The main Pate Hole cave was surveyed in 1960 by Phil Davies and Jack Whaddon. Later explorations have shown that the cave runs approximately 30m below the surface, for approximately 1000m.
The cave extends 400m before reaching a chamber with a pool of around 20m in length. The direction of the cave then changes and continues for 200m more.
The full extent of the cave complex is not known as a number of the cross rifts have proven too small for human explorers to enter. Approximately 30m from the main shaft to the surface is a deep sump, notable for its unusually clear water and estimated at approximately 40m deep.
The source of the water in the sump is not known, but it is speculated to originate in limestone of the nearby Great Asby Ridge. In times of flood or heavy rainfall the cave fills with water which emerges from the main entrance as a spring; however, this is not common.