Tutman’s Hole feels incredibly remote, being about 3km from the nearest road or public footpath. The walk up Gildersdale is stunning, if a little tricky with multiple crossings of the river due to lack of footpath.
I have found the cave mentioned as early as 1818 in “The scientific tourist through England, Wales, & Scotland, Volume 2” which states “On Gildersdale fell is a cavity called Tutman–hole” and it was said to have been explored to about 1 mile by the mid-1800’s
I found references to the word “Tutmen” in connection with Cornish tin miners in the 1850s, so it seems likely to me that they may have named/explored it when the moved to this area to mine lead.
The cave was surveyed for YURT Journal 2 in 1969, then extended by DUSA in 1975 (which is recorded in MSG 8, both of these journals/surveys can be found on our website)
Much of the cave is a pleasant hands and knees crawl in fast flowing water, tide marks and scum at ceiling level suggest it would be a poor idea to visit on a rainy day. We were unable to pass the ducks on this occasion as the passage was completely sumped .
Before the first low section where you get properly wet, we noticed a large amount of graffiti, some dating back into the 1800s, although one that caught my eye was “Ellen Richardson, May 26 1921” It looks like it was written in pencil, but subsequent calcite now seals it into the walls.
A female explorer nearly 100 years ago without the benefit of neoprene was interesting, so some searches on Ancestry have turned up a 1901 census including an Ellen Richardson, a dressmaker living at Overwater, Nenthead. Her three brothers are all lead miners.
Looking at details in the book ‘Pennine Lead-Miner, Eric Richardson of Nenthead’, I believe that Ellen Richardson was his Aunt. On the 1911 census she is listed as ‘Ellen Kelly’ but already a widow at just 33, so it possible she reverted back to the family name later.
Why exactly she was in Tutmans hole in 1921, I guess we’ll never know, but perhaps the mining family were out prospecting as the Vielle Montagne Company were in big trouble back in Nenthead at that time.
This passing hint about Hobbrush/Hobthrush Hole/Hall appeared in Moldywarps Journal 7 in 1974.
The book it’s mentioned in is :- The Vale of Mowbray: a historical and topographical account of Thirsk and its neighbourhood by William Grainge, published in 1859
“Over Silton. In the precipitous cliffs, a short distance north-west of the village, called ‘the Scarrs,’ is a cave in the rock, known by the name of Hobthrush Hall, which was formerly the abode of a goblin of somewhat remarkable character, who appears by the stories yet current relating to him, to have been possessed of great agility, as he was in the habit of jumping from the hills above his dwelling to the top of Carlhow Hill, about half a mile distant. He was not of the malignant kind. . . . On the contrary he was one of those friendly to man. . . . The Silton goblin was a true and faithful servant to a person named Weighall, who kept the village inn, and rented the land on which his hall was situate. It was Hob’s invariable practice to churn the cream during the night, which was prepared for him the evening before, for which his reward was a large slice of bread and butter, always placed ready for him when the family retired to bed, and always gone in the morning. One night, the cream was put into the churn as usual, but no bread and butter placed beside it. Hob was so dis- gusted with this piece of base ingratitude, that he never came to churn more, and appears to have entirely left the neighbourhood. His dwelling yet remains, a rugged cave among the rocks, dark, wet, and uncomfortable, but extending a considerable distance underground.”
Today our own little Moldywarps Hobgoblin was dispatched to check the location and its still there 160 years after Grainge and 45 years after the last Moldywarp didn’t check !
An NYMCC member was recently able to purchase a number of vintage North Pennines caving slides . We believe we have been able to identify the majority as Fairy Holes in Weardale, but the identities of those pictured are still unknown.
We would love any names or additional locations