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is a Site of Special Scientific Interest
A Site of Special Scientific Interest is a conservation designation denoting a protected area in the United Kingdom. SSSIs are the basic building block of site-based nature conservation legislation and most other legal nature/geological conservation designations in Great Britain are based upon...
Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster, and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Although Lancaster is still considered to be the county town, Lancashire County Council is based in Preston...
. An area of typically heavily grazed open moorland of rough grass and remnant patches of heather with little or no tree cover, it is characterised by the virtual absence of surface drainage and an extensive subterranean drainage network resulting in cave systems and numerous sink holes. It surrounds the high point of Gragareth
Gragareth is a mountain in Lancashire, England. At it is claimed to be the highest point in Lancashire, although Green Hill , 2 km north and on the Lancashire-Cumbria border, takes this title in List of English counties by highest point...
(627 metres) between Leck Beck
Leck Beck is a watercourse in Lancashire with its source on Crag Hill in Cumbria between Leck Fell and Casterton Fell.For several kilometres near the start of its course, the water flows into the Easegill Cave System, the longest cave system in Britain via 14 major sink holes to converge at a...
The pasturing of animals, along with changes in the climate in the later Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...
, contributed to deforestation of the open fell sides and the development of hill peat deposits. The present landscape is dominated by long straight enclosure walls of later 18th or 19th century date.
A number of important cave systems have been known and explored since the 1930s on Leck Fell, many of which have been linked below the water table by cave diving
Cave diving is a type of technical diving in which specialized equipment is used to enable the exploration of caves which are at least partially filled with water. In the United Kingdom it is an extension of the more common sport of caving, and in the United States an extension of the more common...
. These include:
- Lost John's Cave
Lost John's Cave is the most extensive cave system on Leck Fell, North Yorkshire, England. With its three major vertical routes it is a popular place to practice SRT because of the opportunity for exchange trips...
- Rumbling Hole
Rumbling Hole is one of the many fenced off sink holes near the road on Leck Fell, North Yorkshire, England. The entrance shaft is approximately 50m deep and often with a small waterfall cascading down the side opposite the single solitary Yew tree that grows at the edge of the vertical shaft and...
- Notts Pot
Notts Pot is cave system on Leck Fell, North Yorkshire, England. It is described as 'the most concentrated vertical maze in Britain'....
- Short Drop Gavel
- Ireby Fell Cavern
Ireby Fell Cavern is a cave system on Leck Fell, North Yorkshire, England.This popular cave starts with a pitch series that eventually opens out into a very large series of dry sandy passages....
A formal permitting system operates for access to the caves, with no caving allowed in April, May and June.