Palace of a Norwegian Giant
This is a cave everyone can enjoy - from infants to grandmas - even great grandmas if they be so inclined! But a word of warning: Yordas is a giant of Viking legend with a craving for eating little boys and leaving their remains within. Think carefully before taking your grandson.
The cave is situated in Kingsdale - reached by turning off the A65 for Thornton-in-Lonsdale (just past Ingleton) and then taking the minor road towards Dent. The great flat floored valley was once believed to have been floored by a lake. The isolated farm of Braida Garth can be seen at centre.
Here's the parking spot - a little lay-by just beyond the wood. You will need a good torch each - and a helmet - as well as wellies. Aside of that - no more gear: just strong nerves if you don't like giants.
Here it is folks - it's looming on the left. In past centuries this was a showcave - and farmers would bring the gentry in here to earn a little bit of money. Emily Bronte came here on a visit from her school in nearby Cowan Bridge.
Writers from the past talk of a 'lunatic' who ran away from Ingleton to this cave. It was snowing, and, wanting to avoid detection - he removed the heels from his shoes and nailed them to the front - so it looked like someone had exited, rather than entered the cave. Why didn't he just walk in backwards??? There is also a sad tale of a woman, heavy with child, who was on her way to Dent through this 'inhospitable dale' and was found dead in this cave in the early 1800s.
(Picture by kind permission of Mike Hawkshaw)
The main chamber is so large it is difficult to photograph. Basically you enter the cave - taking care on the slope down to the stream - and turn left for Yordas' Bedchamber and oven - and right (following the sound of falling water) to the magnificent Chapter House. Here we've gone left - and Lucy (my youngest) is posing on a mud bank created by floods at the bottom of the main chamber.
At the bottom of the main chamber - the stream runs through this arch to Yordas' Oven. It is a wet hands and knees crawl - but there's an easier way - as I will soon show you ...
Lucy posing before the 'door' to Yordas' Bedchamber - where the giant slept off his destructive moods. This is a dry - but muddy - hands and knees crawl.
Now when Yordas Cave floods it does so with gusto. Here you can see flood debris rammed into the ceiling. You needn't worry about flooding in this cave though. It is so enormous it takes a long time to fill up.
Here we go then - through to the Bedchamber. Yordas can't have been that enormous after all - if he could get through there.
From my position in the loft, I managed to get this photo of Lucy in the Bedchamber. We entered the chamber from that dark passage on the right - and the passage ahead leads through to the oven.
Time to go, then. This is as low as it ever gets in Yordas Cave - a quick hands and knees shuffle back through to the main chamber.
Walking up the length of the main chamber - your eyes will now be used to the dark - and will be able to pick out the sad sight of the fallen Pulpit. This pinnacle of limestone was one of the highlights of the cave for years. What caused it to topple? The giant, perhaps - fed up of people intruding on his private residence?
Behind the Pulpit - at the top right hand corner of the chamber - is the impressive cavity in the limestone called the Bishop's Throne. You can scramble up here and feel like a king - with walls towering 60 feet above you - and all kinds of weird and wonderful things to look at.
Yordas, of course, peers down on all who pass. The central mass of flowstone here is his chainmail coat, leading up to a roaring face at ceiling level - with his brandished club over on the right. In the feeble light of candles, held on a stick - this sight no doubt terrified the 18th century romantics!
Sitting on the Bishop's Throne - we are met with a feature I always call the Holy Turtle. His head is protruding from the shell on the left. Others see a fleece here - belonging to the ram we shall meet later.
The Giant's Club has been carefully positioned in the aven above the Bishop's Throne - to warn little boys what to expect if they mess!
The sad remains of the Pulpit - the huge pinnacle of rock fell off its base - probably a result of freeze thawing in the recent harsh winters.
The highlight of the cave is the wonderful Chapter House - a chamber with beautifully fluted sides into which a waterfall roars - and accessed through an anvil-shaped window in the rock.
With your back to the Chapter House, continue along the wall of the main chamber for the encrusted mass of flowstone known as the Map of Wales. Look - it even has an Anglesey. From here, Yordas planned his domination of the Welsh giants.
The Map of Wales - written about by tourists for centuries - and still there as the 18th century romantics described it.
Yordas Pot - the top entrance to Yordas Cave - lies in the gill just above. It needs gear and experience to have a go but is still a lovely sight.
The enigmatic Yordas Cave - a place of legend. For years a stone archway was built around the entrance, but this has been removed and the remains can be seen either side.