WITH THE KIDS: Clearwell Caves
Nestled just outside of Coleford town, are Clearwell Caves. An impressive and magical reminder of how things used to be, when the caves were mined, and a place where families can step back in time.
Now when I was younger, I really wasn’t keen on caves. I grew up not that far away from Wookey Hole, so I was very aware of the Wookey Hole witch. And so, you’d understand why I was just a little frighten. That’s why I was really quite surprised when both my children decided that they wanted to visit Clearwell Caves.
I’d heard lots of good things about Clearwell Caves, from friends, so I knew that it would be a good place to take the family. However, I really had no idea what to expect.
It was a damp grey day so going to the caves was perfect. A place to shelter from the endless downpour of rain whilst spending time with the family in this intriguing attraction.
As we entered the main attraction, we were treated to a mini museum that is stuffed full of interesting artefacts and memorabilia from the olden times. Us adults were engrossed in reading about what life was like when the caves were mined. Whilst our children were mesmerised by the fossils and clay figurines. Next stop, the actual caves.
The caves are like a living museum.
As we made our way around the caves we were treated to seeing how and what it would have been like to work in the mines. We saw the equipment that they would have used and how this evolved over time. Louka loved this. He was literally obsessed with the mining trucks and the fact that there is a track underground. Lea, on the other hand, was fascinated to hear that children as young as 7 would work in the mine. They were known as Billy Boys. This is because they would use a billy to carry between 60-70lbs of iron ore. My children are strong but not that strong.
As we continued to make our way around the caves we became aware that the caves are home to a variety of bats. For a few seconds, we anxiously walked through the tunnels. However, it wasn’t long before our attention was taken by other things. Plus, it’s highly unlikely that any of them were going to come and say hello.
Clearwell Caves is a unique experience and there are a couple of highlights that I will remember from our trip.
About halfway around, projection is used to create shadows of the miners on the cave wall. It transports you back in time. Hearing actual recordings of the miners’ voices is hypnotising.
Then there is the sound churn where you can have some fun with noise. Whether it’s drumming on an old air receiver or having some fun with how sound levels differ throughout the cave.
The part I enjoyed the most, and kept my two entertained, was the skeleton pool. The ancient sea creatures are projected onto the back wall and in the tranquil waters. It’s so realistic my two insisted that the creatures were real.
Having spent some time in the caves it was definitely time to end our trip by getting something to eat at the Lampoon café. A delicious light bite from the café for the grown-ups and the compulsory kiddies lunchbox for my kiddies.
Tummies full, my two managed a quick play in the playground before the heavens opened and so we headed back to sunny Bristol.
Visit www.clearwellcaves.com/plan-your-visit for more information on opening dates and time and for more details on prices and discounts.
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