I’m ashamed to say that since moving up here in 2018, this is actually the first time I’ve been to Mother Shipton’s Cave. The same can be said for Knaresborough as a whole, I’ve seen pictures of the boats under the viaduct and the beautiful surrounding houses, but actually going there as a tourist has always been on the back burner.
Mother Shipton’s cave has ensured that this is no longer the case, as we arrived for their Hocus Pocus Halloween themed event at the start of the holidays.
I wasn’t prepared for two things, firstly the beauty of the environment around the cave itself – I hadn’t realised that Mother Shipton’s cave had so much surrounding country park – it was absolutely stunning on this beautiful, sunny Autumn day. Secondly, I hadn’t realised we could bring the dog. We had left our faithful hound Hetty at home, and I’ll know to bring her next time as there was so much for her to see and sniff on the walk through the woods to the caves – it’s very dog friendly (on leads only).
Be prepared for a good stroll, and wellies too as it is a little muddy underfoot. We got away with trainers, but I can imagine with a little rain it could get a bit boggy. Lots of people with buggies, so no problems there, and a buggy park at the far end too.
As you enter through the gates, be sure to stop in the parking spaces to use the loos, these are the only ‘proper’ ones in the attraction, with portaloos further on down.
Hop back in the car and drive down to the car park. From there it is a good stroll to the start of the attraction, and where our hocus Pocus fun was happening.
The decorations for Halloween/Autumn are absolutely beautiful, so many scenes set up! Lots of selfie stages and Insta-worthy opportunities staggered along the setting, so there was no real need to queue for anything.
In three huts we met three different witches, all with their own quirks and fun interactions with the children – slightly spooky but not too scary, and vaguely themed around Hocus Pocus. Not so much that it matters though, so don’t worry if you haven’t seen the film
There’s a fabulous funny wizard, some witches hats, wizard cloaks and brooms to dress up with and lots of places to have a quick sit down and a cuppa or an ice cream from the food vans. I had the deluxe hot chocolate, which, while expensive at £3.90, came with cream, marshmallows and a flake and was absolutely delicious.
We moved on to the cave, petrifying well and wishing well, each of which was interesting, and there are some great speaker boxes that will tell you the story of each feature if you press the buttons. It really is a fascinating tale of a lady who was misunderstood, teased and then revered by the local population. Ursula (Mother Shipton) even hob-nobbed with Henry VIII apparently!
We had a quick potter in the museum which has lots of petrified items in it including a shoe from a Queen, along with the fortune teller automaton Zoltar (anyone remember Big?). There’s a lovely little gift shop too that contains things for all budgets. I got some Vampire Kiss incense cones for £1.95 and my daughter got a history book all about Mother Shipton’s life for £4.
We spent around 2 hours there, and I can imagine spending more time there in the summer, when the grass isn’t wet and the kids can play in the gorgeous wooden play area.
We will be back at Christmas I think (we got half way round and my son was already asking to come back again!) – I would definitely recommend going when there is an event on so that there’s plenty to do and see on top of the caves.