The caverns at Stump Cross are located beneath Greenhow hill, 1,275 feet (389 m) above sea level. Their name was taken from Stump Cross, which in ancient times marked the limit of Knaresborough Forest. The area above the caves consists largely of moorland, the nearest towns being Pateley Bridge and Grassington. One mile of the caves have been open to the public for many years, although the entire system is much more extensive than the show caves, extending more than 4 miles (6 km). It has not yet been fully explored.
The system is located in a region of limestone extending from Wharfedale to Greenhow and the Craven Fault. Lead has been mined in the region since the era of the Roman empire.