explains the geology, answers questions, and makes sure the visitors do not do any damage to the cave. There are some caves that provide self guided tours, but generally there are boards with explanatory texts, or audio guiding systems to make the visit more enjoyable.

Opening hours are important, otherwise the cave would not be open to the public. Many caves are open all year, but most caves are open during the summer tourist season and closed during the later winter months.

We have a list of show caves in the UK , where you can visit and  photograph what is on offer.


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