Stalactite & Stalagmite at Stump Cross

Remember the Difference between Stalactite & Stalagmite

A stalactite is named from the original Greek  stalasso “to drip” and meaning “that which drips” (drips do not go up except in science fiction.)
A stalagmite also from the Greek   stalagma is the “drop” or “drip” that ends up on the floor or running down the walls. (Sounds like a student flat)
You can remember the Greek derivation and work out which is which or you can recall the schoolboy incantation ‘As the tights come down, the mights go up!’ or another memory aid A stalactite – with a “C” – hangs from the “C”eiling in a cave system or cavern. A stalagmite – with a “G” is on the “G”round of a cave system or cavern.
Helictites are a delicate cave formation of calcium that changes its axis from the vertical at one or more stages during its growth creating a curving or angular form. Helictites have been described in several types, ribbon helictites, saws, rods, butterflies, “hands”, curly-fries, and “clumps of worms”.( I do not mind meeting Curly Fries but Clumps of Worms ugh!)


Stump Cross Caverns lie between Pateley Bridge and Grassington in Nidderdale. The limestone cave system at Stump Cross extends beyond the show caves which are open to the public to an overall length of approximately 4 miles.  Many of the deeper caverns are only accessible to experienced cavers.(see below)  In both areas there are numerous Stalactites and Stalagmites to inspire and damp corners to explore.

How the Caves Were Formed

The formation of Stump Cross Caverns began millions of years ago, when the area which is now the Yorkshire Dales was covered by oceans. Sediment from the ocean floor would eventually form limestone, the basic material from which the caves are made. The caves themselves began to form as the limestone was eroded by weak acid rain, created when carbon dioxide from the atmosphere mixed with the precipitation to form carbonic acid.
Many years ago, underground streams found their way into the cracks and began to expand the cave system as more rock was worn away. Once the streams had gone from the upper levels of the valley the cave system was left behind, and the mineral structures that are present today slowly began to form as water dripped through the caverns.

The caves at Stumps Cross were discovered in 1860 and have long been a visitors attraction. As I child I remember the’ butchers block’ a lump of stalagmite that was lit be a gruesome red glow. The impressive reindeer cavern was opened to the public in 2000 and development continues. The Stump Cross centre now includes a spacious tea rooms to cater for Patrons, who work up an appetite touring the caves, via a ‘Luxury Yorkshire Afternoon Tea’. Cave entry for the public is about £7 and more details and opening times are available here.

Caving as a Hobby

There is a list of Yorkshire Caving clubs and societies on the My Yorkshire web site. This may prove useful if you want to take up Potholing or caving as a retirement hobby but I think I will remain with my feet on the above ground. The Stalactite & Stalagmite formations have taken millennia to form and are very fragile so the British Caving Society produce guidelines on conservation access and protection.

I have no photographs as yet of the Stump cross formations so I have borrowed these American images from: Series: Ansel Adams Photographs of National Parks and Monuments, compiled 1941 – 1942, documenting the period ca. 1933 – 1942 Created By: Department of the Interior. National Park Service. Branch of Still and Motion Pictures. Photographer: Adams, Ansel, 1902-1984

Welcome to Otley – LS21

Otley Clock

Otley is a thriving market town renowned for the number and quality of its pubs (see earlier posts). The Clock commemorates Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, battles in the Transvaal and war time exploits. Near-by is the Navvies memorial that commemorated those railway workers who died building local tunnels. There is lots to see for history buffs.
The surrounding countryside provides  scope for fishing, clay pigeon shooting, riding and other outdoor sports.
Walking is a major activity as Otley is set in beautiful surroundings close to the Ebor Way and the Dalesway with the new attraction of the Six Dales Trail. This 38 mile route from Otley to Middleham  formally  inaugurated on 26th June 2010 by Janet Street Porter.

Otley still retains it’s cattle market, agricultural suppliers, blacksmiths, paper manufacturers, printers, engineers, lens manufacturers, a busy shopping centre and popular open street markets.
Disappointingly there is a shortage of bed and breakfast and overnight accommodation, surprising for such a bustling town but no shortage of pubs.

Otley from Moors

Top Ten Reasons to Visit Otley

  1. 1000 years of worship and the solid All Saints Church The church are organisers of the Otley Parish Church Beer Festival. A restoration and refurbishment project is currently underway in the church
  2. Thomas Chippendale cabinet maker extraordinaire celebrated by Otley-online
  3. Otley Folk Festival 2010
  4. Otley Show – The agricultural show for Lower Wharfedale first held in 1796.
  5. Wharfedale Morris Dancers the Wayzgoose
  6. Otley Museum
  7. Otley Courthouse cafe and event venue. Celebrating its 10th anniversary with lots of art and shows. Currently raising charitable funds to buy new chairs
  8. Otley Victorian Fayre and Christmas Market
  9. Otley Chevin and the Danefield Estate for walks and views.
  10. Titty Bottle Park and the riverside with a fine weir, ducks and park amenities.

Cloggers Otley

Around the corner is the Otley Lions bookshop that raises funds for good causes using only volunteer staff. Pop in for a chat and a book or two.

Danger from Cows in Field

Beware cows are not Tour de Yorkshire friendly as even Limousin cattle in the dales don’t moo in French.


This shot of Yorkshire cows is taken in the Wharfe Valley between Grassington and Burnsall. Generally speaking cows are placid animals who will happily co-exist with humans. However, there are occasions when cows and bulls can present a danger to walkers and ramblers. For anyone who enjoys walking in the countryside it is important to be aware of these potential problems.


When Cows Are Potentially Dangerous to Walkers

Firstly, cows do not look upon humans as a threat. However, they may see dogs as a threat, it harks back to the time when wolfs would attack cows and their calves. Therefore, it is a walker with a dog who is most under threat.
Secondly, the most dangerous time is after new calves are born and the cows feel protective towards their young.

If they see a walker with a dog approaching they may become defensive and attack the person with the dog.

If this was ever to happen, the most important thing is to let go of the dog. Your dog will easily be able to run faster than cows. If the dog runs away from you, the cows will lose interest in you. THe only danger comes when the walker won’t let go of their dogs and so gives the cows a reason to attack. Unfortunately, on very rare occasions tragic incidents of cows trampling over people can occur. However, if you take care to follow basic principles there is no need to fear cows in field