Mother Shipton’s Cave Day Out in North Yorkshire

We were invited to review Mother Shipton’s cave in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. I haven’t been there in years so I jumped at the chance to visit and review one of the oldest tourist attractions in the UK. The attraction is located in the heart of Knaresborough which is not too far from Harrogate. It is in the most stunning location and it is one of the prettiest places I have ever visited.

This was day 28 of our #80dayschallenge to have at least 80 days out in one year.

A bit about Mother Shipton

Mother Shipton was born in 1488, in a cave on the banks of the River Nidd. Mother Shipton’s body was severely disfigured and as she grew older she looked more and more hagged like. Her prophecies such as the great fire of London actually came true and many believed her to be a witch. She only lived for a few years in the cave and after she grew up in the village of Knaresborough. The site opened as a tourist attraction back in 1630 and has been open pretty much ever since.

Mother Shipton’s Cave – A Review – Things to do

Upon arrival, I actually drove right by the entrance as it didn’t even look like somewhere cars could go. In the end, it turned out I was wrong and there are two narrow entrances at one of the oldest looking main entrances I’ve ever seen.

There is another access door for wider vehicles so don’t panic if you arrive in a big van/car. I did see a horsebox using the wider gate. If you have pre-booked online all you need to do is supply them with your name and you will be handed with a wristband for the day and a map. If you are paying on arrival have your card ready to pay in your car at the entrance gate.

We were then advised to pull over to use the toilet if we needed it before heading on down to the main car park. There is a toilet block by the main entrance, down at the furthest end by the other entrance and there’s a couple of portaloos halfway in between. We had driven for 1 hour 30 so we did stop. After that, we drove along by the river’s edge to the main car park.

There is plenty of parking here although do reverse in as some spaces can get quite tight. We were visiting for May half term which meant they had one of their special events on so we had an extra special map for our visit with things to tick off and find along the way.

Mother Shipton's Cave Day Out in North Yorkshire
The beautiful view from where we parked the car – across the river to Knaresborough castle

In my review I will firstly cover the things to do at Mother Shipton’s cave that are always there all year round to see and do. The path starts up at the main entrance and goes in a long path down to the smaller entrance by the Mother Shipton’s pub.

Because the car park splits both ends we walked down first and then up to the top afterwards. The gound is not suitable for wheelchairs. I saw a lot of people struggling with buggies so I would recommend visiting with a sling or baby carrier and leaving your buggies at home. There’s a lot of steps!

There’s plenty of information signs

Playground at Mother Shipton’s Cave

The equipment at the playground all looks really new. It’s a lovely big grassed area set partly on a hill. There’s plenty of picnic benches and places to sit and chill while the kids play. There was so much to play on. My son had a great time. He especially loved the zip wire and must have gone on it at least 30 times. His other favourite was a pirate ship on a sandpit. There’s plenty to swing on, climb on and slide down. With things for young and old to play on.

The Playground at Mother Shipton's cave
The Playground at Mother Shipton’s cave
He loved the zip wire - it was the perfect height for him to get on
He loved the zip wire – it was the perfect height for him to get on
The Pirate ship on a large sand pit
The Pirate ship on a large sand pit
Mother Shipton's Cave Day Out in North Yorkshire

The Petrifying Well and the wishing well

A little way on from the playground you will walk down a series of steps towards the Petrifying well. This is such a picturesque spot and so fascinating. The water that comes over the rock falls down to a clear pond below.

There are minerals in this waterfall which turn things to stone in just a matter of a few months. They have various objects hanging on the rock’s edge and these have all turned to stone. In just 3 months a soft teddy bear can turn to stone. The Petrifying well was first recorded by the king’s antiquary in 1538 and is Britain’s oldest tourist attraction.

The Petrifying well
The Petrifying well
Some of the petrified items
Some of the petrified items

Behind the petrifying well there is a small set of very wet steps that lead behind the rock and waterfall. In there you will find the wishing well. It is essentially a puddle of water about waist high in the rocks. It is an old tradition to dip your fingers in the water here and make a wish.

Dipping in the wishing well
Dipping in the wishing well

Mother Shipton’s Cave

Slightly on from the Petrifying well you will walk up a few steps to Mother Shipton’s cave. This is not a big long cave but more a ‘room’ within the rock side. I say a room because Mother Shipton lived here for the first few years of her life. She was an ugly baby and grew up to have witch like features such as a long pointy nose and chin.

She was once England’s most famous prophetess. They have signs telling her story plus an audio story next to her cave. There is even a statue of her within the cave. Mother Shipton foretold the fates of several rulers within and just after her lifetime, as well as the invention of iron ships, the Great Fire of London in 1666, and the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

Inside Mother Shipton's cave
Inside Mother Shipton’s cave

Museum and Gift Shop

If you head back to where you entered near to the Petrifying well and carry on down the path you will come to the other entrance for this attraction. Here there is a small museum and a gift shop where you can even buy some of the ‘magic water’ to take home with you. In the museum they have a few petrified items donated by famous people and a few other exhibits.

Inside Mother Shipton's cave
In the museum

Events at Mother Shipton’s Cave

If you are visiting as a family it is well worth visiting when they have one of their events on. These take place pretty much every school holiday. We visited during their Unicorn and Dinosaur event for May half-term. As events go it was excellent. They had a lady riding around on a ‘unicorn’. Plus a special trail for the kids and their prize at the end was a bag of rainbow drops. They had somewhere to dig for dinosaur bones, spot dinosaur footprints, crafts and more. They even had some dinosaurs and unicorns dotted around the park.

Photos from the May Half-term event at Mother Shipton's cave
Photos from the May Half-term event at Mother Shipton’s cave
Mother Shipton's Cave Day Out in North Yorkshire

If you have time after your visit to Mother Shipton’s cave why not cross the river over by the main entrance and head on down to the water’s edge to hire a rowing boat. Or walk up the opposite hill to visit Knaresborough castle. I have never seen such an eclectic mix of houses before. Knaresborough is very unique and very picturesque. We ate at the Mother Shipton’s inn which is at the opposite end to the main entrance. I was kicking myself that we didn’t take a picnic though as it was such a lovely day and the playground is a perfect spot for a picnic.

Outside Mother Shipton's Inn
Outside Mother Shipton’s Inn

Important Information

Their prices do increase slightly when they have a special event on. For regular admission, it costs £8.00 by booking online for an adult. You save £1 by booking an adult ticket online. Children aged 3-15 are £7.00. Children under 3 are free and they also have other rates such as a family ticket. Tickets purchased online must be purchased in advance. From early April until early October they are open every day. Opening times and dates do change so please check before you leave home. In March they are open weekends only and they are shut over the winter.

UK Family Days Out

Disclaimer: We were invited to review Mother Shipton’s Cave. We were provided with complimentary tickets for the purpose of my review. All photos and opinions are entirely my own and must not be duplicated without my permission.

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Mother Shipton's Cave Day Out in North Yorkshire

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