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Time Off: Cool ways you can have fun on holiday; Ken Bennett explores caves, gorges and mines.

Byline: Ken Bennett

FOR many holidaymakers, the hot weather causes real problems as they try to cope with the all-pervading heat.

But, with the help of Visit Britain, the new name for England's Tourist Council, I have come up with some alternative places and ideas to keep you cool.

Let's start in the north which, many would claim, is by nature slightly colder than many southern counterparts.

Keen walkers can chill out in Little Switzerland, the fascinating How Stean Gorge at Pateley Bridge on the outskirts of the fashionable North Yorkshire town of Harrogate.

Here you can enjoy a cool walk along narrow paths and footbridges spanning a ravine 80ft deep in some places.

Take a torch and head down a flight of narrow steps from the gorge to spend a calming, chilling time among dripping stalactites.

Push further into the Yorkshire Dales and you'll find Forbidden Corner, a labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises in and under a four-acre garden on the Tupgill Park estate, near Middlesham.

There is the intriguing Temple of the Underworld and Eye of the Needle, a pyramid of shimmering translucent glass -- plus a host of extraordinary statues and paths which lead nowhere but could maddeningly send your temperatures soaring.

Or travel to the Lake District to visit England's only slate mine, the Buttermere and Westmorland Green Slate Company.

Nestling between peaks at the head of the Honister Pass, the slate mine offers a chance to see how the green slate is extracted from 11 miles of tunnels in an entirely environmentally-friendly environment.

You could chill out in the Hell Fire Caves 300ft below the National Trust village of West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire.

The amazing network, which once hosted meetings of the notorious Hell Fire Club, was originally excavated on the site of an ancient quarry in the 1750s.

And they are promising visitors a really cool reception during Halloween with all sorts of exciting happenings in a huge banqueting hall dug out by unemployed farm workers.

Or take a trip to Dover and discover the Secret Wartime Tunnels built into the famous White Cliffs.

The tunnels were first made in the Napoleonic Wars, when seven were dug as barracks to hold up to 2, 000 troops.

The tunnels saw active service again in World War II as an underground hospital and played a significant part in the evacuation of Dunkirk.

You could also happily do some shivering at the famous Cheddar Caves in Somerset. Led by a qualified caving expert, tourists are escorted through a system of ``wild'' caves beyond the well-lit caverns of Gough's Cave.

The trip starts with a fine show cave then a crawl, complete with hardhat, from the Mushroom Chamber to the Sand Chamber before taking a lifeline down a 40ft steel ladder to Boulder Chamber.

And if that isn't cool enough, you then climb up to the Far Rift, through the appropriately named April Fool's Squeeze before being clipped on to a wire for the traverse crawl over the Bottomless Pit.

The journey lasts one hour and a half, and certainly makes for a different kind of cool day out!

If you want to avoid the Cold War, the Hack Green secret nuclear bunker near Nantwich, Cheshire has the rather bizarre answer.

The semi-submerged bunker, is complete with decontamination dormitory, sick bay, early warning systems and BBC studio.

The bunker was built to help protect the nation from the Soviet threat of both conventional and nuclear war.

There is a host of displays, including radar technology and even Soviet equipment and kiddies can follow a special secret ``spy trail''.

Entry is pounds 5. 80 per adult, pounds 4 child and a family ticket pounds 18.

One of my favourite cooling off options is Blackpool Pleasure Beach's Valhalla, the world's largest water-based dark ride.

Here you experience temperature extremes from raging infernos to real snow at minus 20 degrees Celsius. And if that's not enough, feel the wind in your hair on The Big One, Europe's tallest and fastest roller coaster that reaches a spine-chilling 85 mph on a 265-foot drop.

That's what I call really cool!

Fact File

Forbidden Corner: 01969 640638 or yorkshirenet. co. uk/The Buttermere and Westmorland Green Slate Company orHell Fire Caves: Call 01494 533739 or www. hellfirecaves. co. ukCheddar Caves: 01934 742343 or www. cheddarcaves. co. uk/Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker: 01270 629219 or

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SHADOWLANDS: Chill out this summer along the White Cliffs of Dover
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 17, 2004
Words:745
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