What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
Cheddar Caves, Cheddar, Somerset
=How to get there.=–Train from Paddington. Great Western Railway. =Nearest Station.=–Cheddar. =Distance from London.=–134 miles. =Average Time.=–Varies between 4-1/4 to 5-1/4 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 21s. 4d. 13s. 4d. 10s. 8d. Return 37s. 4d. 23s. 4d. ...
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"Cliff Hotel,” etc.
The village of Cheddar, a name which reminds one of the cheese for which the district is famous, is situated under the Mendip Hills, on the Cheddar river, a tributary of the Axe. The place was once a market town of considerable note, as the fine market-cross still testifies, but is now chiefly celebrated as a starting-point for visiting the wonderful natural beauties of the neighbourhood, the tremendous gorge through the Cheddar cliffs and the stalactite caves being the most remarkable. The road from the village rises gradually, passing the masses of rock known as the “Lion,” the “Castle Rock,” the “Pulpit,” and others, named from their wonderful resemblance to the work of human hands. The way winds between steep limestone walls and towering pinnacles, rising here and there to a height of between four and five hundred feet, and absolutely shutting one in from even the merest glimpse of the magnificent scenery in the valley below. There are paths here and there leading up to points of vantage, but the way is difficult and dangerous owing to the manner in which the passes are honeycombed with caverns and fissures.
In the midst of the gorge on the right hand of the way lie the entrances to the marvellous stalactite caves, the first of which was discovered in 1837, and the second in comparatively recent times. It is needless to say that the proprietor of each cave affirms his to be the better–as a matter of fact, both are well worth seeing. One looks with something like awe on the fantastic shapes of the stalagmites and stalactites in these huge caverns, where the moisture, percolating through the earth, has been dripping in the darkness for countless centuries, each lime-laden drop lengthening imperceptibly the stalactite overhead and the stalagmite beneath, while the consequent splashings, and, in some parts, more sluggish dripping, make hundreds of quaint and suggestive forms above and below. The caverns are well lit up to display their beauties, and the admission is 2s. for a single visitor, or 1s. each for members of a party.
[Illustration: Photochrom Co., Ltd. CHEDDAR CLIFFS.
The road leading to the limestone caves.]