Thursday, 29 May 2014

Exeat: Wookey Hole

wookey hole wells mendip limestone cavesSame again, really. A day with nothing planned was turned into another long-distance investigation of terra incognita, and hopefully, to get some goodies at the gift shop.
Wookey Hole is apparently somewhat similar to Cheddar Gorge, a subterranean cave system in limestone rocks, touristified and with many add-on activities.
We set off early again because it set us in good stead for Dover Castle: this time we arrived 20 minutes early even though we overshot the access road due to overgrown signage, honestly.
boy in purple lighting cave mendips limestone subterranean cavernsI read the maps the whole way but so many of the settlements aren't on the Britain Road Map because they comprise 12 goats and a broken wall, and last had an actual inhabitant in 1756. So I wasn't always in complete cartographic control.
100% humidity and 11 degrees cool suitable for maturing cheesesWe did pass Grandad's house, the shop where he bought me a bike and the Centre Parcs where the PuddleMummies drank gin. In Wookey Car park, an elderly man gesticulated at us in a local accent and we were second in the queue! We had bought our tickets in advance so you get a receipt, and 2 stickers so you can go back to the car for a picnic and still get back in, and 2 tickets for the cave tour. Remember this, it's very important.
river axe from mendip hills somersetSo we headed directly for the caves, because that was the point of the visit, really. Once sufficient people had built up, we got in and were played some laughable special effects while the guide pressed buttons that lit up various rock formations.
He explained about the myth of the Witch, the dog turned to stone (a Rockweiler) and the sterling efforts of the cave divers who mapped out the tunnels and the miners who blasted through the rocks to make our walking tour easier. There are many calcite strata, clefts, galleries, low ceilings, mineralised coloured areas, stalactites, stalagmites, columns, waterfalls and slippery steps.
wookey hole paper mill playzone for kids theatre and penny antique arcadeThey've made a real effort since the first tour in 1927 and you're not allowed to shoot down the stalactites with muskets any more, or use flash photography because it scares the bats, 2 of which flew past my head. One of our tour group (approx. 3 years old) kept going I wanna go back etc so we secreted ourselves at the other end of the group.
They mature cheddar cheese down in the cool humid tunnels and they are totally whiffy, I can tell you. The wine sits there looking quiet but you can see billowing mould formations on the barrel-like cheeses and I was not impressed.
Once we'd emerged into daylight, we checked out the dinosaur models (some make noises) and the cooling streams and babbling brooks and verdant verges and fairies and dragons, most peaceful and tranquil it is too, why not.
wookey hole attractions Inside the extensive old mill-house buildings we saw films of cave divers, museum collections of bones and fossils, and a playzone. This one is big in that it is in 2 rooms with an overhead tunnel joining them so the poor parents don't even know if they're going "Come on, Maurice" into the right section. Ball pits, rocking horses, slides, all the usual stuff.
In fact we heard many foreign accents, Indian, French, German and Brum.
crazy golf putting course and captain jack's restaurantEventually I was prised loose and I had fun in the hall of mirrors which says don't run: swiftly enough 2 kids ran splat into mirrors and went off howling but I coped. In the food place I was just about to get Suspiciously Re-Shaped Poultry Bites with chips and peas when I went for the pre-packed (and sealed) lunch-box, didn't like much of the contents, lucky Bud saved me a jumbo sausage.
wookey hole caves activities In the food area is lots of circus-related memorabilia and several life-sized pirate models. The chap models have swords, telescopes and treasure chests, the females have treasured chests of epic proportions. I fondled the pneumatic breasts of many of them.
Outside is the Pirate Crazy Golf: free with every ticket so we did that. On hole 3 my shot was so bad it careened off a rock, over all the obstacles and straight into the hole. It was the only hole in 1 of the day.
After that you are invited to pan for gold for £2: we shared the pan-duties and came away with a sizeable amount of Iron Pyrites which we exchanged (as is the custom) for a plastic medal saying I've been to Wookey Hole. Then we hit the shop.
witch of wookey holeYou have to buy choccies for Jof, and something for Dear Follower Fiona who bought me those Tunisian sweeties that give blessed silence to the parent for 13-15 minutes. But then we also got some mineral gemstones + fossils for the glass-topped table and some luminous spiders and a Wookey Hole Notebook and a ring that lights up under UV and a green cast-resin Witch head for Jof and a squashed 1 penny for my collection and a 2 1/2 litre jug of "Legbender Cider" which leaked a bit on the way home so had to be opened that night, ahem.
caves on subterranean cavern tour wookey hole wells mendips So I was just having a loosener in the playzone again when he went a-wander. Normally we try to find coins for my collection: in the antique slot-machine amusement penny arcade he found (a) 3 tickets for the cave tour that someone had dropped and (b) another playzone room with 6 foam-ball cannons that we hadn't seen before.
So naturally we took advantage of this manna from heaven and took the tour again, only 8 of us this time (late in the day) and he said don't say anything about free or sinfully gleaned tickets in case they ask questions so I carefully spent the whole tour with the guide asking questions and displaying cavernous hoho speleological knowledge that could only have come from a prior visit. Never mind.
Once I'd shot the cannons, banged the drum and had the Choc'n'Fudge ice cream with added Flake, we slipped into rush hour traffic once more and got thoroughly rained on. We've met rain but it was nice for the timing to be right for once. We got home nearly 12 hours after leaving Jof in bed, at least we said goodbye. We spent 7 hours in Wookey, not bad.

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