Cheddar Gorge: A gorgeous day out in Somerset

23 February 2022

Located in the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the breath-taking Cheddar Gorge is the largest gorge in the UK and a huge draw for tourists from all over the country and beyond!

Whether you just fancy a drive through the gorge on your way through the south-west, or want to stop and explore the village at your own leisure, this article will tell you everything you need to know in order to enjoy your trip to Cheddar Gorge.

How to see Cheddar Gorge

One of the easiest ways to get a sense of the scale and beauty of Cheddar Gorge is to simply drive through it. Just start in the village and head outwards and upwards.

In 2018, the drive through the 3-mile long Cheddar Gorge was crowned Britain's most scenic drive, so don’t assume that staying in the car means you’re not getting a good experience!

One of the fabulous things about Cheddar is that you can drive through the gorge, meaning it’s easy to get a fantastic view of the towering limestone rock faces, reaching as high as 450ft tall in places.

You can enjoy the gorge at a slower pace on foot, this can be a walk through either the bottom of the gorge along the road up from the village, or take a path to the top for the views. Be careful when walking on the road as there isn’t a proper path so keep an eye out for cars.

If you’re up for a hike, there’s a circular walk going from the village and up and around the top of the gorge. It’s around 8km and steep in places, so make sure you’re wearing decent footwear.

The loop starts from Cufic Lane, just off the main road through the village, and if you don’t fancy the whole route then you can always just climb the first stage, enjoy the views and come down again. If you fancy exploring further, we like this round up of 11 walks to do in and around Cheddar Gorge.

If you want to cover a little more ground than is possible on foot, how about exploring Cheddar Gorge by bike? It’s a much loved location for cyclists, and there are lots of cycle routes from Cheddar into other parts of Somerset, including an almost entirely traffic-free 11-mile-route as far as Yatton on the Strawberry Line. 

For a truly unique view of the gorge, how about seeing it from the end of a rope? It’s a hugely popular spot with climbers, although it can be dangerous in places, so do your research and climb safely!

Wildlife in Cheddar Gorge

The gorge is home to all kinds of plant and animal life, including Peregrine falcons, buzzards, kestrels and ravens. If you spot some larger animals in the gorge they might be some of the free-roaming feral goats keeping the scrub at bay, or maybe Soay sheep - an ancient rare breed, native to Britain, that cling to the cliff edges.

Endangered greater and lesser horseshoe bats also roost in Cheddar Gorge - you can sometimes spot them at dusk as they shoot in and out of the caves.

Taste some genuine cave matured cheddar

What trip to Cheddar would be complete without tasting some locally produced cheese? The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company prides itself in being the true home of Cheddar cheese - the only Cheddar actually still made in the village of Cheddar.

All of their cheese is made with unpasteurised milk from just one local farm and some of their cheeses are even matured in the caves within Cheddar Gorge.

Located right in the heart of the village, the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company has its own shop, where you can of course do a little cheese tasting, free of charge. For just £2.50, (children are free), you can explore the visitor centre and see how the cheese is made.


Things to do near Cheddar Gorge

Explore the Cheddar Gorge caves

While there’s plenty to do for free in and around Cheddar Gorge, it may be worth splashing out a little to visit the Cheddar Gorge and Caves Experience. This involves you going inside and exploring two of Cheddar’s stunning stalactite caverns, produced by the activity of an underground river.

Gough's cave, the larger of the two, was discovered in 1903 and goes around 400 metres into the rock-face. It was here that Britain's oldest complete human skeleton, Cheddar Man, estimated to be around 9,000 years old, was found.

While Gough’s Cave can be explored in a more authentic way, the smaller Cox's Cave is now home to ‘Dreamhunters’, a multimedia experience aiming to impress with video projections and dramatic lighting.

Note: the Cheddar Gorge and Caves Experience attraction is closed to guests for the time being but fingers crossed, will open it's doors again soon (if caves had doors that is).

Go crazy at Cheddar Crazy Golf

If you’d rather stay where you can see the sunlight, we thoroughly recommend a round at Cheddar Crazy Golf. Tucked away behind a row of shops, you might not even know it was there unless you were looking for it, but it really is a hidden gem.

The course is not only lots of fun, but it’s beautifully landscaped too, with a very tranquil feel, away from the hustle and bustle of the village. It’s dog-friendly, so the whole family can enjoy the experience.

Where to park in Cheddar Gorge

Cliff Street car park just outside the village is normally a safe bet and slightly less crowded than the official Cheddar Gorge car park further into the centre.

There are also quite a few car parks roadside as you drive up through the gorge, and there are normally spaces to be had as long as you don’t mind how far up you park. There are public toilets on Station Road, Cliff Street and The Cliffs.

*Cheddar Gorge & Caves is, according to their website, reopening on April 1st 2022 after a long period of closure.

Things to do near Cheddar Gorge