It's apparently the most popular of the four caves in the nearby area that is open to the public. I'm not entirely sure why, as Speedwell has underwater boats which makes it pretty cool in my book. My book by the way is the "Book Of Caves With Underwater Boats". It's ten English pounds in hardback, but as a special offer for you lovely readers, I'll send you a signed copy for twenty quid.
I'm always surprised that there aren't more deaths and tragic maimings in these caves, as the safety precautions to stop you falling down the stairs are usually minimal. The stairs and slopes are invariably steep, slippy, uneven, dark and still slippy. Half the people in there seem to have come in inappropriate footwear - sandals, flip-flops, even the odd pair of high heels. These people are Dicing With Death. I always find it hard going wearing boots, but maybe that's because being tall I have to spend extra concentration on not banging my head on the low ceilings. Rock hurts if you headbutt it.
Blue John Cavern doesn't actually have all that much to see in it. There are no truly spectacular rooms, bottomless drops or interesting stalacmites that look like animals if you catch them from the right angle, in the right light, it's a Thursday and you have a truly stupendous imagination. It does however have "Balancing Rock". It's a big rock, kind of slightly balancing on some other rocks. But is probably completely stable and hasn't moved for thousands of years.
The lack of daftly named formations does at least spare us having to waste brain power trying to reconcile the name to the rock eg "Mr T", "Papa Smurf" or "Deceased Gerbil". Proof if ever it was needed of the madness of the Victorians.
This one over here. People say to me, "Mick - it doesn't look like anything at all". But when I look at it I seem to see a little pair of hands clutching at a slippery wet rope. Sliding down, down into the dark water. Sometimes I'll stand here for hours. Just looking at it.
Michael Buerk did say to me, "Mick, you can't go blaming yourself, it wasn't your fault." But I don't know. Young kiddie like that. Whole life ahead of him. "School Trip Tragedy: Local Man Blamed". Every day the same. Parades of blank faces. The constant drip-drip drom the cavern roof. The cold indifference of the ancient rock, But you keep going, don't you?
It's like the moss growing round that lightbulb there. Life finds a way. Remember the guide on your way out. Thank you.
- The League of Gentlemen