The Pengelly Trust Cave Studies Center in Buckfastleigh Hill, is a place rich in natural wonders. In fact, this trust zealously keep these magnificent caves by protecting and also impart information on their biological, geological, and archaeological importance. In order to provide such services of preserving the natural environment, a number of very strict rules are laid down concerning the visits to these caves by people. Everyday access to the public cannot be allowed, and guided visits to these magnificent caves are rare, or occasional, at best. The Trust offers guided tours of the caves for a fair price twice a week during August; depending on the case, groups may also be allowed to arrange off-season guided tours. The natural marvels hidden inside these “forbidden” caves together with expert knowledge concerning them are worth waiting for.
The Various Caves
The Higher Kiln Quarry Caves are easy to access; however, horseshoe bats use them to hibernate and they are kept closed during the cold months. The Joint Mitnor Cave or the “Bone” Cave has a substantial amount of animal bones that of elephants and bisons which are 125,000 years old; it can only be visited with a guide. Reeds Cave possesses enormous beauty and can only be entered by professional cavers during the warm months. There are similar caves with less restrictions around the same area. The Disappointment Cave has narrow passages of 0.5 m; once inside, a chamber with calcite formations is found. The Rift Cave’s grills were added with the help of the Worldwide Fund of Nature; it is the home of a substantial number of bats.
Recently reopened to the regular public, the Bakers Pit Cave is the largest in Devon, with passages that are more than km long. The 50-meter-long Spiders’ Hole Cave entrance is located 2 m above the floor.
The horseshoe bat is a species that prefers a warm habitat, which is why having them in Devon is such a rare treat. The Pengelly Trust has carefully organised these tours, by ensuring the protection and well-being of its fauna.