Cheddar Gorge, UK – Hikes, Caves and Cheese!
Another Nature-Find this week and what a find it is! Cheddar Gorge is just a short drive from Bristol so it is great for a day trip. The village is full of history, from the formation of the Gorge, to the creation of Cheddar Cheese; it is a delightful place, full of stories to tell.
Nature of Cheddar Gorge
Cheddar Gorge was carved out by the floods that followed the ice age. It is Britain’s largest gorge so it is a must see if you are visiting the West of England. There is a hiking route stretching 3 miles that goes right up to the top of the gorge and you can see right down into the village and even as far as the surrounding towns on a clear day. The rock formations are a brilliant sight and with the mountain goats, and wild flowers, it’s a peaceful nature walk. The goats seem to talk back if you bleet at them too! Take a picnic and plenty of water if you want time to take it all in.
The caves were my favourite part of this trip. The limestone formations are incredible to see, and they have been lit to highlight their beauty. You can imagine shapes in the formations, as you can see below, it looks like tree roots searching for anchor. It’s a totally different feel to being out in the open on the top of the Gorge and it feels almost magical.
History of Cheddar Gorge
You can’t visit Cheddar without hearing about Cheddar man! Britain’s oldest complete skeleton was found in Gough’s cave, and it is estimated to be over 9,000 years old. The discovery of Cheddar Man, and many other skeletal remains, suggests that people lived in the caves around the Stone Age. Much of the caves we see today, were excavated by Richard Gough, and he lived in Lion House just opposite the entrance to the caves. Lion House is now home to an exhibition holding artefacts that have been found in the caves.
Cheddar Cheese received it’s name from the very town it was created in. Cave aged Cheddar is the best as it is stored in the cool environment of the surrounding caves which is perfect for maturing the cheese. Be sure to try some with some chutney!
Visiting Cheddar Gorge
For most of the attractions at Cheddar you can book in advance online at a reduced cost. However, you can simply turn up and buy your tickets from the entrance at Gough’s cave. The ticket price covers numerous activities including entrance to the hiking trail, caves and exhibition.
The hike around the Gorge takes around 1.5 hours to complete, but remember to leave more time if you want to take pictures and a picnic. The steps up at the start of the trail are pretty steep but there are a few stop points with a bench along the way. You are rewarded when you get there with the lookout tower, which gives stunning views across the British Countryside.
Caving and Climbing
The caves have something for everyone! The main attraction is Gough’s Cave where you are provided with an audio guide. There are different ones for adults and children and you can choose to skip parts if you wish. We listened to the long guide which took around an hour, and we really geeked out on all the fun facts! For the more adventurous visitors, you can book an extended caving experience which takes you deeper into the cave.
Cox cave is a smaller interactive experience, perfect for the little ones! Here they tell a story through projections onto the walls around you, and it is a truly immersive experience. Dogs are also allowed so it’s a fun experience for the whole family!
You can climb the Gorge rock face too but you must have a permit to do so or you can book an instructor led session in advance.
Don’t forget to have some Cheddar in Cheddar! There are plenty of little cafe’s and shops selling Cave Aged Cheddar so make sure you don’t miss out. We had some gorgeous bread, cheese and chutney in the Tea Garden, which has a lovely stream running down from the gorge.
Quick facts about this Find:
– Cheddar Man was discovered in Gough’s Cave and is Britain’s oldest complete skeleton. It is estimated to be over 9,000 years old.
– Cheddar Gorge is a short drive from Bristol so make sure to take a day trip if you’re visiting the area.
– Cheddar is the home of Cheddar Cheese!
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If you liked this then take a look at Durdle Door on the South Coast of England!