Thor's cave is a well known and impressive sight in the Manifold valley of Derbyshire. It is an eerie sight and often mist covered with the rocky hill it resides in having been likened to a giant fang. The cave entrance is clearly visible from several miles away and from nearby roads. The cave can be found at grid reference SK098865496 not far from the village of Huntington in the White Peak area of the Peak District national park.
It is a limestone Karst cave in an area of caves within the White Peak area with an entrance 10 meters in height. It is easily reached by a well served path from nearby car parks and a steep but stepped path up from the river valley 260ft below the cave. The steep climb is well worth it for the views across the valley (if you are lucky with the English weather). When wet water runs through the cave from the rear higher entrances and as with many limestone surfaces it becomes very slick and slippery at these times care needs to be taken in climbing up the cave entrance and into the cave itself, expect to get rather muddy! Climbers have used the cave for the last 50 years, with 11 routes listed by the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) with a variety of grades from Very Severe (VS) up to Extreme 7.
The cave is also known as Thor’s house cavern and Thyrsis’s Cave (a reference to a Shepherd in an English poem). The name Thors’s cave strongly links it with Paganism and the Norse Thunder God Thor although it has been suggested that this is poet license and the original name was Tor cave (a Tor being a rocky outcrop so would fit with the appearance of the cave). It was excavated in the 19th and early 20th centuries and the burial site of at least 7 people was found as well as bronze and pottery artefacts, indicating use by humans from the Iron Age and sometime before possibly as far back as 10,000 years ago making it one of the oldest inhabited sites in the Peak district. Also remains of a now extinct species of bear were found and some of these items are now on display in the Buxton Museum. The cave was used as one of the sets in the 1988 horror film by Ken Russell, “The Lair of the White Worm” which starred a young Hugh Grant. The area around Thor’s cave is well worth exploring as the valley has a large number of small caves and the river valley itself is very attractive, the caves can make it an interesting walk for children and a good way to get them into walking and exploring the countryside.