Marble Arch Caves
This is one mighty under-sung beauty spot of Ireland. Yeah, other countries might have bigger and better caves , but though they be but little they are fierce! The Marble Arch Caves are one of the finest showcaves in Europe and part of a bigger global geopark. In 2015 they celebrated 30 years of business and were granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status, which has since allowed them to expand and develop more of their sites and visitor amenities.
The caves are located in County Fermanagh and I would highly recommend pre-booking and doing some research into transport if you haven’t got a car. The site is closed from December to February each year and has shorter visiting hours in October.
Pre-booking tickets is highly advisable, especially if you are part of a large group, you can buy them on the day for around £10 an adult, but you could end up waiting a few hours or not getting in at all. But don’t worry, if you have to kill some time before you can delve underground with your tour, there are 18000 hectares and 40 other sites of interest in the geopark, plenty to keep you busy for sure!
The tour of the caves is brilliant, I myself have done it quite a few times, and every single tour was magical. Seriously.
The tour involves a lot of steps that lead you through a forest, down further underground through a rock face and behind you, through the leafy green canopy, is the last daylight you see. Well, for the next 75 minutes anyway. I won’t spoil it for you but there is atmospheric lighting, tight squeezes, a boat ride and lots of learning ahead.
The guides are all top notch, extremely friendly and relaxed there is always a light hearted tone, (which is exactly what you want when you’re in a claustrophobic environment) and ready to answer all your questions. The caves are suitable for all age groups, but are not wheelchair or pram accessible, and require a moderate level of fitness, as there are quite a few steps.
Be mindful if you are going that this is a CAVE. You might not believe it, but every time I’ve been to the caves I’ve witnessed people looking surprised that it’s cold in there as they stand without coats, or that it’s too slippery in their sandals, so dress appropriately, people.
If you are looking for something out of the ordinary to do, or a bit less run of the mill, the caves are a good shout. They’re a brilliant day out for all ages and you could spend days up in the geopark seeing all the sites and forest and nature things!
*Photos courtesy of Failte Ireland and the Marble Arch Caves.