Desperate not to have to venture into a soft play during a cold and wet Feb half term, I decided to try somewhere very different as an outing. The Hell Fire Caves in West Wycombe have been attracting children since 1754 when they were completed. Until 1951 visitors had to pick up a key to the door from the caretaker who lived in the house opposite. They were also given a small candle to light their way along the dark passages.
It’s still a popular Buckinghamshire family attraction but these days you pay at the cafe and the passages are all lit. The caves and passageways are all man made, created by workers extracting material for a new road between West Wycombe and High Wycombe.
We set off along the long winding tunnel which stretches a quarter of a mile. There are pocket caves along the way which have information boards with historical facts and set up scenes.
There was a half term children’s trail running while we visited and my boys quickly followed the passageways finding the letters along the way.
About halfway along, the tunnel opens up into the banqueting hall which gave us a wow after being in the gloomy passageways. The cavern has a high ceiling and is forty feet in diameter, in a compass-like design. It also features four niches containing various classical statues from Italy. It is still used to this day for occasional private parties and functions.
The caves are slightly damp inside and my boys were really excited to see stalagmites and stalactites for the first time. They were slightly less impressed with me trying to explain how they’re formed as they were ‘on holiday and not at school!’
The Hell Fire Caves would make a great trip around Halloween if you’re looking for something spooky to do. The ghost hunting team from the Most Haunted TV show carried out an overnight vigil here back in 2003. During the night they had many paranormal experiences, seeing light orbs and hearing noises such as babies crying and stones hitting gates. My 7 year old was slightly freaked out by the skeletons and Suki the bride ghost display but pleased to find the next letter clue on the trail.
The Hell Fire Caves run various events through the year so worth keeping an eye out especially during the school holidays. They have everything from torch tours to interactive experiences.
Hell Fire Caves Parking
There are only a handful of parking spots at the Hell Fire Caves but there is a free car park just a short walk away and you and can cut across the hill. Watch out if it’s been raining for weeks as it gets very muddy. The car park is signed as you approach but we drove right past as the entrance is not so noticeable. I’ve taken a picture of the map to help! It’s the car park which is just after the West Wycombe Garden Centre and it’s free.
There’s also a small cafe if you’re in need of refreshments. We spent around an hour at the Hell Fire Caves which was a great way to escape the cold and rain. I could have spent a little longer if I’d had the chance to read all the information boards but not easy with three boys racing through passageways. You could also spend longer if you were taking part in one of their seasonal events. It was a pretty good value trip for us as I’m a National Trust member so my ticket was £7 and they had a special kids go free offer so I didn’t need to pay for them. Full regular price it would be quite pricey for the time we spent there.
Adults – £8.50 Children – £7 (under threes go free) Concessions – £7 (inc Students & National Trust members) Family tickets (Max 2 adults and 2 children) – £24