Blog Day18- Cheddar Gorge to Roman Baths
The rugged side walls of Cheddar Gorge, Englands Grand Canyon.
We took our breakfast early at this Hostel. It was ushered along by a matronly Grand mother who was busy whipping some respect into her apparent grand-daughters who didn’t seem to enjoy serving/cooking/cleaning………….or for that matter, being awake at this time of day.
Very tight turns, and rock walls with plenty of full cover mark this road as being gorgeous too drive.
Looking towards the rear wall of Bath Abbey as we walk in that direction.
The domed cieling of the entry inot the Roman baths
First stop is Cheddar Gorge, the home of Cheddar Cheeses that now surround the planet, and also home to England’s version of Carlsbad Caverns and maybe our Grand Canyon. Although both of the later pale by comparison to the size and splendor of our own natural wonders, non-the-less they are quite pretty. The gorge is an ancient Volcano and run off creation, they say……….funny how many things rely on a heavy run-off of water for their ultimate creation………………..it’s almost as if there was this huge FLOOD at some time in our history.
Roman Baths #1
Roman Baths #2
Walking the streets of Bath
The Gorge runs for some 3-4 miles, and its walls are at times sheer rock formation spanning some 500 feet in width and 800 feet in height. In several places the rock walls of the gorge are grass and brush covered, in these places the park service has employed Goats to aid in maintaining the equilibrium between grass and brush encroachment…………………….I am fairly certain that here in USA, we would have to remove the Goats to safe sanctuary in case a “height challenged” Goat should fall. And ,of course we would all wonder and spend money on studies to conclude the reasons for advanced brush encroachment and what could be done about it.
The busy streets of Bath, vendors and entertainers blot the path
Deep in the bowels of Cheddar Gorge
Just one of several underground lakes within Cheddar Gorge.
There are several very large caverns that lay hidden under the lip or banks of the Gorges walls, each created as was Carlsbad by the introduction of acids emitted by the Volcanoe. The released acids eat the Limestone rock, and create huge twisted, gnarled caverns with smooth walls and folds and pleats along each foot of wall. The Folds & Pleats of these cavern walls is what make them different than those we have here in America, or for that matter the rest of the world. Isn’t it amazing how God knew way back then the eventual importance of Tourism would be to the majesty of what his hands had created………just amazing. They often refer to the larger folded formations as a curtain, and indeed when you see them in person along a wall in these caverns they do look like a huge curtain or drape. There is a fairly interesting natural history presentation at the end of the Cavern Tour, it explains all facets from and evolutionary aspect. The finding of an Ancient man, with a full set of teeth……………….concluding he didn’t come from Arkansas nor Virginia. But he was old, and we know it because he was in there when we found it, making him older than the explorers. And thus ANCIENT.
A tumbling human skull was a part of the coming to life exhibition at the exit of Caves.
This is a pure luck shot of the strobe lit Dragon the ends your tour of Cheddar Gorge.
The tiny river that runs down through Cheddar Gorge and makes up the source of water for the Cheese making that has existed in this gorge for such a long time.
We walk the touristy town of Cheddar, sample many forms and types of Cheddar. Funny how most of this Cheddar is white colored and Sharp tasting. While our US counterpart is always yellow/orange and tastes like eating a candle from the Thanks giving dinner table. We sampled it spiced/ fruited/ marbled/ crumbled/ on crackers/ even sliced & original which was pretty cool. I loved it and the kids all gagged.
Bath Abbey and a tribute to an Emporer
We head up the Gorge on our exit over the top to find huge rolling grass hills as the circumference of the Gorge, each with an ample amount of grazing livestock to keep them healthy and productive. As we drive this very narrow piece of road, we pass what is certainly a Gypsy camp. It is right on the side of the road at a place that seems convenient to them and without care nor concern for those who may happen by. I am wanting to stop RIGHT at the road side by their many brightly colored horse drawn wagons, which are reminiscent of those wagons pulled by our sheep herders so many years ago. But the size of the fangs on the lone German Sheppard I see makes me come to my senses and leave a little distance between the cheeks of my butt and his jaws.
A small portion of what would have been an exquisite tiled floor within the bath area.
All of my crew at the side of the Roman Baths of Bath England.
I have always wondered how you discern a "Dummy " from a "Mannequin"?
Outside the Jane Austin Tea Room & Museum
Snaking our way over hillsides covered in grass, we roll along in the quite air conditioned comfort of our Swedish Rocket. Those narrow B lanes, and the constant presence of ivy lined rock walls built a deciduous tunnel that careened us strait into the city of Bath. A welcome refuge for most of the day, as there are so many things to see in this beautiful city. We will begin at the Roman Baths, the Emporer’s version of a Holiday Inn to the north. Built by the first century Romans, 100 AD. Complete with a 125 by 90 bath, filled with healing hot mineral waters that refurbish and heal the limbs of a conqueror. It had to be the scene of opulence and luxury in its day, if you consider the _”mud hut makeup” of this area prior to the arrival of the Romans. The Romans brought with them arrows, catapults, cavalry and well trained ground armies that could devastate the hunter gatherer armies that stood in their way. And over time, when the battles were done, the generals and politicians could relax and console one another around Baths and Parlors the likes of which the peasantry could not even imagine. Darren is really into the whole Roman history……………..not sure if it ties into his Italian heritage or not. Darren insisted on his having a picture beside the Roman Baths, it was a crowded place on this day, but folks gave us enough time and space to get the shot.
The Royal Crescent
The spectacular Vaulted cieleings of Bath Abbey
The light that bathed the interior was more golden than it was white, it hung like a drape acorss burial plaques as old as the year 1122.
We make our way through the Museum display, which gives us a sense of how majestic these baths would have been in their day, with the tiled floors, and lead piped which carried water every where. Giant hand pumps that are used to transport water to higher and further locations from the source. Places to lounge and be fed by hand by servants, wine in casks, and places to store fresh fruits and Mead etc. In general, a whore house for Conquerors.
The sweet melody of a trio of Violins greets our ears as we exit the Abbey
Tight, fast playing punctuates the air as we sip our Latte.
Looking back on BAth as we are headed towards Stone Henge and our days end.
Out in the local streets we make our way to the Jane Austin Tea Room, you know the old heifer that came to be so famous in the movie known as Pride & Prejudice. The only thing that makes this epically boring tale work, is that they hung the story line around the frame of Keira Knightley………….had they given her the frame of Rosie “O” none of us would have watched it. It would have been called a Dog Catchers Debate. But , my daughter just loves the story and because of that so do I. Nevada wants to have a cup of Tea from the land mark establishment, but for some reason the Tea Room is closed. So she finds herself a Tea Cup instead from this literary edifice of English Culture.
Sheep graze amidst building thunderheads on a distant ridge.
From there we head somewhat north to the Royal Crescent, a half circle of housing for the well to do of England in her day. The huge circular form of richly decorated buildings is quite a sight, the blue sky peaks thru and allows a little sun to adorn the taupe walls of this 18th Century structure. From there we walk the short distance down too the Royal Gardens, which encompass some 300 acres and prove to be too vast for our sidewalk weary legs. So our Garden tours are shortened so that we may walk back and take in the Bath Abbey before it closes for the day.
The time worn formation we know as Stone Henge is much more impressive in person than in pictures, I guess becasue you get a better idea of the massize size of this rock moving enterprise.
This decision proved to be one of the smartest we had made on the whole trip. It goes without saying that the Abbeys and Churches over here are just astounding, this Abbey known as the “Light to the West” is without doubt one of the finest examples you will find. The huge high vaulted ceilings all done in white limestone, the abundance of windows on every wall that allow in a burst of glowing light from every stained glass transom, it baths the time worn white rock walls with color only Angels can sing of. The deeply carved wooden Pews, each with an entwining Ivy leaf decoration on its end, all done in rich brown Mahogany, offset by the dark marble floor tiles that lead you to the Reredos and Altar under the adoring gaze of a Crucified Christ on the Cross. For myself, I have seen many Catherdals and Abbeys over here in Europe and UK, but none seemed to have the sense of majesty that this had. If you are ever here, your trip would be less important if you did not take it in.
Just my crew, happy to have seen Stone henge, happy to be done for the day.
We sat outside of the Abbey, on the street at a Bistro and had coffee while some young musicians played in a stringed ensemble……….” Known as a group of Pickers in Elko in January”. They played it all with verve and gusto, from “Shopin” to Mozart, a little Beetles and a little P-Diddy. It was fun for the kids, too sip a Latte and be serenaded by three young people not much older than they were, and they done it with such flair and zeal it was enthusiastic. We walked the streets for some time before we mounted our method of conveyance onwards to the city of Portsmouth which looks to the south and the Atlantic Ocean.
Fields full of grain await enough dry time to be harvested...........
We are in Stone Henge country and the wonders of what all this primordial edifice to the Gods is really supposed to be or do. There is no mistaking how massive an undertaking it must have been for the primitive man that built this monument. I have , like many of you, seen countless images of Stone Henge. I can say with honesty it is fun to see in person, and the significance of its size really drives home the importance of its difficulty in creating. As to exactly what it was supposed to do for the indigenous peoples of this area...........well, specualtion runs the gammut. One thing that we did notice is that even though the materials used to build Stone Henge are different, the actual layout is strikingly similar to some of those first mounds we visited in Ireland a few weeks ago. Within seconds of snapping this picture thru a "Chain Link fence", yes I said a chain link its true. A huge Buss pulled up, and dumped out a load of tourists that swarmed the monument like conquering Roman soldiers removing any chance of a second more interesting shot. Oh well, we came, we saw,we climbed on is the tourist motto.
I think we must all have been sort of restauranted out, because the suggestion of Mom cooking at the Hostel comes with a great deal of acceptance. So we have some sliced meat and Cheddar cheese from Cheddar on crackers, Mom cooks Pasta and some kind of Vodka Sauce. We sit back with some Tea and the kids play cards while I work on the Blog again
Good Night and God Bless
Once again Luxury accomodations await us, hardening us for travel in the unknown