Speedwell Cavern

Speedwell Mine

Useful Information

The Winnats is a beautiful valley at the end of the Hope Valley.
Location: At the foot of the Winnats Pass, a few kilometers west of Castleton, Peak District. 25 km from Sheffield, 45 km from Manchester.
Open: All year daily 10-17.
Last tour 16.
Fee: Adults GBP 7.75, Children (5-15) GBP 5.75, Children (0-4) free, Concession GBP 6.75, Family (2+2) GBP 26, Additional Child GBP 5.75.
Groups: Adults GBP 6, Primary School GBP 3.50, Secondary School GBP 4.25, Sixth Form GBP 5, Teachers/Carers child rate.
Combi Ticket Peak Cavern and Speedwell Cavern:
Adults GBP 15, Children (5-15) GBP 8.50, Children (0-4) free, Concession GBP 10.25, Family (2+2) GBP 26, Additional Child GBP 5.75.
Groups: Adults GBP 5.50, Primary School GBP 5.25, Secondary School GBP 6.50, Sixth Form GBP 7.50, Teachers/Carers GBP 8.50.
Car Park GBP 2.00 (GBP 1 refunded at cave).
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave with large artificial parts, former mining.
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=2,400 m.
Guided tours: L=500 m, D=30 min.
Bibliography: Trevor D. Ford: The Story of the Speedwell Cavern
Trevor D. Ford (1990): Speedwell Cavern Eine Führung mit dem Boot, 32pp, SB. Many colour plates German Guidebook to the cave which is entered by boat. Includes description, notes of Blue John.
Trevor D. Ford (1990): Speedwell Cavern Visite Guidee en Bateau, 32pp, SB. Many colour plates French Guidebook to the cave which is entered by boat. Includes description, notes of Blue John.
Address: Speedwell Cavern, Winnats Pass, Castleton, Hope Valley, Derbyshire S30 2WA, Tel: +44-1433-620512, Fax: +44-1433-621888, E-mail: contact
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.


1771 Thomas Bennet bought the rights for New Rake, the southernmost ore vein in Speedwell.
1774 most likely the start of the mining.
1778 Bottomless Pit reached.
1781 Stream Caves reached.
1790 (maybe earlier) the work was stopped.


the entrance to Speedwell Cavern

Speedwell Cavern lies at the foot of the Winnats Pass, just a few kilometers from Castleton.

From the entrance a staircase with 105 step leads down to a waterfilled artificial tunnel. The following boat ride, makes Speedwell unique in all British show caves. A waterfilled tunnel, part of the former lead mine is the access to the caverns. Several years ago, the boat was propelled by the guide pushing the wall on either side. Later a second guide lied on his back, walking along the ceiling. Today the boats are equipped with an electric motor.

The first widening in the tunnel is Half-way House, a small chamber, which allows the boat in and the boat out to pass. This tunnel ends at an enormous chamber called Bottomless Pit. It is about 100 m high and contains a 20 m high waterfall.

It seems, that the Bottomless Pit and the Stream Caves were already known before the tunnel was built. There were shafts from the surface, that are blocked now. So it seems, the tunnel was a try to allow the transport of large amounts of ore by boat. The project was led by James Gilbert, who was the Duke of Devonshire's agent for the Ecton Hill mines in Worsley near Manchester. He already installed a similar system there.

But the assumed rich beds of ore were never found and so the mine was a financial disaster.

Speedwell Gallery