Ambient temperature of British caves



What is the ambient temperature in British caves? If I recall it is around 11C. Is there a difference between north and south? The reason I ask this is because I am caving in Indiana, USA at the moment and the ambient temperature is 54F, so ~12C, but British caves feel much colder from what I remember.


Active member
I always said 10 degrees without knowing where I discovered that fact.

Perhaps ten and twelve is the difference in Winter and Summer if you add in cave mouths to the average? Or is that what ambient means and it isn't just a music style.

Ian B.


When I worked as a guide at treak Cliff - we always told the punters it was 11degC (or 52 fahrenheit), but thats just what we where told to say by the guides that worked there before. I certainly never saw a thermometer down there.


New member
I recall being told (how's that for an imprecise reference) that the cave temperature was the annual average surface temperature of the entrance - and in UK that was 6-8 degrees depending on where you were. As for how this fits into multi entrance caves  - I guess it starts to get a bit more complicated.


cap n chris

Well-known member
Clever 'n' lovely Gina is a cave weather scientistical and she'll be able to confirm or deny any rumours about temperatures; mostly they're around (IIRC) 11-12C in the UK if dry (i.e. non-stream systems) and without strong winds blowing through!


New member
Not a cave, I know. But I once took a thermometer into Box. I got readings between 12 and 13 degrees centigrade.

Peter Burgess

New member
We used to have a thermometer in the Barons' Cave in Reigate but someone nicked it. I can't imagine what they wanted it for. Its dial was calibrated from 0 to 300 deg.C ! It always showed the same temperature summer or winter, about 10 I think. But it was so imprecise, I'm sure there was a margin of error of + or - 5 degrees! So I'm not really sure why I'm telling you this. All I know is that the place we used to keep it is consistently cool, unlike the higher section of the cave where a through draught can make it quite warm in the summer.


New member
I undertook a temperature study for the whole of July 2004 in Shatter Cave, Mendips (simple, linear(ish) dry cave, one entrance supposedly) and Uamh an Tartair, Assynt (complex, many entrances and with a stream).  The results were as follows...

Shatter Cave:
Entrance Chamber  Mean T = 9.84 ?C    Max T = 10.38 ?C  Min T = 9.58 ?C
Mid Section          Mean T = 10.47 ?C  Max T = 11.46 ?C  Min T 10.11 ?C
Pillar Chamber        Mean T = 10.38 ?C This was constant for the duration of the entire study, hence max and min T = 10.38 ?C

Uamh an Tartair:
Stream Chamber  Mean T = 9.31 ?C    Max T = 9.60 ?C  Min T = 9.30 ?C
Inner Circuit        Mean T = 8.56 ?C    Max T = 9.80 ?C  Min T = 8.30 ?C
Dry Section          Mean T = 8.89 ?C    Max T = 9.80 ?C    Min T = 8.80 ?C

As you can see, mean temperatures are very slightly colder in Scotland however this cave does have many additional factors affecting the temperature.  The stream for one is highly likely to be a regulator of temperature.

One day I'll get round to finishing this off as a paper.



New member
There are currently some temperature loggers in Gough's cave. The one located in Sand Chamber in the Adventure cave recorded a temperature of 12.8c max and 12.3 min and the one located in the show cave recorded slightly higher, I've not got the read out in front of me so can't give a figure. o_O Obviously there are a number of effecting factor one being the artificial heating of the system by lights and customers.

I do have results I can't explain, for instance on two of the days the temperature dropped to 12.3c exactly at midnight but then climbed back to 12.6c, showing some type of natural cooling down and warming up cycle?? Maybe

Anyway Gina if you finish the paper, I would quite like to have a look at it.



Well-known member
I would expect relative humidity to affect the perception of temperature somewhat too.