When I learned I was going caving for one of the activities on the Forest of Dean #DeanWyeBloggers weekend, I was excited to be doing something new yet, wasn't entirely sure what to expect. What the heck IS caving?!
Turns out caving is quite literally clambering around in, and exploring, natural age-old caves 200m below the surface. These caves are all over the Forest of Dean, hidden beneath the forest floor. Though they are naturally occurring, they were used for years as mining caves as they hold iron ore. We were taken on a tour of these beautiful wonders by Jonathan at Clearwell Caves.
|Walking under an old sea bed!|
Once inside, we continued through the caves, crouching and creeping around stalagmites and stalactites. We stopped at an open space to sit and let our eyes get used to the darkness, the only light allowing us to see being from our head torches. Though it is deathly quiet in the caves, we were not alone; lesser horseshoe bats were all around us! Beautiful and protected creatures, we admired them with caution. If they are to be disturbed from sleep too early in the season, they are likely to die due to lack of food. Guttingly their protection status prohibits photos, but anything to allow the gorgeous animals to rest.
After this we headed back the way, through a slightly different route. Jonathan took a minute to show us what it was like for the miners back in the day. With no head torches, they used candlelight, and it is safe to say you can barely see your hand in front of you. We also experimented with our own eyesight: with no candlelight nor torch light, naturally in the darkness you would await your eyes to adjust. But our eyes need some sort of light to see, even if it is dull. 200m below the surface there is zilch, and it's a strange experience when your eyes don't adjust to your surrounding. Of course this was an apt opportunity for ghost stories, after which we thankfully headed outside!
|Photo courtesy of David Broadbent|
|Quick photo with our guide, Jonathan|
|Immy and I, clay-covered back at our cottage, after a wonderful afternoon!|