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Caves in Peat?

ChrisJC

Well-known member
All,
I was walking in the far north, between Kildonan and the headwaters of the River Thurso. We covered a large distance over featureless peat bog.

However, there were what looked like some sinkholes in the peat, and a few of them had actual cave passage in the peat! I didn't pursue them as I didn't want to get wet grovelling around in the wet gravel.

As far as I can see, there is no limestone.

It looks like the water has eroded a number of passages at the base of the peat, which can take quite a flow of water.

Is this known about?

Chris.
 

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langcliffe

Well-known member
I've seen them on Ingleborough, and elsewhere in the Dales. We actually went through one once (we were wearing wetsuits at the time) and got absolutely filthy.
 
We called them peat pipes when I was working for Moors for the Future. They played havoc with damming efforts as they formed relatively unpredictably and could completely negate a dam. There was a PhD student working on their formation when I was there - here's the summary info:

https://www.moorsforthefuture.org.u...earch-and-monitoring/investigating-peat-pipes

I always thought their formation seemed relatively comparable to caves but can't say I'm an expert. I often thought about crawling into some of the larger ones but I was generally already wet through and supposed to be working so it didn't appeal overmuch
 
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mudman

Member
Are peat stalactites a thing? Could peat caves become a tourist attraction? :)
Siambri Ddu near Draenen has a number of formations that are formed from mud and peat from the surface above. Quite colourful as well. Check out Chunky's recent photos that show them.
 

Andy Farrant

Active member
Peat pipes are relatvely common, and occur in most upland peat bogs, although few get large enough to crawl into (and thus can be defined as caves). Some are quite long, over 100 m. I remember seeing some in Connemara. Joseph Holden at Leeds Uni has done quite a bit of work on them. https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/geography/staff/1049/professor-joseph-holden. See for example https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2004JF000143. If bog snorkelling can be a thing, why not peat caving?
 

tomferry

Active member
Can see potential for people getting buried or intoxicated by gas ! Looks a new extreme caving I would call it
 

Roger W

Well-known member
Can see potential for people getting buried or intoxicated by gas ! Looks a new extreme caving I would call it
Ah, but if you do get buried you stand a good chance of being preserved by the peat acids to be found by peat diggers thousands of years hence. The archaeologists then will have a wonderful time explaining what had happened to you - undoubtedly some form of human sacrifice!
 

ChrisJC

Well-known member
Peat pipes are relatvely common, and occur in most upland peat bogs, although few get large enough to crawl into (and thus can be defined as caves). Some are quite long, over 100 m. I remember seeing some in Connemara. Joseph Holden at Leeds Uni has done quite a bit of work on them. https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/geography/staff/1049/professor-joseph-holden. See for example https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2004JF000143. If bog snorkelling can be a thing, why not peat caving?
Amazing!, fascinating stuff. So not at all unusual at all. I thought I had made quite a discovery!!

Chris.
 

2xw

Active member
I highly, highly recommend nobody goes into peat pipes no matter their size. Whilst there is the illusion of stability the rooting zone of the veg above is predominantly concentrated in the top 10-15cm especially underneath the ericaceous veg where these pipes are likely to form. The substrate that forms the pipes can barely be considered stable and the weight of the peat above them can be considerable!
I'd avoid Holden's publication factory for similar reasons 😂
 
There was what appeared to be a peat pipe/swalllet in the valley below Crag Lough when I last visited 40+ years ago. I was restrained from entering by my mother who liked her car to be clean. Probably a sensible decision...
 

mrodoc

Well-known member
I believe they are called slutch caves and I seem to remember a piece in Caves and Caving or Descent years ago.
 

AlanClark

New member
Are peat stalactites a thing? Could peat caves become a tourist attraction? :)
Not quite a tourist attraction, years ago a friend ended up in one, one moment he was walking behind me then he was gone with only arms sticking out of a hole in the ground with him stood on the firmer layer beneath.
 
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