Hello! Today was the day that we completed our first challenge for Children In Need. We left at around 8:45 to make the two hour drive down to Cheddar in Somerset:
On our drive down to Cheddar we drove past Stone Henge! It is fascinating to wonder how they actually got those stones up there. For anyone who does not know what Stone Henge is (well you never know who could be reading!) here is a lovely little picture thanks to English Heritage:
Cheddar Gorge is located in Somerset and it is where Cheddar cheese comes from! After seeing all the cheese lined up in the caves we now know exactly what they mean by cave-aged cheddar!!
Once we got to Cheddar we were a bit early so got to have a look around. There are so many traditional and old shops including the one below which did wooden carvings and had this lovely little selection of ducks in boots!!
After our little wander around Cheddar it was time to go get suited and booted ready to go caving. The caving we had signed up for was the X-treme caving adventure which you can check out by clicking here.
You are led ¼ mile, past the admiring tourists in Gough’s Cave to start your Level 2 multi-pitch caving expedition. You switch on your head lamp for the easy climb to the Mushroom Chamber, crawl into Sand Chamber, use a lifeline down a 40ft steel ladder into the Boulder Chamber, then climb up the Far Rift.
You emerge through April Fool’s Squeeze, clip onto a wire traverse and crawl across The Bottomless Pit, then slip headfirst through The Letterbox, before returning to the Sand Chamber on your way out – muddy, but proud!
As we were not able to take our phones into the cave through fear of breaking them we did a video before we entered the cave. Nerves were definitely setting in as either of us had done anything like this before. It is a strange sort of nerves because as discussed in the video above it is hard to know that something scares you if you have never experienced anything like it before, in this instance claustrophobia. Having never been trapped in a small space before it is hard to know if small spaces scare you so the fear was more a fear of being fearful and the unknown!
Here are our delightful caving clothes before we entered the caves! We thought it was going to be really cold in the caves but it turns out it was actually quite the opposite! We were actually very grateful for these outfits as we really did get covered in mud from head to foot!
Once we were suitability dressed we made our way to the cave. Nerves by this point were off the scale. We plodded along in our boots past the tourists and to the entrance of the bit of the cave we were going to explore. The lovely man in the middle there was our X-treme caving instructor called George. How this man managed to put up with the pair of us in a cave underground for nearly 2 hours we have no idea. While we were crawling, climbing, slipping and sliding our way through the cave he was sailing through making it look really effortless and giving us all the interesting facts and history about the caves at the same time. We quickly found out that caving was no where near as effortless as George made it seem. One of the hardest decisions for each section of the cave was whether to go feet first or head first! This along with the decision to try and crawl through like a worm or shuffle through like an upside down tortoise. Turns out shuffling through a gap which is only ever so slightly bigger than you are is not very easy and we both managed to get ourselves well and truly stuck on several occasions. However when the only option you have is to get yourself out then you somehow find some sort of strength or some sort of flexibility that you never knew you had. The 40 foot ladder was a bit of a challenge but we managed it! We are very proud to say that both of us conquered the letter box which was a tiny gap between the rocks that we had to crawl face first down and post ourselves through and crawl through the gap in the rock and out the other side. Sam may have made the mistake of going feet first and got a little bit stuck, but we will gloss over this bit. The bottomless pit for us was probably the most terrifying part. We had to crawl across the rocks at the top of the pit and then across a ladder/ledge that was laid across the pit. After just under two hours of caving we were at the end of the experience and made our way back to the entrance of the cave very very muddy!
For our challenges we wanted to do things that either scared us or pushed us. This one definitely did both. We are bruised, achy, muddy and look like we’ve had a lovely little bit of fake tan!
If this is ever something you have considered doing then we would tell you to go do it! It is terrifying but so worth it in every way. We never thought that we could do something like this and surprised ourselves!
Thank You so much to George and the team at Cheddar Gorge for such a brilliant day! A massive thanks to George for ensuring we got through the cave safely, and for putting up with us two for 2 hours of your day! You were a brilliant instructor and we really enjoyed our day!
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~Sam & Jenna