Cheddar Gorge is not only one of the area’s most spectacular natural landmarks but is also an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The Gorge is home to awe-inspiring cliffs and subterranean stalactite show caves. Aside from being key to our prehistoric ancestors, it’s also an international centre for caving and rock climbing.
So what is the Cheddar Gorge and what can you do there?
What is Cheddar Gorge?
Cheddar Gorge is Britain’s largest limestone gorge with dramatic cliffs over 450 feet. Although many people believe Cheddar Gorge is a collapsed cavern, it’s actually a gorge cut by a surface river and has since been left dry as drainage went underground.
With its weathered crags and pinnacles, it’s one of England’s most stunning natural sights. This gorge would have started forming over one million years ago, during the last Ice Age. It was created when water from melting glaciers started to form a river, which over time was carved into the limestone rock. This created the steep cliffs you now see. The Cheddar Yeo River slowly made its way underground, creating the internationally known Cheddar Caves.
Things to Do at Cheddar Gorge & Caves
Explore The 500,000-year-old Gough’s Cave
Gough’s Cave is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cheddar. The cave is 115 m deep and 3.405 km long and home to a range of large chambers and rock formations. New and improved lighting has recently been added allowing you to see the cave in its full glory.
Gough’s Cave is famous for being the earliest evidence of human activity, dating from around 400,000 to 10,000 years ago. It also contains the Cheddar Yeo, the largest underground river system in Britain.
Visit The Museum of Prehistory
Visit the Museum of Prehistory to learn more about how our ancestors survived the Ice Age. Re-imagined in 2016, this museum tells the story of the 40,000-year struggle for survival through excavations and fun yet informative exhibits. In peak times knowledgeable guides will talk you through the museum as well as showcase how prehistorical people lived.
Adventure Activities Around Cheddar Gorge
Nestled in the picturesque English countryside, Cheddar Gorge offers a captivating playground for adventure enthusiasts. With its dramatic limestone cliffs and enchanting landscapes, this natural wonder invites thrill-seekers to embark on a variety of exhilarating activities. Whether it’s scaling the rugged rock faces under the guidance of experienced climbers, traversing the challenging terrain through guided caving expeditions that unveil hidden underground marvels, or exploring the meandering trails on mountain bikes, there’s no shortage of excitement.
For those seeking an adrenaline rush from a different angle, tandem skydiving provides breathtaking views of the gorge’s beauty from high above. From the heart-pounding to the awe-inspiring, Cheddar Gorge promises unforgettable adventures that harmonise with the splendor of the great outdoors.
The Best Cheddar Gorge Walks To Enjoy
Cheddar Gorge is one of the most beautiful places to explore in England and what’s a better way to get around than by foot? Enjoy exciting trails, curious caves, clifftop views and the best of Somerset nature.
Cheddar Gorge Clifftop Walk
The clifftop walk is one of the most iconic and popular walking routes in Cheddar Gorge. This circular three-mile route can be accessed via Jacob’s ladder and will take you to the top of the Gorge.
Enjoy panoramic views over the rolling Mendip Hills, Somerset Levels, and the village of Cheddar itself. This walk is pretty steady, passing an ancient cave on your way.
Jacob’s ladder is a taxing but rewarding walk where you ascend 900ft above sea level. Once you have reached the top, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the gorge, across the winding roads and the Mendip hills.
Be warned, this is quite an exerting hike as the first half is uphill. There is also rough terrain to deal with, so make sure you have the right shoes on! There is a steep 274-step staircase leading to the top of the gorge. When you are up the top, you can also climb a lookout tower for an even better view.
Black Down Walk
The Black Down is the highest point of the Mendip Hills. This walk overlaps the Cheddar Gorge so we recommend you choose this on the clifftop walk. This moderate walk will take you along the heath where you will see Bronze Age burial mounds.
The Strawberry Line is part of the national cycle network. It is a traffic-free biking and walking trail that spans from Yatton to about a mile past Cheddar.
You can rent a bike in Cheddar to cycle the route or choose to walk this area. Because this path is largely flat, it’s accessible for the whole family including pushchair or wheelchair users.
Cheddar Reservoir Walk
The Cheddar Reservoir is a gentle and accessible circular walk that starts in Central Cheddar. Ideal for all ability levels, including pushchairs and wheelchairs, take a walk along a tarmac surface and around the manmade Cheddar Reservoir.
Draycott Sleights Walk
Draycott Sleights is a 60+ hectare area Site of Specific Scientific Interest. This walk starts in Draycott, a 10-minute drive from Cheddar or you can start the walk in Cheddar, adding 50 minutes to the journey.
Follow the track marked West Mendip Way into the nature reserve, where you’ll explore a wide grassland and natural caves, ideal for spotting local wildlife.
Explore The Mendip Hills
When visiting Cheddar Gorge, you should explore the surrounding areas. Cheddar Gorge sits on the edge of the beautiful Mendip Hills and is officially recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England.
Try the Famous Cheddar Gorge Cheese
Cheddar Gorge is famous for its locally made cheese, which they have been making for centuries. The caves in Cheddar have the ideal humidity and steady temperature for maturing the cheese, which is why the area has become synonymous with the product.
Visit the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, a family-owned, independent small artisan cheesemaker, to learn all about the cheese-making process. You take self-guided tours through the company, where you can see the cheese manufacturing process, sample their cheeses and take some home.
You will find lots of shops in the area that sell this locally-made type of cheese as well as pickles and cider, two other food items that the area is well-known for.
Visit The Oakhouse Somerset and try our regional cheeses alongside our popular charcuterie board. Somerset Charcuterie, located just a few miles from The Oakhouse, provide us with the best, award-winning, local produce from the region for you to try out.
When To Visit The Cheddar Gorge
Cheddar Gorge is a stunning landscape all year round but it is especially stunning during the summer season. If you can catch the UK during a spell of good weather, you can expect to get the best experience at Cheddar Gorge.
If you can visit on a weekday, or outside of school holidays, then we recommend it. Enjoy photo opportunities of rolling countryside views without lots of people in the frame and peacefully hike through the area.
Are you Planning a Holiday to Visit Cheddar Gorge?
After a long day exploring Cheddar Gorge and the surrounding caves, take the weight off with a stay at The Oakhouse Hotel. We offer 5* accommodation in Axbridge, just 3 miles northwest of Cheddar. We also offer beautiful spaces for private hire events including weddings.