Today was mostly a travel day, as we moved from Worcester up north to Dartmoor down in the southwest. The day started by going further north. We took the train up to Birmingham to pick up a rental car. Brief aside: is the rental car pickup process excruciatingly slow on purpose, to force you to join “frequent customer” programs? Anyways, we got our “upgrade pick” VW Polo (80 horsepower!) and set off south.
Our first stop (after a very time consuming wrong turn) was Caffeine and Machine. It’s one of a number of meccas for British petrol heads – a cafe, restaurant and hotel for fans of cars and bikes. It’s got lots of parking for clubs to meet up, and I gather it’s near some fantastic roads. We stopped for a coffee and some fries, and watched groups come and go. A Volvo 480! TVR Cerbera! A trio of old cars outfitted with go-fast stripes, seemingly as part of some buddies doing a cheap-car-challenge together. Lots of nice people and nice dogs. The benefits of living on a small, dense island. (yes, that’s a PT Cruiser in one of the photos. It’s a popular ironic shit-car purchase)
We kept going south, picking our way through traffic and then some backroads until we arrived at Cheddar Gorge. As in cheese. And also Cheddar Man. We parked at the bottom for a late lunch, then went up the gorge to crawl around on the rocks. We avoided the crowded tourist-filled cave tours. The caves were carved by the largest underground river in Britain and are probably worth visiting during a non-Covid non-bank holiday time. Cheddar Gorge is formed by beds of 300 million year old limestone which dip gently 20 degrees down to the south southwest. The rock itself is not particularly fossiliferous or interesting, but the vertical jointing makes for a climber’s paradise. Upon entering the gorge we were greeted by both a herd of mountain goats and a herd of rock climbers. We scrambled up the slope to get a closer look at the routes, making a mental note to come back.
Back in the car, we made our way down to Dartmoor with a brief stop at Aldi. Our Airbnb for the next few nights is absolutely delightful. It’s a small stone barn, as cosy as can be. Looking forward to slowing down our pace just a little (but not too much, it’s us after all) and enjoying the countryside.