Our first morning of camping was pretty simple in terms of breakfast: yogurt and fruit. We decided to treat ourselves to a full English breakfast on the second day, and were advised to go to this gem of a place with a great view of a lake.
With our bellies full and content, we headed for the village of Cheddar in Somerset, where, believe it or not, cheddar cheese originates. There are caves in Cheddar Gorge that have the ideal temperature for maturing cheese. Gough’s Cave happens to be one of them.
The cave offers a cute self-guided audio tour that features an actor playing Gough himself, as he takes you through the cave and explains how he excavated and opened up the cave to the public between 1892 and 1898. It’s pretty crazy to think that the guy crawled through so much unknown in total darkness. As a claustrophobe, it’s literally my worst nightmare. And I mean, sure, it paid off handsomely when he discovered some of these sites and opened them to the public…
But up until then, was this a hobby of his, or was it his source of income? What if he never ended up finding anything? How did he make money?
One cool fact I found particularly interesting was that in order to prepare for the possibility of cave walls cracking and collapsing, excavators would dig coins into the walls. On their way out every day, they’d look up at the walls and count to make sure that all the coins were still up. If one was missing, it was likely because the cave wall had cracked in that spot.
The audio tour also featured a brief visit from Cheddar Man–the oldest complete human skeleton found in Britain. He is believed to be over 7, 000 years old. The craziest part is that DNA taken from the skelton was matched to a man still living in the area! Cheddar Man would be his great, great, great, great, great, great……I’m not gonna go there.
After the caves, it was time to hike the Gorge itself.
Upon returning to the camp site, Doris and I decided to check out something we’d seen near the campsite on our drive back. It was a phone booth. Except this particular phone booth was filled with books! It had been converted into a library. We managed to find some gems in there, but then came to the uncomfortable dilemma of trying to figure out what to do with these books. I mean, it’s not like we could borrow them and return them from Canada. Do we just take them?
We already had three books in our hands when a woman happened to be coming by to add a few more books to the library collection. After explaining that the booth was converted into a library for the community in order to get some practical use out of it, she asked if we were locals or just travelling through Bristol. We figured this was her way of trying to figure out our intentions for the books we had in our grubby little hands. When I explained that we were from Canada and were camping for a few days, she calmly told us to take any books we pleased.
Score! We were given permission to steal! We were stealing donated books! Thanks, Bristol!
We totally ended up taking like half a dozen books.