A loop around the northern and southern sides if Cheddar Gorge, with spectacular views of weathered crags and pinnacles, and the surrounding region.
While the rest of the family visits Longleat and Wookey Hole on half-day trip from our accommodation near Salisbury, I’m doing a short hike around Cheddar Gorge. With a depth of 122m (just under 400ft) and a length of 4.8km (3 miles), Cheddar Gorge is England’s largest gorge. From the Cheddar Gorge and Caves Explorer Ticket Office, a long and steep set of steps – Jacobs Ladder – leads to the top of the gorge. At the top is Pavey’s Lookout Tower, which provides expansive views of the Mendips and the water meadows of the Somerset Levels. Although being a fairly overcast day, I couldn’t see much beyond the town of Cheddar and the Cheddar Reservoir.
Cheddar Gorge is surrounded by Cheddar Woods, which is home to Soay sheep, the endangered Horseshoe bat, many species of bords including peregrine falcons – and a herd of free-roaming feral goats.
The Cheddar Gorge Walk continues to ascend along the top of the gorge, with views across to the other side.
Further along the gorge, at the Castle Rock viewpoint, is another stunning view almost straight down of Cliff Road, which winds throug the bottom of the gorge.
The bushwalking path continues along the top of the gorge, continue to ascent with changing views over the sheer cliffs and back towards Cheddar to the west.
The southern side has the most impressive views; you can return the same way, or descend to Cliff Road at the eastern end of the gorge. Cross the road to return via the northern side of Cheddar Gorge.
|Location||Cheddar Gorge and Caves car park|
|Distance||5km (3.1 miles) circuit|
|Grade||Easy. 300m total ascent.|
|GPS Route||AllTrails topographical map|
|Map/s||OS Explorer map: 141: Cheddar Gorge & Mendip Hills West|
|Resources||Natural Trust – Cheddar Gorge Walk|