This overhang in the limestone rack face was a significant swift nesting site. Out of harvesting season, there was no one working on this day. Bird’s nest harvesting is a regulated industry and there were signs above the jetty here warning trespassers off. All the bamboo poles you can see here are used by the harvesters to reach the rock ceiling where the swifts build their nests. There’s no way I could have presented this approach to scaling the rock wall to my bosses or my clients as being ‘safe’. Looking again at this, I wonder how many workers have slipped or fallen in the harvesting process.
At school, I was a member of our caving (spelunking) club. We’d go off to the Mendips after school and scrabble around the caves and caverns there. This photo is the first time I’d seen stalactites outside a cave. The oranges and yellows are formed by mineral salts as water percolates down through the fissures in the rocks. Formed over thousands of years, I suspect that these were once inside a cave but that the rock face cleaved away to expose the cave and stalactites to the outside world.