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The Cheddar Gorge and Caves

Cheddar Gorge lies on the edge of the Mendip Hills in Somerset and is the largest gorge in the UK. It is situated about 20 miles south west of Bristol between Weston-Super-Mare and Shepton Mallet along the A371, via the B3135, up Cliff Road and into the gorge. Parking is easy in winter and the gorge is within walking distance. Cheddar is famous for its cheese, strawberries, cream teas and is a major tourist attraction. The magnificent limestone gorge and caves are home to many rare species. There are spectacular walks around the Mendips, cycle tracks and climbing.

Gough’s cave, leading to the Diamond Chamber and Solomon's Temple, is the largest of the caves and was discovered in 1890 by sea captain Richard Gough. The exhibition explains how the cave was carved out over a million years by ice age meltwaters. Cheddar Man is Britain's oldest complete skeleton. Visitors can discover how mankind managed to survive ice ages, famines and predators. Our ancestors liked to eat people, Gough's Cave is Britain's first cannibal site. Cox’s cave is small with narrow, winding passages with beautiful colours and mirror pools. It was discovered by mill-owner George Cox in 1837 by one of his workmen collecting rocks for a new building. Follow the Crystal quest: an adventure with wizards, goblins, fairy princesses and a smoke-breathing dragon, created by magician Rowland Pavey.

Jacobs Ladder with its 274 steps takes visitors on a journey through the ice ages from the bottom of Britain's biggest gorge to the top where Pavey’s Lookout Tower gives wonderful views across to Exmoor and the Mendip Hills, Somerset Levels and Glastonbury Tor. Don’t forget your camera! The cliff top gorge walk is a 3-mile circular route marked out for walkers to explore the 300-acre estate, returning through National Trust land across the Gorge. Visitors can picnic above the Pinnacles, Britain's highest inland cliffs where Peregrine Falcons nest.

Climbing is allowed all year on Arch Rock and Stepped Wall. However elsewhere climbing is only allowed in the winter and there are several excellent climbs leading to marvellous views. There is also a camp site open for most of November at the top end of the gorge. There are two ways back down from the top of the climbs but the easiest is go straight up, find the tourist path which leads west and down the Jacobs Ladder steps.

The Caves and Gorge Explorer Ticket covers all attractions: Gough’s Cave, Cheddar Man and the Cannibals, Cox’s Cave, the Crystal Quest, Jacob’s Ladder, Pavey’s Lookout Tower, the Gorge Walk and in the summer the excellent Open Top Bus Tour. There are special concessions for groups of 20 or more. There are also excellent services for School Groups with bookable Coach Park, Guided Tour of Gough's Cave, Covered Picnic Area and Specialist Lectures with Fact Sheets available. Supervised beginners sessions in Caving are available. There is also Climbing and Abseiling on the 50-foot abseil pitch in Cheddar Gorge with sessions every day, lasting up to 1½ hours. Specialist equipment is available, booking is recommended and age and height restrictions apply.

The excellent Open Top Gorge Tour Bus operates between March and October and allows you to see Cheddar Gorge from an entirely different perspective with the trip taking visitors through 'the narrows' at Horseshoe Bend.



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