I drove home from Exmoor via Cheddar. I'd walked around here a few years ago, but hadn't been in the caves. As I like caves I felt like I'd missed out. I spent most of the day here and bought a day ticket which gave me admission to both sets of caves, the museum and an open top bus tour through the gorge.
First I went into Gough's Cave which I walked through with an audio guide. Unfortunately the audio guides, which are included with the price of the ticket, are aimed at children. It would have been nice to have had an adult version giving me facts about the caves rather than telling me 'when my parents are ready' to do this, that and the other! The caves were well worth seeing though, with lots of interesting formations. There were racks of cheeses maturing inside too.
Next I went down the road to Cox's Cave and the Crystal Quest. The name itself had me a bit worried and I was right. I know I was in Cheddar, but do things really have to be this cheesy? The cave was a lot smaller than Gough's Cave and most of it was some kind of adventure quest with dummies and voices and sound effects leading you through in search of some kind of magic crystal.
The museum was quite interesting as was the bus tour through the gorge. The guide pointed out a layby where the RSPB had a telescope set up watching a couple of peregrine falcons who had nested at the top of the gorge. When I got back to my car I drove back to the layby and stopped for a while to chat to the RSPB people and check out the falcons. I was just too late to see the male fly off and the female was nowhere to be seen. I decided to stick around for a bit and was glad I did. After a while the male reappeared and flew round for a bit before coming in to land. Once back on top of the gorge he was very difficult to see. But patience paid off and he took off again for another fly round before settling in a much more viewable position.
He was wonderful to see, but if I'd been there without the RSPB pointing things out and making them obvious I'd probably have never noticed him. I've been trying to learn about birds for a while now. It would nice to know what it is flying past me when I'm out walking and I should be learning about all things nature-ish for my walking group leader's qualification. I find it hard to identify birds as when I look in a bird book they never quite look the same. I've thought about joining the RSPB on and off for a few years now, and I think I really should. Their magazines might help me with gaining knowledge and I'd be quite happy to support them. But as I've spent way too much money lately, it will have to wait a while.