A couple of weeks ago, we headed for a day out with a bit of a difference...
Kents Cavern is one of the most important Stone Age sites in all of Europe, and is possibly Britains oldest cave.
Now I have to admit, being a little bit claustrophobic and taking a 3 year old who isn't so keen on the dark, I was a bit concerned about whether or not this day out might be a disaster in the making....but I was growing tired of the usual parks, beaches and farm days out that are so plentiful here in Devon and we all fancied doing something a bit different.
So we headed off to Kents Cavern feeling a mix of excited and a little apprehensive!
We'd told Tyne already that the caves would be dark in some parts, and he was also feeling a bit nervous about it...but after chatting about how Batman lived in a cave he was more than up for it! Wondering if this might even be THE very cave that Batman lived in!
When we reached Kents Cavern, I was quite surprised to find that it looked very quaint and welcoming - I'm not sure exactly what I expected, but perhaps something a little daunting in some way?!
Instead we wandered in past a pretty tea room and picnic area with a lovely view over Torbay, and headed in to the nice open cafe and gift shop area where we greeted and informed that the next tour of the cave would be taking place in a few minutes.
After a very short wait, we headed in to the tour meeting point where our guide, Amy, informed us of how the tour would work, how long it would last and what we could expect.
Our group consisted of around 20 or so people, one of whom was a teenaged girl who expressed her absolute disinterest in the experience loudly to her Dad - giving him a dramatic eye roll and saying with a deadpan expression "Look at my face, look at how excited I am to be here." - I'm telling you this because it's important and I'll be coming back to it later on!
And then off we went!
Can you see the face in the rocks?!! This wasn't man made!
I was surprised to find that the caves were reached via a big wooden door, and when we stepped inside with the door closed behind us - it didn't feel small and enclosed as I expected it to, infact it was very large and roomy - there was plenty of space all around us and above our heads, and I didn't feel at all uncomfortable or concerned.
The tour was started off with a bit of a light show and some recorded information about how they were discovered which was actually very interesting, even for someone with no prior interest in this sort of thing such as myself.
And then we headed off, following Amy through the caves.
Although we were warned that certain parts would be steep and narrow, I never found it to be something that I noticed at all - the incline was very slight and I don't think many people would struggle with it, and the narrowest point was still wide enough to walk through with a little room at either side of you.
There was never a need to duck down, or twist yourself in any way to get into any part of it which is something I had expected - infact the caves can even be navigated by a small single pushchair which was interesting to know!
Every so often, Amy would stop us and point out some areas of interest within the cave - she showed us the various stalactites and stalagmites and discussed their age with is and how they were formed...this may all sound like it could have been dull but Amy was a very entertaining guide and she had us laughing out loud more than once with her anecdotes and little jokes.
When we reached the Bears Den, we experienced the famous Kents Blackout - where all of the lights are switched off and you experience the complete darkness of the caves.
I found this absolutely fascinating, I literally couldn't see my own hand in front of my face - I've never experienced such absolute darkness, and to think that is the darkness that the explorers who discovered those caves all those years ago would have experienced is quite mind blowing - how they continued to dig through them with only lantern light I'll never know!
Our tour lasted for around 45 minutes, and all of us thoroughly enjoyed it.
Tyne, my 3 year old, was thoroughly entertained throughout and surprised us all by not even whimpering during the black out - he took it completely in his stride and has told everybody he meets all about it since.
And that stroppy teenager who had no interest in the caves? Well, she laughed more than any of our group throughout the tour at Amy's jokes, seemed interested throughout, didn't make another such comment to her Dad and I saw her leaving with a smile on her face - so doesn't that just say it all?!
This really is a wonderful experience for young and old alike, and I would highly recommend a visit if you're ever in the Devon area.
Once the tour was over, I was surprised to find that there was plenty more to do at Kents Cavern.
Outside Tyne had fun fossil digging through the sand boxes, painting and crafting, and even had a go at using a crossbow for target practise which he just loved!
We had a little wander through some of the Woodland trail, and then enjoyed a delicious cream tea from the cafe enjoying the lovely view.
Our day out at Kents Cavern was such a lovely change from the usual same-old days out, and we will certainly return again in future - infact I am very tempted by their regular evening Ghost Walks!!!
To find out more about Kents Cavern or book a trip, just visit www.kents-cavern.co.uk
To read more from our Devon Days Out Series, click here
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