You may remember my ridiculous visit to Cheddar Gorge a couple of weeks ago, when I set out at 4.30 in the morning when it was wet and horrible. I should have known better. I should always know better but some of us just don't learn.
Last week-end the weather, for the most part, was better. Saturday was sunny. On Saturday morning I helped some friends move into their new home, in the early evening (when I had recovered a bit) I went to a nature reserve near my home - there will be photos of that later. Sunday was sunny in the morning and I did nothing. Early in the afternoon it rained like someone was throwing swimming pools around. This was not part of my plan. I wanted to go back to Cheddar Gorge and take photographs and it seemed I had got it wrong again. Late in the afternoon there was a gap in the clouds and I took that as my cue to get in my little car with its 'Schweiz' sticker on the back and head across the moors to Cheddar.
It had been raining heavily but it was clear and sort of okay as I drove through the village past the horrendous tourist nonsense that Cheddar has accumulated over the years. Shops selling the sort of tat that wouldn't be out of place in Blackpool, Skegness, Llandudno or much closer to hand at Weston-super-Mare. Cheddar attracts tourists and thrives off them. There's nothing wrong with that but, as a local, I just wish this stuff wouldn't come with them. The tourists come for the caves, the ice creams, the 'Home of Cheddar cheese' and the Gorge. They come for Jacob's Ladder, a staircase up the side of the hill that has 274 steps and you have to pay for the privilege of putting yourself through it.
I drove past all that, up along the road that goes through the base of the Gorge, past where the tour buses turn round and head back, to a small lay-by beyond where it is spectacular. This time I decided I would climb the other side, the west side and see where the steep path took me. It started like this.
This is looking back through the woods along the first section of the path
A lovely little fern I found growing among the rocks
My first view from up above the trees
First proper view of the Gorge
Looking down from where I had come. Can you spot the car on the road at the bottom of the Gorge? You might need to click on the picture to make it bigger to spot it.
You get an impression of just how high up this is, in contrast to the flat landscape beyond.
Just after I took this picture, at about the highest point of the clifftop walk, the heavens opened and it bucketed down. I had a walk, scramble, trot, slither of about twenty minutes to get back to the car. It was very slippery and the path was rocky and muddy and I fell over spectacularly and grazed my knee. Luckily, even though I was still carrying it, I managed to avoid smacking my camera onto the rocks and came back the rest of the way unscathed. Soaked through, but unscathed.
One day I will learn that the best time to go there is when it is sunny and I won't have to take a chance on the weather. The problem is, that's when everybody else goes there too.