The story of the caves began about 2 million years ago when water seeped through cracks in the rock and began to carve out chambers below. For 1.6 million years the Earth went through enormous changes including repeated ice ages that could last for up to 100,000 years. These periods were then followed by periods of warmer climate.
During the ice ages sea levels dropped by up to 120 meters meaning that England was effectively joined to Europe and where the channel now is there were once vast forests.The remains of these are now submerged beneath the sea but at low tides it is possible to glimpse fossilised remains of trees along the coast.
The actual ice sheet never reached Devon (it stopped somewhere near Somerset) but the area around Devon would have resembled a frozen Tundra. A consequence of the repeated Ice Ages was that there was free movement of beasts back and forth between England and Europe and these animals thrived in the warmer periods when vegetation and animal life was in abundance.
It is amazing to think that on the land upon which we now stand wild and exotic animals lived and hunted.