Shipham to Cheddar Gorge Loop
We left the cover of the trees and took the route along Black Down which was a peaty type of terrain, very dark and swampy with tufts of stiff grasses. These mounds acted as stepping stones allowing us to cross very waterlogged areas. Ahead were some tall masts that we had to stay in line with. Going by the map, we needed to take the fourth path that crossed ours but after counting four we still took the wrong one. See what I mean about the lost ramblers, its not for trying it just happens. On this occasion we were glad of the little detour as we found a strange mound of earth that had holes in it. They were like small peep holes or windows. At the entrance to the mound was a brick wall or blast shield. Whatever this thing was it certainly had something to do with the war, that much was clear - but what the hell was it? We passed down the field of long grass and we noticed another one but this time it was not caged and we could get inside. apart from the smell of damp it was just a room with concrete plinths in the centre of it. We were still none the wiser as to their intended use. Carrying down the field we saw lots of small mounds of rocks; like small cairns randomly placed. This was something else added to our homework list.
There was a large factory to our left that expelled plumes of white smoke, possibly steam into the sky, it almost looked like a cloud maker against the rich blue sky. We walked towards a barbed wire fence and found a safe way of straggling it. We then headed down through another field of lush green grass to a road. We turned left and walked until we saw our footpath sign through some woods. There was a series of small bridges over the same stream that winded through the trees. Our route took us upward and out on to open ground. We walked parallel to some woods - Swallow Hole and Rhino Rift was marked upon the map. A group of walkers were on our tail as we wondered down into a different type of wilderness. The Gorge was close, we could tell by the cliffs that surrounded us. Going by the map this area was once a quarry.
It was a really interesting place to walk through. In the photo above you can see Nigel and Mark admiring the landscape. In its heyday it was probably a hive of industry men hacking away at the cliffside and tramways running beneath our feet.
We headed on round the valley keeping our eyes open for anything strange or structure-like that we could explore and soak up more of this landscapes history. We did notice a large building that had bars across an opening in its base. It had a geared mechanism on its roof that may have held a crane of sorts.
We stumbled upon the popular Jacobs ladder and instead of heading down the hundreds of steps we cut through some trees following an overgrown path. This lead us out on to a narrow lane behind some houses. The lane brought us out at the bottom the main drag, I knew our path was on the opposite side of the road but it was difficult to find. After yet another oversight we were guided by one of the cave staff to our turning. The mid day heat was up and before us was another mountain of a hill to climb. It looked like a dried up stream or fast flowing river bed as it had large boulders and stones littered all the way up the hill. When we thought we could see the end.. it wasn't and the path carried on. It went on and on and on until we got to some very large steps which seemed harder to climb than the boulders because each step was about two feet high. Finally we reached the top and I think its fair to say that we were well and truly knackered.