The Peak District is known for its amazing caves, in fact, there are numerous caves in the Peak District where you can go on tours and explore the below the ground.
But there are also some really cool caves you can explore on walks. They might not be as big or impressive as some of the cave tours. However, they are free to visit and perfect if you want to entertain your kids on any walks that you’re doing!
Here you’ll find seven different caves in the Peak District that you can visit on day walks. From the popular caves like Thor’s Cave to Robin Hood’s cave as well as some other less-known ones that are perfect to explore.
There are details included for walks that you can do to visit the caves, also some walks have more than one cave so an extra treat if you’re out exploring!
Let me know in the comments if you’ve done this walk and what you think!
7 Peak District Caves (you can explore on walks)
These are all caves that you can find on walks in the Peak District, whilst some are relatively small a head torch will be handy to explore some of them. It means you can see where you’re going and you have your hands free if you need them!
A headtorch is also useful to have if you’re doing evening/sunset walks.
Thor’s Cave near Wetton
Thor’s Cave is one of the most impressive caves you can visit for free in the Peak District. It’s also the picture on the OL24 map if you’ve ever wondered where that photo was taken.
The cave is the largest cave that you can visit in the Peak District (without paying for a tour!) But it also makes it a popular place to visit so if you can go off-peak times then you might be lucky enough to have the cave to yourself!
You’ll notice the entrance to the cave has polished rocks, this is from the number of people visiting that has worn the rocks down over time, it’s fascinating but also very slippy, especially if it’s been raining so take care!
Top tip – Take a head torch to explore all the way to the back of the cave
You can visit Thor’s cave on a walk from nearby Wetton – this 5-mile route is perfect to explore the cave and Manifold Valley. All the walk details are included, plus you can visit a second cave on this walk too!
Dove Holes Cave, Dovedale
The Dove Holes cave is one that you simply can’t miss if you’re walking down Dovedale, as you turn the corner, shortly after Ilam Rock the Dove Holes cave appears in front of you.
Unlike Thor’s Cave, you won’t need to torch to explore as the cave is aptly described as a hole because that’s pretty much what it is. You can still scramble up to the top part of the cave but as you can see from the picture above the light flooding in won’t give you any issues with navigating!
If you want to do this walk there are a couple of options.
If you’re planning a shorter circular walk then you can try this walk from Thorpe, which also includes Thorpe Cloud and Bunster Hill – 7-mile walk from Thorpe. To visit the Dove Holes you would need to add a short out and back detour from Ilam Rock, about 1.2 km in total.
Or alternatively, you can do this longer 10-mile route that goes via Milldale then back via Tissington Trail.
Both these walks also go past another secret cave in the Peak District, keep reading and I’ll tell you where to find it!
Wolfscote Dale cave near Hartington
This is another popular cave to visit, you can tell by the smooth stone on the entrance to the cave. As regards to its size, it’s only a small cave but it has an almost perfect spot to sit and admire the view.
At the start of Wolfscote Dale, instead of walking along the path by the River Dove take the uphill path which leads straight to the cave. There’s also a second cave just around the corner, I missed this out on my first visit so it’s on my list to explore. (Let me know what it’s like if you visit).
You can visit this walk on a beautiful 5-mile walk from Hartington, taking in three of the Derbyshire Dales – Beresford Dale, Wolfscote Dale and Biggin Dale. It’s a perfect short walk along the River Dove with limestone rocks surrounding the dale and then loops back to Hartington where there are plenty of pubs and shops for a post-walk treat!
Read the full walk route here – Wolfscote Dale + Biggin Dale walk from Hartington
Robin Hood’s Cave on Stanage Edge
For many years I walked along Stanage Edge and had no clue that this cave existed. Robin Hood’s cave (grid reference SK 24424 83589) is located about 1 km from the southerly trig point (the one nearest Upper Burbage Bridge), a great place to start your walk if you’re looking to do a short day hike.
The cave has wonderful views of below Stanage Edge, but if you think it will offer you shelter you’ll probably be disappointed, I stopped for lunch there on the 9 Edge walks and it was just as cold as sitting on the top!
Alternatively, if you’re looking for a long walk along Stanage Edge, you have the 9 Edges, mentioned above or you could do this great circular walk from Redmires Reservoir to Stanage Edge, including Stanage Pole too.
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Reynard’s Cave, Dovedale
Again, another cave that I didn’t know was there for some time. On the Dovedale walk, there are no signs for Reynard’s Cave (grid reference SK 14507 52499) so it’s one that you need to know about! The route to this cave is steep and you’ll need decent hiking shoes or boots to safely climb to the top.
On route up to the cave, you’ll go under this cool archway, perfect for photos and admiring the view down of Dovedale. From Dovedale stepping stones it’s about 1.5 km to the path leading to the cave. Walk along the path and after Lover’s Leap, where the path ascends then descends to a viewpoint it’s about 700 metres (approx 10 minutes walk).
You can visit Reynard’s cave on any walk along Dovedale – check out this 7-mile walk which also includes Thorpe Cloud and Bunster’s Hill.
Hermit’s Cave near Robin Hood’s Stride
The Hermit’s cave isn’t one that that you go inside, as you can see from the picture above it’s been fenced off, but it has a fascinating story and it’s certainly worth adding to your list of walks and caves in the Peak District to explore.
The cave location is below Cratcliffe Crags, next to Robin Hood’s Stride and makes a great circular walk from Elton – you can do as a short walk or extend to include Bradford Dale too. Read the full routes below
- Robin Hood’s Stride from Elton | 4.5-Mile Route
- Robin Hood’s Stride Walk + Bradford Dale from Elton | 8-Mile Route
Wetton Mill caves, Wetton
After exploring Thor’s cave on the walk from Wetton I hadn’t expected to find even more on the same walk. These caves are located just above Wetton Mill on this 5-mile loop from Wetton but can easily be missed as the path takes you directly down to the mill.
The first larger cave was pretty impressive and I was pleasantly surprised when I went inside – I won’t spoil the surprise. But the second cave had a few treats too, in the photo the second smaller cave is to the left of the main one and this is fantastic to explore too.
Do you enjoy exploring caves in the Peak District? Let me know in the comments any cool ones you’ve found.
Other useful information
If you’ve tried some of these walks and fancy trying a cave tour here are the most popular ones you can visit in the Peak District.
- Speedwell Cavern near Castleton
- Peak Cavern + the Devil’s Arse, Castleton
- Blue John Cavern, Castleton
- Heights of Abraham + caverns, Matlock
Jenny from Peak District Kids recently visited the Heights of Abraham and caverns at Matlock. You can read about their adventure and review of the tour here.
Exploring caves in the Peak District
There are many more hidden caves in the Peak District, always venture with caution if you’re exploring a new cave on a walk and if in doubt then turn back.
Please note there are also some caves that you would need a professional guide to accompany you – I’ve explored a couple of these with a company as a full on caving experience – they are pretty cool and worth the money for a guide!
Let me know of any cool caves you find!
Weather in the Peak District
Check the weather for your walk location and hills, although caves make a great shelter if you’re not prepared, a waterproof jacket is much handier to get you back to the start of your walk.
- Met Office weather for the Peak District
Ordnance Survey Walk Map
The majority of these walks require this map for the walks – OL24 – Peak District (White Peak Area). Check prices here with Ordnance Survey or Amazon. If you’re hiking in all weathers the Active OS maps are pretty good to have. But the Robin Hood’s Cave is on the OL1 – Peak District (Dark Peak Area). Check prices here Ordnance Survey or Amazon.
And don’t forget your compass, I recommend the Silva Expedition compass
More walks in the Peak District
Love the walks in the White Peaks? You might like these Peak District circular walks and you might even spot a few smaller caves on these walks too!
- Chee Dale walk with stepping stones
- Tideswell Dale + Cressbrook Dale from Litton
- The Roaches + Lud’s Church walk
- Chrome Hill walk
Or check out all our Peak District walking routes here
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Please note 'Peak District Walks' accepts no liability through any injuries or accidents that may result from walking this route. We always recommend you take a paper map and compass on your walk. Read more here.