Cheddar Gorge, England
On August 5th, 2016; I found myself exploring the Cheddar Gorge area in England.
Below, I’m posing at the top of Cheddar Gorge, a steep, narrow limestone gorge surrounded by cliffs near the town of Cheddar. It runs through the Mendip Hills.
It is the largest gorge in Great Britain, dropping to a maximum depth of 123 m and attracts 300,000 visitors a year.
The rocks of the gorge date back to the Carboniferous period, from about 280 – 340 million years ago. The gorge itself was formed about 18,000 years ago, as glaciers over Britain melted and huge volumes of meltwater eroded the limestone into the shapes we see today.
Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton was found in a Cave within Cheddar Canyon—9,000 yr. old Cheddar Man.
Nearby, I had the time to explore “The Wookey Hole”. Wookey Hole Caves are a series of limestone caverns, a show cave and tourist attraction in the village of Wookey Hole on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills near Wells in Somerset, England.
The River Axe flows through the cave. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for both biological and geological reasons. Wookey Hole cave is a “solutional cave”, one that is formed by a process of weathering in which the natural acid in groundwater dissolves the rocks. Some water originates as rain that flows into streams on impervious rocks on the plateau before sinking at the limestone boundary into cave systems.
The dry portion of the cave offered safe habitat with a constant temperature of 50 degree F. The first human lodgers came some 50,000 years ago, hunting bears and rhinoceros with stone weapons. Archeologists believe that one cave, Hyena Den, was alternately occupied by hyenas and man between 35,000 and 25,000 B.C.. In the Iron Age, Celtic farmers lived near the cave entrance for more than 600 years. Wookey Hole is the birthplace of British cave-diving, and the museum covers this during the tour.
Below, I’ve taken a photo of a very strange formation found at the lowest level of the cave. I’ve never seen a cave formation like this.