Mad Allen’s Cave.

Out of the many interesting places I have attempted to locate this surely ranks as one of the most difficult, and for that reason I will give you the directions of how to find it before I give any details regarding the cave itself. The cave is located by the village of Bickerton and is close to the edge of the county of Cheshire, you can find the village by following the A 534 road from Nantwich, about 15 miles before you reach the town of Wrexham you will see the sign post for Bickerton. Follow this road and after about a quarter of a mile you will see Bickerton Village Hall, turn right here onto reading room lane, follow this lane for about a quarter of a mile and you will see a public footpath on your left which is quite overgrown. Follow this footpath for a couple of hundred yards up onto Bickerton hill and you will enter a wood, turn to your left and follow the path for 200-300yards until you come to a Sycamore tree which has lost one of its main branches.

Turn right when you reach this tree and start climbing up the hill, it will take you through a sandy rabbit warren and then the going gets tough, you will be climbing up through bracken and trees, however after a short while you will come to a sandstone cliff and it is here that you will find the cave. I struggled for over an hour looking for it as there are no sign posts and no worn paths leading to it.

Mad Allen’s Cave or Mad Allen’s Hole as it is known locally was once the home of a John Harris according to a pamphlet that has been discovered. According to this document he was born on July 20th 1710 in the town of Handley and it states that when his Father died he inherited estates in Tattenhall, Broxton and Handley. Although a wealthy man he turned his back on the lifestyle he could afford because his parents had forbidden him to marry the woman that he loved, a girl from Handley named Ann Egerton. Because of this he decided to never marry and to become a recluse and this is how he ended up living in a cave. Initially he took up residence in a cave in nearby Carden Park estate, however there is evidence to support the fact that he left this cave in 1760 and took up residence in Allenscomb Cave here on Bickerton hill which later became known as Mad Allen’s Cave.

John Harris seemed to have the ability to blend in with his surroundings as he remained hidden for many years and was not discovered until 1809. It is said that four young men were gathering firewood for bonfire night on the 5th of November in 1809 when they encountered what they described as a wild hairy man, they fled to the nearby village of Harthill where they recounted their story stating that they had seen this wild man entereing the rock face. The young men returned with others to the spot where they had seen John Harris enter the rock face and found him sitting next to a fire, after their initial shock at finding Harris who was now 99 years old he proceeded to tell them his life story and how he had ended up living in the cave.

The cave appears to have two levels, the photograph on the left shows a sandstone platform which separates the cave and gives it an upper and lower living area. The sides of the cave are quite smooth and it is assumed that John Harris must have accessed the lower cave using some sort of ladder, I didn’t risk entering the cave myself in case I couldn’t climb out again. At some time in the past there would have been a large overhang of sandstone outside the cave entrance, however over the years this has collapsed and now partially blocks the entrance to the cave as can be seen in the photograph above.

So if your feeling energetic and if we ever get a sunny day again, why not follow in my footsteps and re-discover a piece of prime Cheshire real estate and pay a visit to Mad Allen’s cave!


13 Responses to “Mad Allen’s Cave.”

  1. I visited mad allen’s cave this afternoon after reading your story here. There is no mention of the smaller cave that is very nearby – just to the left of mad allen’s cave. It is more of a small indentation in the rocks than a cave, but what makes it interesting is there are three skulls (or heads) carved into the rockface. Did you see this, or do you know anything about them?

    • Hi John,
      I’m glad you were able to visit Mad Allen’s cave, I know its a bit of a climb but its worth the effort. Did you follow my directions, and were they accurate? I did not see the other cave or the carved skulls. Next time I go there I will have to take some more photos.
      Regards Gary

  2. My apologies: the other cave is just to the RIGHT as you face the cave. Not Left.

  3. Hi Gary. Yes, I followed your directions & found them pretty accurate. When I found the (huge) tree with the broken branch I backtracked about 100 yards & found a rough path leading up the hill, through the rabbit warren & through the trees that more or less took me up to the caves.

    I do have some photos of the carved skulls/faces. Is there a way to post them here?


  4. This is the cave directly to the right of Mad Allen’s Hole. Just follow the path around. I can’t find anything about this on the internet, or how old they are.

  5. I have always accessed Mad Allen’s Hole from the top… I travel from the Broxton roundabout along the A534 and turn right onto Long Lane. About maybe 1/4 mile there is a church on the right. I park next to the church and walk up the path for maybe 10mins. I hate vague walking directions! but eventually on the left there is an open face of sandstone. Mad Allen’s Hole is down the steep hill on the right. A path has just about formed.

    I found this page whilst trying to locate Mad Allen’s first hole! Not the earlier John Harris one on Carden Park but “Allen’s” first hole. Somewhere below Rawhead.

    If you like caves and sandstone Queen’s Parlour is the best. It must be 30metres deep and 20 metres wide. It consists of three rooms… each big enough to hold a party for 40-50 people!

    Instead of turning right onto long lane turn left, travel down this road for 3/4 mile and take the first right down a very narrow muddy grassy lane (before the T junction) Shortly you reach the end. Turn right and up the steep hill until the road ends. Park in the lay-by. There is a very pronounced path up to Rawhead but as soon as you start on the path there is a smaller path up the very steep hill. Queen’s Parlour is at the top.

    There is Bloody Bones cave somewhere in this area too.
    Here is a couple of pics my mate took.

    • Hi Rik,
      Thanks for the information and directions. I will probably go in search of the Queens Parlour and Bloody Bones cave when we get some decent weather.
      Regards Gary

    • Found Queen’s Parlour using these directions. I’d gone in search in the morning but approached from the other end (Parking up on Wrexham Road, the small lane to the left of the A534 as you head towards the Coppermine Lane) and discovered what turned out to be Bloody Bones cave (it too had 3 sort of chambers but very small and I’d seen pictures and it looked bigger)

      I’ve since put the locations of the 3 caves that I know of so far on a map to give people a better idea:

      Hope it helps someone and thanks for the directions Rik


  7. i believe the bloody bones cave is the one directly underneath the trigpoint at raw head. its literally right underneath the highest point on the hill. ive never been able to find the queens parlor though…

  8. Went to both Queens Parlour and Bloody Bones cave today. Both are very easy to find. Bloody Bones cave is clearly visible from the Rawhead Trig Point. Queens Parlour is also visible from the start of the public footpath where the P is, exactly as Brettus marked on google (note that the link needs cutting and pasting in its entirety, not clicking on as its broken in the middle).

    If anyone has any history on either then please post!

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