Mother Shipton's Cave | Kidadl

Mother Shipton's Cave is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read our Terms & Conditions for further information.

  • Mother Shipton's Cave is one of England's most ancient tourist attractions, located in Knaresborough.
  • The legendary rock formations and Petrifying Well are said to hold the power of turning everyday objects into stone.
  • This magical North Yorkshire site is known as the birthplace of the prophetess Mother Shipton, who died in 1561.
  • Mother Shipton's Park is also home to a wishing well, adventure playground and a museum showcasing items that have been petrified by the well's waters over the years.

Nestled in the enchanted woodland of Mother Shipton's Park are a group of natural rock formations that have been mesmerising visitors since the 1630s.

These ancient caves tucked beneath the North Yorkshire market town of Knaresborough are the birthplace of England's most famous prophetess, Mother Shipton. Born here in the woods in 1488 as Ursula Sontheil, Mother Shipton's prophecies later went on to foretell the 1666 Great Fire of London, the invention of the iron ship as well as the fates of many English rulers. For many years the waters of the Knaresborough cave were thought to have healing powers, and its Petrifying Well can still today turn everyday objects into stone. With millions of visitors coming to marvel at this phenomenon since the 1630s, the Petrifying Well has become one of England's oldest tourist attractions, and a trip to Mother Shipton's Cave will let you see its magic powers for yourself. The waters of the well - which is known for having the bewildering appearance of a giant's skull - have the ability to petrify objects much more quickly than other minerals, with items such as small teddy bears taking 3 to 5 months to be frozen in stone. During an exploration of the mystical Mother Shipton's Cave, you can spot the stone teddy bears petrified in the well and even take one home with you, as well as learning the legendary history of Mother Shipton herself.

As you head down the enchanting steps of Mother Shipton's Park into the rugged caves and trickling rock formations, you can uncover the stories of England's infamous prophetess and the magic of this land. Visitors can make a wish in the 300-year-old wishing well and discover the curious artefacts of the park's museum. Here items that have been petrified by the well over the years are on display, along with many donated by celebrities and even a shoe left by Her Majesty Queen Mary herself in 1923 when she visited Prophecy Lodge in person. The cave's museum also features a life-size model of Mother Shipton, so that you can meet the magical prophetess face to face. During your visit to Mother Shipton's Cave, make sure you stop off at the wonderful new adventure playground, perfect for kids of all ages, and grab a delicious treat from the kitsch food and drink truck on-site. Alternatively, you can bring a picnic with you to enjoy on the idyllic seating areas dotted amongst this natural scenic space. No day out at the caves would be complete without a trip to the charming gift shop on-site too, where you can take home a magical bottle of wishing well water or even a petrified teddy bear straight from the enchanted waters!

Situated around the picturesque River Nidd, the quaint market town of Knaresborough is a delightful place to explore as a family and a visit to Mother Shipton's Cave is a mythical must-see whilst you're there. If you want to uncover even more mesmerising history in the region of North Yorkshire, you can head to the tranquil oasis of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, a renowned World Heritage and National Trust site, or discover more ancient English legacies at the stunning York Minster.

What to know before you go

  • Mother Shipton's Cave is owned by Adrian Sayers, and is open from 10am to 4.30pm on weekdays, and 9.30am to 5.30pm on weekends. Last admission is 3pm every day.
  • Mother Shipton's Cave prices are per car for up to five people, or there is pedestrian admission for those arriving on foot. Children under the age of three can enter for free.
  • Dogs are welcome in all areas of the Shipton's Cave as long as they are kept on a lead, other than in the adventure playground.
  • The Mother Shipton's Cave and Petrifying Well are situated in the middle of a woodland park and can only be accessed via three sets of 25 steps, some of which are shallow but do have a handrail. There are rest areas throughout, but the caves are unfortunately still not suitable for wheelchair users or those with impaired mobility. Buggies must be parked in the shelter at the bottom of the steps.
  • There is an adorable food and drink cart on site serving hot and cold drinks, ice creams, cakes and sandwiches, as well as plenty of picnic benches on-site. Nearby you can also find The Ugly Duckling Tearoom, The Worlds End pub, The Mitre Inn and more.
  • Also located in the Mother Shipton's Park is a great new adventure playground and museum space, featuring historical items and a figure of the prophetess.
  • The Old Mother Shipton Cave also has a magical gift shop on-site selling trinkets, toys, books and souvenirs.
  • Regular Mother Shipton's Cave events include seasonal Halloween experiences and a Christmas Santa's Grotto.

Getting there

  • Mother Shipton's Cave is located in Prophecy Lodge, High Bridge Knaresborough, in the English county of North Yorkshire.
  • If you are driving to the venue, Mother Shipton's Cave is situated just off of the A59, and there is a car park on-site. Please note that there are no Blue Badge parking spaces here.
  • Knaresborough train station is a five-minute walk to the venue entrance. The town is a one-hour train ride from Leeds or less than three hours via train from London.
  • There are bus stops just outside the cave entrance on Harrogate Road, which serves the routes 1, 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D and X1.

More amazing things to do