Spooky tales to boost Yorkshire ancient cave attraction as people power saves it from closure

An ancient cave threatened with closure as a tourist attraction has been saved by the might of the people as crowdfunders top £50,000.

Stump Cross Cavern near Pateley Bridge, a network of limestone caves formed half-a-million years ago, had faced a desperate future after it was refused all recovery grants.

A spooky tales event is to be held this week with a 12-hour 'narrathon' in hopes of raising case to keep the business going through coming weeks.

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Now, three weeks after the family owners shared their plight by putting up their own luxury campervan in a prize draw, they have reached a milestone for the business to survive.

Lisa Bowerman, owner of Stumps Cross Caverns, with her partner Nick Markham, celebrating the news. Image: James Hardisty

"We are just absolutely overwhelmed," said co-owner Lisa Bowerman yesterday as a target for £50,000 drew close. "This has saved the caves for future generations.

"It would have been such a loss. To the area, to the local economy, but also to people from all over Europe and the world who come, we have had so many messages.

"Because it was so important to people, the caves have been saved. They saw the importance of it. It's the power of the people that has saved us."

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Celebrations at Stump Cross Caverns after over three weeks of worry over the future of the business as a crowdfunding appeal saves the caves. Pictured Lisa Bowerman, owner of Stumps Cross Caverns, with her partner Nick Markham, celebrating the news. Image: James Hardisty

Stump Cross, discovered by miners in 1860, is a site of Special Scientific Interest and a hugely popular attraction which has seen its visitor numbers fall 75 per cent this past year.

Community backing has seen cheques posted through their letterbox over recent days, pledges of raffle prizes from local businesses as a secondary fundraiser.

One customer David Auld, a storyteller known for his podcast series NoSleep and Shadows at the Door, is this week to host an equinox storytelling night.

From 6pm on Friday he will livestream 12-hours of ghost stories and other tales, calling on people to sponsor ideas or stories to share from beside the fire.

Storyteller David Ault will deliver spooky ghost stories and more from Stump Cross Caverns on Friday night in a sponsored 12-hour narrathon to boost funds further. Image: James Hardisty.

There are many local legends to be told, said Ms Bowerman, recounting one tale of a ghost soldier seen marching at dusk, and dogs roaming over Tollers Gill.

"We have ghosts in the cave, we have ghosts in the kitchen, I'm sure they wil lcome out to rumble at some point," she said.

The equinox sponsored storytelling night, Stumpy Stories, will be held from 6pm on Friday, raising money through donations and pledges.

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Storyteller David Ault will deliver spooky ghost stories and more from Stump Cross Caverns on Friday night in a sponsored 12-hour narrathon to boost funds further. Here, Nick Markham, researches colorful trails appearing in caves ahead of the event. Image: James Hardisty

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