This was a cracking place to visit and well worth the hike uphill from Torquay harbour. We arrived just in time for the last tour (4.00pm) and had a thoroughly good time. There were only 4 of us in the group (including little Dafydd) and our tour guide was both knowledgeable and entertaining. It is an easy walk through the caves and it reminded me a lot of Dan Y Ogof caves in Wales (although smaller). The guided tour lasted about 45 minutes.
It cost £9 for adults and £8 for children – a bit pricy to be honest.
The very good guidebook gives lots of information about the prehistoric finds from the caves.
There are some glass cabinets with finds to view including some knapped flint / pottery.
A gift shop and eating areas (inside and out) are also available.
A singular cavern, called Kent's-Hole, is considered as the greatest curiosity in this part of the county. It is about a mile distant from Torquay. Two women, whose usual business it is, conducted us to the spot, provided with candles, tinder-boxes, and other necessaries for the expedition.
After pursuing rather an intricate track, we arrived at the mouth of the cavern, and soon saw there was some occasion for the assistance of guides, who presented each of us with a candle stuck in a piece of slitted stick. The aperture was just large enough to admit us. As we advanced, our guides fixed candles on the sides of the cavern, in order to give us as much light as possible, and to provide against the consequences of an extinction of those we held in our hands.
The chill we received after having entered is inconceivable, and our clothes were moistened, (as it happens in the Peak) by the continual dropping of water from the roof. The lights, when viewed at a distance, gleaming through the gloomy vaults, and reflected by the pendant crystals, had a most singular effect.
We began to fancy ourselves in the abode of some magician, or (as our companions were two ancient females, and not the most comely of their years) in the clutches of some mischievous old witches, the representation of whose habitations in Shakespere's Macbeth we could for once persuade ourselves had its foundation in nature.
Kent's-hole is in no part more than twenty feet high, but the bottom of it is very irregular, being sometimes on an ascent, and sometimes on a descent, and the moisture of the stone on which we trod rendered both not a little difficult and dangerous. -- The roof is in some places so low that we were obliged to advance on our knees. -- At length we reached the extremity of the cavern, which is full two hundred yards long, and, though it sometimes winds, seems to run for the most part in a southern direction. As no great elevation of ground appears on the outside, the declivity of it must be considerable.
An eighteenth century visit, from volume 1 of William Maton's "Observations relative chiefly to the natural history, picturesque scenery, and antiquities of the western counties of England, made in the years 1794 and 1796." It sounds slightly less commercialised than today, as you can now opt to get married there or go on the "ghost tour". Hmm. They do advise sensible footwear though, something Mr Maton should probably have considered.
Kents Cavern is one of the most important Palaeolithic caves in Northern Europe and the oldest recognisable human dwelling in Britain. Kent's Cavern is in Ilsham Rd, off Babbacombe Rd in Torquay. It was occupied during Palaeolithic times. Janet & Colin Bord's 1978 book, 'A Guide to Ancient Sites in Britain' says that finds can be seen in the Museum of Torquay Natural History Society in Babbacombe Rd but I'm not sure if that's out of date now.
It holds beautiful and spectacular geological formations and significant prehistoric finds, some over 700,000 years old.
The cavern has been visited by loads of celebs, including Beatrix Potter, Agatha Christie, King George V, and HIM Haile Selassie I. You can even hold birthday parties there and corporate cocktail receptions.....
Open all year, except Christmas Day; currently (2004) £6 for adults. Check out the web link below for more info.