travel
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Exploring Cheddar Gorge, Somerset

I am WOEFULLY behind on my blog at the moment. And I mean, woefully. Work has been incredibly busy and my whole summer was booked up with wonderful weddings and hen dos. Tim and I managed to pair some of the weddings with a few short holidays here and there to explore the surrounding areas, rather than rushing straight back to London for work.

One of the weddings was over the Summer bank holiday near the gorgeous city of Bath, so we decided to spend a couple of days exploring Somerset. Despite both of us having lived in Devon for a number of years, and with family in Wiltshire, we hadn’t got around to seeing much of Somerset yet. But now we have a car, we wanted to change that.

We stayed at the White Hart Inn in Somerton, essentially a pub and restaurant with rooms. I’m always a little cautious about booking ‘pub’ hotels but this was on Mr & Mrs Smith, which is usually an indicator of a good, quality hotel. Our bedroom and bathroom was lovely, with a comfy bed and Bramley products in the bathroom which I’m quite frankly obsessed with. If you haven’t tried them before, you should check them out – as I wrote in a previous blog post, the first time I had a shower using them, I pretty much re-enacted the old Herbal Essences ads!

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The only downside of our room was that it was incredibly hot, without aircon or a fan. We soon realised we were right above the kitchen and both the heat (and smell) was absorbing into our room. It was a pretty toasty bank holiday and the problem with opening our window was that it overlooked the beer garden at the back of the pub. On a bank holiday weekend. Maybe we didn’t think this through properly. All in all though, it really wasn’t a big deal. It was a minor niggle in a really lovely stay, and the food and drink was very good indeed! I didn’t get many snaps because the restaurant was very dimly (and nicely!) candle-lit in the evening. It also boasted a big gin and tonic/cordial collection.

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Our day at Cheddar Gorge was really good fun. Cheddar is a parish in Somerset known throughout the world as the origin of Cheddar Cheese, which has been produced there since the 12th Century and to this day is still stored in the Cheddar Caves to mature. It’s also home to the infamous Cheddar Gorge (and the caves beneath!), 400ft deep and 3 miles long!

Here’s a tip, if you’re planning on visiting Cheddar Gorge, make sure to get there early! There’s virtually no parking in the centre, but there are small ticketed car parks just off the road around the winding gorge. Once these are gone though, it’s every man for himself, and people were desperately trying to park on corners around the gorge. We were fortunate to get there just in time, so we parked up and headed to the centre.

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We bought a day ticket for £20 each which gave us entry into all of the attractions, and the first place we explored was Gough’s Cave (I knew there was cave aged cheddar inside, so my cheesey senses were tingling!). Excavated in the late nineteenth century, it’s widely considered to be one of the finest in the country. The formation of this cave began over half a million years ago, when river water started dissolving the limestone rock. The resulting cathedral-like caverns are decorated with incredible rock formations.

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And I got to see the cheddar being aged, as well as having a cheeky sample (from a man handing it out, I didn’t clamber over the barriers and help myself!), but this was clearly not enough and I ended up buying a whole truckle, and a rather lovely cheese/butter dish.

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Next, we decided to do the Clifftop Walk, a 3 mile route, elevated over 900ft above sea-level, and you can see for miles out across the Mendip Hills. You start off at Jacob’s Ladder,  274 steps to get up to the top of the cliffs.

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This wasn’t too challenging as there were a few stops on the way up, each with a bench or seat where you could catch your breath and do a bit of nature watching, but it might be a bit tricky for people with health difficulties – worth doing a bit of research beforehand if this is a concern. At the top, we continued our ascent up around the top of the gorge and made our way around. This is where we had a bit of a faux pas. Plenty of people had stopped and were admiring the view, some were having picnics. Indeed, we stopped a little while to enjoy it, before continuing along for the rest of the walk and to enjoy the rest of the view en route. Little did we know, that WAS the view. Shortly afterwards we found ourselves in woodland for the rest of the walk until we reached the main road. So, my biggest piece of advice would be to make sure you stop and fully appreciate the view at this point, because it’s definitely the peak spot. Looking at Cheddar Gorge’s Instagram page, this is the part of the walk they always seem to focus on – there’s not a huge amount to see after that/ We decided to do the rest of the walk at the bottom of the gorge to see it from another perspective, and this was lots of fun with absolutely stunning surroundings.

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We stopped for a Ploughmans (with cave aged cheddar, of course) in a little café in the centre of Cheddar, before visiting ‘Dreamhunters: The Adventures of Early Man’. Set deep within the magical and mysterious chambers of Cox’s Cave, Dreamhunters uses state of the art projectors, sound systems and lighting see the life of early man projected and brought to life on the very walls of Cox’s Cave.

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This was super artistic and cleverly done. Hearing the stories of the cavemen quite literally set against the ancient rock was wonderful!

If you’re thinking of visiting Cheddar Gorge, you can find out more on their website here. If you have kids then there are even more activities you can take advantage of, such as the Prehistoric Museum (where your little ones can even dress up as cavemen!) and Wookey Hole caves.

2 Comments

  1. We visited Bath in March and when I was looking at day trips, I was seriously considering Cheddar Gorge! We ended up visiting Castle Combe but I’d love to head back just to have a Ploughman’s lunch near Cheddar Gorge too! Also – you can’t beat a Mr & Mrs Smith hotel!

    Marianna @ http://www.brewandbloom.blog

    Like

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