Owners of Stump Cross Caverns enter apartment into prize draw to pay for essential works

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Having raised funds to reopen in May, the owners of Stump Cross Caverns, an ancient tourist destination in the Yorkshire Dales, are now entering their own one-bedroomed apartment into a prize draw to pay for essential maintenance and repair work.

Stump Cross Caverns, a small family run business, open to the public since its discovery by lead miners in 1860, has been hit hard by lock down closures and social distancing restrictions as visitor numbers have dropped from 60,000 to just 15,000.

The cave’s owners, the Bowerman family, who live onsite, have launched a series of crowdfunding appeals to help them get through a challenging year, secure jobs and be in a position to open their doors again on 17 May.

The 1000 Cave Step challenge, which saw its owners walk the equivalent of climbing up and down the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world 44 times, and entering Stump Cross experiences along with their very own luxury VW campervan into prize draws, have all been part of their attempt to survive, having raised £70,000.

Now, their next crowdfunder, the biggest so far, hopes to further recover some of the losses they’ve made allowing them to carry out essential repairs costing more than £200,000.

Supporters can pledge as little as £10 to win the family-owned ground floor apartment, valued at nearly £130,000 and located in the heart of nearby Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale. The lucky winner will be mortgage free with no stamp duty or conveyancing fees to pay. Council tax payments will also be covered for the rest of the current tax year.

Lisa Bowerman, owner of the ancient limestone caves, formed over 500,000 years ago said:

Having to sell another of our personal possessions is heart breaking, but an unsuccessful bid for government funding and forced closures have seen ticket sales plummet, leaving us with losses of more than £500,000. We just haven’t had the income to cover maintenance and reinvest in the future of the caves.

It’s make or break for us right now and selling the apartment is the only way we can do essential repairs, including the renewal of the lighting system, and also ensure the caves are here for the benefit of others for many generations to come.

We’ve been overwhelmed by the support from the public and hope that they will be there to help us on our last push towards reopening. Pledging as little as £10 means one person could walk away with their very own property and contribute towards saving this ancient tourist attraction.

lisa bowerman and nick markham
Lisa Bowerman and Nick Markham

To help overcome the impact of the pandemic Stump Cross is also working closely with local business, Otley-based, Apollo3D, on providing virtual guided tours for schools.

Lisa said:

This is a really important step forward for us as we’ll be able to reach out to schools, who either can’t visit due to visitor number restrictions or are based too far away to explore in person.

Clever technology, developed by Apollo3D, means our team of experts will be able to take children on a live virtual 3D tour of the magnificent caves, including parts hidden away from everyday visitors, and answer any questions they may have – all from the comfort of their classroom. There’s also potential to tap into a global market and generate some much-needed extra income. It’s a very exciting development opportunity and we’re hopeful it will prove to be really popular with those unable to visit in person.

The crowdfunder will remain open until 20,000 tickets are sold. Once this total has been reached a date will be set for the live prize draw. If the £200,000 campaign target isn’t met refunds will be processed and the apartment withdrawn from the appeal. For more information and to purchase tickets visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/win-a-home-pateley-bridge Each participant will also receive a complementary virtual cave tour also created by Apollo3D.

Alongside this there’s still time for people to sign their ‘Save the Caves’ petition. Launched earlier this month, and so far signed by nearly 3,000 people, the petition has been created in response to a government funding setback and is an attempt to get the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to listen to their plea for help. To sign the petition visit https://www.change.org/p/rishi-sunak-save-the-caves-at-stump-cross-caverns-yorkshire-dales-for-future-generations


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