The mysterious caves full of witches and dwarves just five miles from Ashton
A few miles from Ashton-in-Makerfield lies an underworld said to be inhabited by dwarves and witches. Additionally, the Crank Caverns have experienced many other paranormal activities.
The abandoned quarry, near Rainford in St Helens, has long attracted visitors from all over. But are the folk tales of an army of bearded dwarves living deep underground true?
To find out, the Echo of Liverpool set out to explore the caverns to see if there was any substance to these legends – or if we could figure out why the rumors started.
Initially, it was even difficult to locate the caverns, with a gate closing off the private path leading towards them. After walking a short way down a country lane we came across a large house and then at the back of the property the entrance to the caves – heavily graffitied – stood out in the desert.
Approaching the entrance to the caverns, one understands why some of these legends and myths began. The depth of the caves means you can’t see more than five feet ahead of you in the dark, giving your imagination free rein.
The site, formerly Rainford Delph Quarry, has been disused for many years and is believed to have been used as a game reserve and also as an ammunition store during World War II. Now officially closed to the public, the caves are still accessible from a nearby walking path.
As we ventured a bit further, beyond the entrance, every sound from inside seemed to be greatly amplified, leaving us nervous – I certainly wouldn’t recommend exploring Crank Caverns alone. A popular legend around the caves tells of little boys being chased by dwarfs. In the 1930s, a group of reporters came down to find the dwarves.
Lewis Atherton, from the folk podcast Exploring History UK, said: ‘There’s a story from the 1970s about three children, they were teenagers who went through ‘the mouse’ and it’s described in the newspaper that the mouse hole went in a circle and that’s all that’s left.
“But they went down there with candles, I don’t think they had matches and if they did, they only had two or three matches and the cave mountain and the help had to get them out.”
Another myth surrounding Crank Caverns is that there might be a cathedral at the bottom of the caves, but through research Lewis, along with Claire Rigby of Momo’s Cafe, believe that is not the case. In the podcast, Lewis said: “In a world of caving, a cathedral would be the opening of a cave, of a mine. The best way to describe a cathedral in a mine is how it is described at this day – a large wide opening with large rooms and large walls.
Claire said: “If you were studying caving at university, a cathedral would be classed as the largest cave in a series of caves and caverns, and the largest cave would normally have some kind of slab and that would be where a lot of minors would just sit down and rest and drink and things like that.”