Site Columns By Lisa
August 8, 2001 - 5:41 PM

Hello World!

Yesterday I went to the Devil's Arse. Yes, you heard me right. I really did go into the Devil's Arse. And yes, they really do have a web page.

The Devil's Arse can be found in a very nice little town called Castleton in the middle of the English Peak National Park. Castleton is a very picturesque place, containing a medieval ditch, a ruined castle high on a hill, little shops selling ice cream and local jewellery, sheep and lots and lots of tourists. It also has one delightful little Ye Olde Tea Shoppe that makes the most delicious Belgian chocolate waffles you will ever taste in your life.

If you continue to wander through the village, you will pass little miners cottages nestled along a river. Built in that delightful beige-coloured limestone that you see all around the Peak District, every step brings another photo opportunity. And then suddenly, you are confronted by the Devil's Arse. And it's a pretty amazing sight, I can tell you.

The Devil's Arse is actually a very large cavern. The largest natural cave mouth in the United Kingdom to be precise. It's HUGE. So huge, that a whole community of villagers made their home inside it, making rope for the local lead mining industry.

We wandered about inside the cave for quite a while. Intrigued by the glorious rock formations and colours inside the cave, and just how BIG the damn thing was. Apparently, people had lived inside and visited it for centuries, and been just as intrigued by it as we were. We were told that the first written record of the cave is in the Doomsday book. Our tour guide soon opened the fragile looking gate, and we began our descent into the bowls of the earth...

Good grief, it was dark in there. And in the 21st century, the cavern has modern (but subtle) lighting in place to ensure no-one slips and breaks their necks. We were told that 16th century visitors made their way into the cave by the light of two tallow candles. Needless to say, we were very glad we weren't visiting back then.

Part way down, there runs a river through the cave. The only way to get further for hundreds of years was in a very small, rickety boat, pushed through by two of the rope makers who lived inside the cave. Apparently, many people turned back at this point. One of the people who refused to get into the boat was Queen Victoria. She stayed inside the cave long enough to change its name - the Devil's Arse would never do - to the Peak Cavern (she also changed the name of the castle in the village, from the Castle that sits on the Devil's Rump to Peveril Castle) and made a run for daylight. We were rather more fortunate, as a passageway had been blasted through to the cave above the river, in the hope of attracting the Queen back again. Unfortunately, the passageway is very low and narrow - it's referred to as Lumbago Walk, for rather obvious reasons.

Past the river, visitors to the cave hundreds of years ago climbed on the back of their tour guides to inspect the rest of the cavern. They left their mark on the place by inscribing their names on the cavern walls. The names and dates they wrote there can still be clearly seen. My American companions were amazed to discover graffiti older than their own country in the cave.

Visitors in the past were also greeted by strange noises coming from underground rivers and sink-holes. These, ah, unusual noises are what give the cave its name. Just use your imagination. For them, all caverns were reputed to be passageways to hell, and the strange noises could only be attributed to the Devil himself. I have to admit, it is pretty damn spooky in there. But it's also very spectacular. If you ever get a chance, it's well worth a visit.

Oh, and for all those who are wondering how I compared to Caillan in the the Star Trek personality Test: I took it twice. First time, I got Captain Janeway and Tom Paris, the second time I was pronounced as Chakotay and Beverly Crusher. I must change my mind a lot.

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