Like Gough's Cave, Cox's Cave has high ceilings and endless corridors. Unfortunately, being smaller and closer to the town, it was much more crowded. The passages were narrow, and the crowd pushed me through the cave faster than I would have liked.
Though it is only a few hundred yards from Gough's Cave, Cox's Cave has a different type of rock, and the colours are much more spectacular. There was a dead-end where I managed to escape the crowd long enough to stand and stare at the coloured walls, layered in red and yellow and even green, towering over me.
At one place on the tour, an opening has been left just as the original explorers made it. There was a huge crowd waiting before this tiny passage, and I found it interesting to experience how tight it must have been when these caves were first explored.
After reaching the end of Cox's Cave, we weary travellers were given a choice; we could either escape to the outdoors, or we could brave the underground adventure of Crystal Quest. It seemed that an evil dragon had captured the spirit of magic, and someone had to explore the tunnels to find the secret lair of the dragon and free the magic. I thought it an incredible coincidence that this had happened while I was in the cave.
I was feeling foolishly brave, and joined the group of stalwart adventurers who volunteered to help restore the magic. There was a gatekeeper who held us back until the cave was safe to enter. Then a good wizard explained the situation to us, and gave us some clues to help us find the dragon.
We wandered through the tunnels and met several evil goblins, some of them surprisingly realistic. Each time, we were saved either by the goblins getting bored, or by some hero appearing to slay them. I was impressed at the illusion of movement that could be created simply by changing the lighting. The caves were dark enough that anything not illuminated simply disappeared.
At each encounter a little more of the story was revealed. By the time we reached the last cavern, we were ready to defeat the evil dragon himself. He came forward out of a deep cave and breathed fire at us, though everybody managed to avoid injury. That was the great showdown, and a few of us rushed forward to activate the magic crystal.
I did not believe it was a real dragon, even for a second, though I made sure to touch the "magic crystal" on my way out of the cave, just in case there was any truth to the legend. After all, something must have inspired the creator.
I talked with the proprietor on the way out, and he told me that the attraction has been there for many years. All the caves of Crystal Quest are entirely manmade. Apparently, after the discovery of Gough's Cave and Cox's Cave, there were no more showcaves to find. One man spent his life looking, and eventually became so frustrated that he decided to build his own. He had spent so long exploring other caves that he knew what caves should look like, and indeed the caves of Crystal Quest do look very natural. In order to entice people into his showcaves, he added the story, and the original attraction has kept going ever since.
After leaving Crystal Quest, I climbed Jacob's Ladder to get the view from the top of the gorge. It was a very long climb, and I was glad that I had got lots of exercise walking around the other British sites. When I reached the top I was disappointed to discover that the lookout tower, called Pavey's Lookout, was closed. Nonetheless, I enjoyed a brief walk on the top of the hill before heading back down Jacob's Ladder.
I walked down to the town of Cheddar and explored it for a while, relaxing and sampling the local goods. I had some delicious ice cream, and bought some cheese to accompany me on my continuing trip. I felt I could not leave Cheddar without sampling their cheese.
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