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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.
Please follow the latest government guidelines if travelling by public transport.Government Guidelines