The two new caves are Hazel Close Cave, which is around 120 metres in length and only accessible by using a ladder and features a walking passage for 37 metres.
Oxbow Cave is the second new cave which is situated on the north side of How Stean Gorge and is 25 metres long.
A major undertaking has taken place at the visitor attraction where new eco-friendly luxury chalets with hot tubs and wood burning stoves have been installed.
Carved out over thousands of years by waterflow, the 80-ft-deep chasm has an underground cave system. It’s most famous is the Tom Taylor’s Cave, named after the highwayman, which is 180 metres long and is 15 metres deep.
One of Britain’s most famous robbers, Taylor, used the cave as a getaway route and hiding place for his stolen goods with Dick Turpin. In 1741 Tom Taylor was followed by the British Army from York to his underground hideout and, following a gunfight, was shot dead in the gorge.
The caves are said to have been home to the Vikings from 866 to 1066. In 1868, a trove of Roman coins was found buried in the cave; a 300-foot tunnel, which can be explored today with hard-hats.
Anna Bowman, curator at Nidderdale Museum, said: “Archaeologists believe that the Romans used caves or rivers as places to leave religious offerings. Given the time period which the coins found covers and that the coins were discovered in the cave hammered into the wall it would indicate that these were possibly an offering.
“Nidderdale Museum’s collection includes part of the horde. It was donated by the Metcalfe family, who owned How Stean Gorge at the time of the discovery, in 1868.”
Other caves at the venue include Elgin’s Hole and Canal Cave. The gorge has grown in popularity with visitors from far and wide. It has a team of outdoor adventure experts offering rock climbing, canoeing, abseiling, caving, gorge scrambling and a series of high wire and zip wires above the gorge.
Tony Liddy, director of How Stean Gorge, said: “We’ve transformed the site with our ambitious expansion plans to cater to the huge demand for adventure tourism. Acquiring the caves is an important part of that, as we want to showcase nature’s stunning playground in this unique gorge that has existed for 10 thousand years, since the last Ice Age.”
“It’s been incredible, there’s just a massive appetite out there to get into the great outdoors and experience adventure on our doorstep. We want to showcase the caves a bit more, and display previously unseen historic surveys and maps of the 10km cave network.”
Additional upgrades to the site include a 1,000-litre hot water system with underfloor heating in its shower block and new kitchen facilities. The team has also installed a new shower, toilet and bunks in its Bunk House based at Scar House Reservoir, a unique wild accommodation offer that sleeps up to 17.