In the rolling Somerset Hills lies Cheddar Gorge, home of cheese. Vertical limestone cliffs rose up around us and then we were there, at the rather cheesy village of cheddar, full of gift shops and twee tea houses. Apparently it is true that cheddar cheese was first made here, and during the tour of Gough's cave, we saw some wheels of cheddar cheese maturing, and a cheesy aroma (mixed with bat) floated through the air...dubious mmm? We, meaning 3 teachers, 3 parents and 60 kids, were on an educational school trip for the school day. Whilst I, would have been happy at a cheese tasting - it was not to be. My first responsibility was to ward the children's safety through the bowels of the Gorge...ah but I learned a decent amount!
The cave we visited was discovered in 1890 by Mr Richard Gough who retired to Cheddar in 1881 - he was a sea captain, and thus an adventurous soul. A beardy Victorian gentleman, he had 7 children. Together with his 5 sons, he discovered and cleared the mud and boulders away, year after patient year, to reveal the caverns before us.
The cave walls were chill and smooth to the touch, and everywhere was dripping water. Formed by the ice-melt of million year old glaciers it was the old riverbed, and an underground river still ran beneath us. There were some beautiful formations in the cave - my phone camera cannot do justice to them - though not bad for phone-cam!
A calcite "waterfall" - an airpocket in the earth caused the water to form in pools, and as the water evaporated and the level went down, formed each level of the "falls".
My favourite formation - King Soloman's Temple (yes, Mr Gough was a grand old Victorian wasn't he!) - I was really impressed! All this knowledge made up for the ear-splitting volume of the trip, despite behaving well. Needed a good lie-down in silence after, and probably some lavender water in the victorian theme!