If you are looking for your next free family adventure then Cheddar Gorge could be the perfect nature reserve for you… Cheddar Gorge Walks entail cathedral sized caves, caverns, cliffside walks, reservoirs, Mendip Hills and Jacob’s Ladder. Ready to take on the challenge? Get your hiking boots ready and prepare yourself for some incredible views!
Carved out by glacial meltwater during the last ice age, Cheddar Gorge is a series of limestone cliffs formed from England’s deepest natural canyon and largest gorge. In places the gorge towers 138 m above the twisting B3135. The gorge is riddled with subterranean caverns with impressive displays of stalactites and stalagmites.
Cheddar Gorge Caves
Home to a beautiful mosaic landscape, along with two of Britain’s oldest showcaves, this is England’s largest gorge. With spectacular Pinnacles and beautiful caves, it truly is a natural gem just waiting to be discovered.
Ready for the mother of all adventures? Get ready to explore the mysterious chambers that date back to over 500,000 years old… Explore secret caverns, see the ancient elders’ meeting chamber, and prepare to be amazed at the incredible vistas created by stalagmites and stalactites!
Audio guides are available to help bring the cave to life; telling the amazing story of its Ice Age creation, Stone Age occupation, and Victorian exploration! Not to mention the fascinating history of the Cheddar Man and the discovery of his complete skeleton.
With atmospheric lighting and illusions of glacial landscapes too it’s the must see immersive experience at the gorge! Psst, dogs can visit the caves too!
Cave Adventure Activities
Did you know you can go rock climbing outside the Cheddar Gorge Caves? Cling on to all of the rugged crags as you climb each of the awe-inspiring cliff faces. Each cliff is a 450-foot vertical drop… But you won’t be climbing this high don’t worry! Follow your inspirational instructors as they literally show you the ropes of rock climbing. You’ll start your climbing activity on 50ft high outdoor climbing walls and ascend back down again. You do have to pay for this activity unlike the other attractions in Cheddar Gorge.
What is Jacobs Ladder, I hear you ask? It’s name comes from a story in the Bible, referencing a staircase between the Earth and Heaven. The Jacob’s Ladder at Cheddar Gorge is known for its hefty 274 steps – which you’ll need to climb to get to the top… Once at the top you reach the lookout tower and the cliff top gorge walk. Here, you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views of the Mendips and beyond… it’s one of the best Cheddar Gorge Walks you can embark on.
Jacobs Ladder takes around 15 minutes to complete. Although the climb up is steep, you needn’t worry as there are 4 strategically placed breaks in the steps where you can stop and catch your breath and rest your legs. Afterall, your little ones might have bundles of energy but even their little legs will need a break during this challenging walk.
DISCLAIMER: Jacobs Ladder and the Lookout Tower are not suitable for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility or individuals who have low physical fitness.
Cliff Top Walk
Looking for some dramatic cliff views? This 4-mile (6km) walk consists of fantastic views overlooking Cheddar village, Cheddar Reservoir and as far as Glastonbury Tor! If you come to the gorge via car, you would start this trail at the Black Rock car park (In the Mendips AONB). If you came without a car, the best place to start this walk is in Cheddar Village.
The route is a circular route with rocky and grassy paths as well as steep cliffs. There is a road and some steps too on this trail. It’s highest point is about 250 m and it takes around 1-2 hours to complete.
As you climb the steep path, you’ll realise how uneven and muddy the terrain can be. So it’s always best to wear hiking boots or trainers with lots of grip as well as comfort. The cliff top walk is a great choice for hiking as you will be reward with amazing cliff edge views.
Cheddar Reservoir is a perfect place for your furry friends too as it is the idyllic spot for a dog walk. People love walking around the Cheddar Reservoir as it has amazing views and a calming effect from the water. The large reservoir lies between Axbridge and Cheddar and will take you just over an hour to complete. This 105-hectare circular artificial reservoir is also great for fishing, boating & birdwatching!
As beautiful as the water is, do not ever swim in there. Swimming is dangerous as there is hidden machinery within the reservoir that is designed to suck water in which can prove fatal. So it goes without saying to always be careful around the reservoir.
The Mendips have been declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) due to its unique wildlife and geology. Made up of limestone, they contain impressive cave systems including at Wookey Hole and in Cheddar Gorge. The hills are 800 ft tall which makes it one of the many great Cheddar Gorge Walks for families to try out.
Wildlife at Cheddar Gorge
Cheddar Gorge is famous for its herd of feral goats, but this National Trust site has lots more fascinating wildlife to discover.
The feral goats are great for keeping the shrubs trimmed and neat – what a great workforce right? You will most likely see this wild fluffy creatures roaming the hills and jagged rock edges.
Keep your eyes peeled for the Soay Sheep. These nimble Nelly’s are actually indigenous to Britain, making them a rare and ancient breed. You can find them roaming the rolling hills too!
There are also endangered species that seek a haven in Cheddar Gorge like the Horseshoe Bats. These beautiful creatures roost in the gorge caves. If you are hiking around dusk, you’ll see them flutter around the caves.
Are you more of a bird lover? Have a competition with the kids to see who can spot the most species of bird in the gorge. Need an idea of what to search for? There are Peregrine falcons, buzzards, kestrels and ravens too. Let’s not forget about the noisier residents like jackdaws! Did you know the Peregrine falcon is the world’s fastest bird in flight?
As for the nature itself, the plant life at Cheddar Gorge is wild, diverse and impressive! Check out the famous Cheddar pink and other rare plants, like rock stonecrop, grow on the cliff edges. Look out for the rock rose and herbs such as thyme, wild basil and marjoram on the lower slopes. In hot weather you’re likely to smell them before you spot them!
You may have seen cheddar Village from the magnificent heights of your Cheddar Gorge Walks. Whether you started your hike from the village centre or plan to end your travels there, there’s lots to see and explore here too.
Finish off your day with some afternoon teas in the Lion Rock Tea Rooms. Trading since 1908, You can’t miss this little traditional Blue cottage. Nestle together in its quaint tea rooms or head up to the roof garden and watch the day go by. It serves delicious british bites, baked goods and a variety of teas. The tea room houses hikers with wood burners and open fires in the Winter and open gardens in the Summer. Sounds pretty charming right?
Looking for a staycation? There’s lots of traditional Inn’s, bed & breakfasts, restaurants and other things to enjoy in the town to visit after you’ve ticked off all your Cheddar Gorge Walks. If you looking for any holiday cottages or short breaks near Somerset make sure to check out our travel page.
Found this blog helpful? We hope you found at least one of the Cheddar Gorge Walks to your liking! If you are looking for things to do near Cheddar Gorge or in Somerset & Bristol check out our latest blogs on the hub! If you are thinking of other regions to plan your next walk then feel free to check out our Walks Near Me blog – it’s packed full of beautiful landscapes, terrific trails, and outdoor activities!