As level three heatwave warnings hit the South West one place where people can guarantee to keep cool is under the Mendip Hills in Wookey Hole Caves.
Britain’s largest and most beautiful showcaves maintain a constant temperature of 11 degrees Centigrade all year round and have been used since prehistoric times by people to cool themselves down. Cave owners have reacted in the prolonged heatwave to demands from the public to linger longer in the caverns.
Guides who take people through the limestone chambers have been instructed to increase the length of time people spend underground – so they can get a break from the sweltering heat. The tours have been rescheduled so that more people are underground at any one time, allowing more time in the caverns without increasing waiting times outside.
Cave manager Daniel Medley said: “Because of the water from the River Axe that forms mirror-smooth pools in the caves the temperature feels even cooler than 11 degrees. It is the perfect temperature for maturing cheese, which most people keep in their fridge at home.
“Usually in the summer people are happy to leave the caves and enjoy the fairy garden and valley of the dinosaurs and all our other attractions. The last few weeks people just want to stay in the cool of the caves and enjoy some respite from the heat.
“We always believe in giving people what they want so we have changed the schedule for a slightly more leisurely tour of the caves. But then we try to entice them out by mentioning the ice creams available at our restaurant!”
Wookey Hole Caves is open every day for anyone who wants to instantly cool off.