Hidden Earth 2023
A sink to rising Fairy tale in Weardale.
45 minute Lecture|Adele Ward
At 3.5km in length, Fairy Holes is one of the most significant stream caves in the country, with some passage dimensions more akin to south wales than other classic yoredale series caverns. Accessed via a quarry near Stanhope, the area around Fairy Holes is steeped in mining history. Legend has it that lead miners once entered the cave and travelled for seven days eventually emerging two miles away in Westernhope carrying their last inch of candle. Long considered apocryphal, new discoveries put the tale in a fresh light. 2022 saw major upstream extensions in Fairy Holes, with 1.3km of cave in several branches now mapped beyond the previous 'sump'. At the same time, reopening of Westernhope Mine has given access to 0.5km of previously unexplored streamway. The downstream sump in Westernhope is currently 150m from upstream Fairy Holes and draughts in both caves suggest a connection will soon be possible.
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