I will return to blogging about the IOW holiday later but first some photos from yesterday when I took my son to Hereford to see the Mappa Mundi.
Following a nightmare experience trying to park we eventually got to the cathedral and it was certainly worth the parking hassle. Its a beautiful cathedral steeped in history with a nave dating from the twelfth century, Norman pillars and fourteenth century aisles. There are some incredible stone and wood carvings, wonderful stained glass windows and medieval artefacts, shrines and tombs. The Mappa Mundi exhibition is excellent and the Mappa Mundi itself (the largest surviving complete medieval world map) is awesome as is the Chained Library.My son, David also tells me that the Library contains one of only four original copies of the signed Magna Carta.
You need to buy a permit to take photographs inside the cathedral and somewhere I read that you are not allowed to publish these anywhere so sadly the photos below are limited to those I took outside the Cathedral. They are are not very good as there was a lot of construction/renovation work taking place.
In the afternoon we couldn't decide whether or not to visit Nagshead (RSPB Reserve), Puzzlewood or Clearwell Caves but as we only had a few hours we decided on the latter.
According to the Guide the caves form part of an extensive natural cave system that was partially filled with iron ore 180 million years ago. Mining for coloured iron oxides and ochres commenced over 4000 years ago and has continued until today. The mining caverns deep underground are very atmospheric (almost spooky at times as we saw very few other people) - several films and episodes of tv series (e.g. Doctor Who including the recent weeping angel episode) have been filmed here. The caves provide a home for several species of bat such as greater horseshoe, natterers, and long-eared bats with lesser horseshoe bats being the most numerous. Hanging web strands made by the European Cave Spider make the atmosphere more eerie and the guide reports that an "old man" in old-fashioned mining clothes appears to haunt the mine. There are lots of interesting rock formations, including a frozen waterfall, and a variety of rock types such as flowstone (a type of calcite), grease limestone, whitehead limestone as well as the iron ore occurring mainly as goethite (brown haematite) and red haematite.
Dungeness mid-May birds
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