Yesterday P had a day off work, so we packed our raincoats and walking boots and headed for a rather special place that I've wanted to visit for years, a place of mystery and magic. Come with me and I'll show you ...
Goblin Combe in North Somerset is a deep fissure cut millions of years ago into the limestone by rushing water as ancient ice melted. Left behind is a steep-sided gorge with a path running along the bottom.
It's eerily quiet here, apart from birdsong. No one else is around.
Tread carefully. It feels as if we're being watched.
All around us there seem to be faces ...
Shhh ... fairies live here.
A folktale tells the story of a little girl who got lost while gathering primroses here, falling though a rock into fairyland before being let home with some gold as a gift.
We are quiet, and talk in hushed voices. Around us ancient yew trees twist out of the rock,
contorting into strange shapes.
Tiny mosses and lichens cover almost every surface.
Fallen trees are left where they fell, and the earth takes them back.
Huge boulders lie either side of the path.
This is an ethereal place, wild and enthralling.
Above us the precipice looms, bearing down on us as we wend our way.
Once in a while a set of steps lead up and out of sight towards the top of the cliffs.
Loose scree cascades down the sides of the valley either side of us.
Above our heads we hear first and then see a raven, who flies away cacklng coarsely.
Tiny scented violets dot the floor of the gorge, drawing the eye down from the crags above.
Then something happens. Clouds clear and the sun comes out, and light streams down through the trees, brightening the valley floor as if a light has been switched on. Relaxing, we talk louder and walk more assuredly.
We smile as we catch the shimmer of bluebells under the trees.
Last year's beech leaves litter the ground
and moss-coated boulders suddenly glow emerald green, lit by the sun.
Cracked limestone walls above our heads are thrown into sharp relief ...
... and the roots of gnarled yews seek purchase, forcing their way into the fissures in the rock.
Sudden, deafening noise shakes the air around us as a passenger plane roars overheard, scarily low, and we remember that Bristol airport is not far away, bringing us back to the here and now.
Throughout Goblin Combe its geology is explained in these brilliant interpretation boards,
as well as its landscape and history,
and its rich and varied wildlife.
We only found one of these stunning carved wooden panels, but there was so much detail in it.
I wished I'd brought my own crayons and paper.
Goblin Combe has moonwort ferns, stinking hellebores, dormice, yews and butterflies on its high grasslands.
It is a beautiful, fascinating place and we will come back here, maybe to climb those steps and see the butterflies.
Thank you for coming with me for a memorable afternoon x