Kitley Show Cave

Kitley Cave - Kitley Shelter Cave

Useful Information

Location: Yealmpton, Devon.
From Stray Park follow the trail along the east end of the wood to the river Yealm. The cave is a few yards from the river bank in a small quarry.
(50.3443, -4.00358)
Open: closed.
Fee: closed.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: L=15 m, D=30 min.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: R. C. Bray (1964): Caves of Yealmpton, South Devon, Plymouth Caving Group Special Publication no. 3, 1964
Pete Glanvill (1993): Devon News, Descent nr.113, Aug/Sept 1993: 14-15 (photos, survey).
Andrew T Chamberlain, William Sellers, Chris Proctor, Roslyn Coard (2000): Cave Detection in Limestone using Ground Penetrating Radar, Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 27, Issue 10, Pages 957-964, ISSN 0305-4403. pdf
Address: Kitley Cave, Yealmpton, South Devon, Tel: +44-1752-880885, Tel: +44-1752-872196
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1970 opened to the public.
1999 "temporarly" closed to the public.


Kitley Show Cave is a rather small cave, but it is very interesting because of the multiple archaeological finds. Remains from the Stone Age include human artifacts and bones of elephant, hippo, hyena and cave bear, but also Bronze Age artifacts were found in this cave. The Stone Age finds are shown in the nearby Museum.

Unfortunately this cave has been closed in 2000 after being open to the public for 30 years. At the moment there are no plans to reopen the cave, but as this may change in the future we will keep this page. It is possible to walk to the cave and have a look through the gate, there is an official trail which includes the small quarry with the cave.

The caves are rather small, unimpressive, and the development was best described as basic. As a result the cave was visited by less and less visitors, a typical development since the 1990s and a problem for many small show caves all over the world. The owner Michael Bastard closed the cave because the visitors were not sufficient to keep the site running. In such cases its sometimes possible to create a tourist attraction like a theme park and include the cave into this bigger venue. He actually offered the cave and the 50 acres of surrounding land for such a development, but nobody was interested. In other cases the caves were taken over by non-profit organisations and operated with volunteers, but obviously there were no volunteers either. We left this page because there are many pages on the web which describe the cave without mentioning the closure.

The cave has a long history as a show cave. It was originally opened up in the eighteenth century after it had been discovered by quarrying. Recently it has been reopened and one can take a self-guided tour, going in one entrance, through a series of grottoes, and emerging through a second entrance. The educational side of speleology is emphasised and explanatory signs indicate features of interest. The cave is situated in a nature reserve, well stocked with local wildlife. There are signposted nature trails alongside the beautiful Yealm estuary. As an added attraction there is a 'stockade' with goats, ornamental pheasants and wild fowl. Every effort has been made to make this a full day's outing and not just a 30 minute visit.

Text from: Tony and Anne Oldham (1972): Discovering Caves - A guide to the Show Caves of Britain. With kind permission by Tony Oldham.