We had the opportunity to stop off at Cheddar Gorge for an afternoon. This is a really fascinating natural feature, and while we only made a flying visit, it offers a lot for a variety of interests.
The Gorge itself is said to have developed over a period of 300 million years. Geologists say that its foundations were laid down when the area was a tropical sea. Over time sediments like fish and bones and shell accumulated, and were eventually converted into layers of limestone. These layers were in time thrust upwards, and began to become weathered and exposed. During the Ice Age the limestone were temporarily frozen, but as the ice melted and all the water gushed into huge rivers and one carved out the gorge. The climate has continued to warm, and the rivers started to sink into and through the gorge where it flows today through narrow caves and cracks. This is what has given us the dry valley, Cheddar Gorge of today. (Well that is what Key Stage 3 Geography says, anyway).
Whatever the cause this natural landscape is sought after by tourists, climbers, cavers, and adrenaline junkies. The natural beauty makes for wonderful photo opportunities, and walkers and bird watchers enjoy its paths and upper walks. The steep walls of the gorge are challenges for climbers going up, and BASE jumpers coming down. The areas many caves provide not just a place to age the famous cheese, but for cavers and others to explore.
We visited a cave, and enjoyed the rugged beauty during our visit. But there is so much more to do. And cheese of course.