The limestone cliffs of Cheddar Gorge are an arresting sight. One of Somerset’s top attractions, Cheddar Gorge is the largest gorge in England and a feast for the eyes. Located in the Mendip Hills, 50 minutes away from Bath and Bristol, the spectacular gorge offers a breathtaking walk along the cliff edge, fantastic views over the Somerset countryside and a great opportunity to spot wildlife. While the entrance to Cheddar Gorge is free, you may need to pay for parking.
How to explore the spectacular Cheddar Gorge
Cheddar Gorge is England’s largest gorge at 400 feet (122m) deep and 3 miles (4.8km) long. The gorge was formed during the last Ice Age from glaciers melting and carving into the rock. Located in the heart of the Mendip Hills, Cheddar Gorge features the typical limestone of the region. The spectacular cliffs are classified an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and are a wonder to admire.
To explore Cheddar Gorge to the fullest, I would recommend following the Cheddar Gorge Cliff Top walk which takes you along the ridge of the gorge and offers breathtaking scenery. I would also suggest driving or walking through the winding valley and admiring the majestic cliffs. From the bottom of the gorge, you’re awe-struck by the imposing height and majesty of the cliffs.
Note: If you decide to walk through the valley, please be careful as there are no footpaths.
The breathtaking Cheddar Gorge Cliff Top walk
Location: Cheddar, Somerset
Walk difficulty: Moderate
Time: 1½ to 2 hours
Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km)
The Cheddar Gorge Cliff Top walk proposed by the National Trust is a circular walk along the gorge’s cliff tops. Featuring two tiring ascents to the cliff edge, this walk offers astounding views over the Somerset hills, the town of Cheddar, and in the distance, Glastonbury Tor and the Bristol Channel.
This circular walk starts off at the village of Cheddar. Following the National Trust signs to the Cheddar Gorge walk, the first section takes you up a steep path through woods. This is the first of two ascents to the top of the gorge. At the top of the climb and for the first time, but certainly not the last, you’ll enjoy splendid views over the gorge as well as of the surrounding countryside. In my opinion, you can admire the best views of the spectacular, rugged cliffs from here.
Following the grassy path, the Cheddar Gorge Cliff Top walk continues along the cliff ridge. From there, you can spot wildlife, such as hawks and goats. Look for the goats in the nooks and crannies of the cliffs, where you would not necessarily think to look! After continuing along the path and heading back down into the valley, you cross the road and begin the second and last ascent of the walk, to once again reach the top of the cliffs.
The second half of the walk along the southern ridge offers even more breathtaking views of the Somerset hills and the Bristol Channel. Even though you can enjoy splendid scenery throughout the walk, you can admire the finest views of the surrounding countryside from here. This circular walk then leads you back to the village of Cheddar and finishes at the starting point. To view the walk itinerary, please visit nationaltrust.org.uk.
Near Cheddar Gorge: Sights to visit
The village of Cheddar
While in Cheddar Gorge, you can visit the village of Cheddar. Although a fairly large village, Cheddar features charming streets and stone cottages typical of Somerset villages. I did, however, find that the village was very touristy. As such, I wouldn’t recommend spending much time in Cheddar, except for a pit stop.
The striking Mendip Hills
The Mendip Hills are a delight to explore. Classified an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Mendip Hills provide the perfect escape to rolling hills and splendid scenery. The best way to discover this stunning region is to drive through the winding country roads, stop at the charming villages and walk along the breathtaking country lanes.
A stunning walk I would highly recommend in the Mendip Hills is the Crook Peak walk. Located 20 minutes away from Cheddar, Crook Peak offers spectacular views over the Mendip Hills, the Somerset Levels, the Bristol Channel, North Devon and South Wales. Explore the rocky peaks and grassy ridges of the Mendips with the Crook Peak walk guide by A Dragon’s Escape.
The splendid city of Wells
Located 20 minutes away from Cheddar and to the south of the Mendip Hills, the charming city of Wells is a delight to explore. Wells offers arresting architecture, picturesque streets and cottages, and striking countryside. The top attractions to visit are the magnificent Wells Cathedral, the delightful Bishop’s Palace and the enchanting Vicar’s Close. For more information, visit the Best of Wells guide by A Dragon’s Escape.
Cheddar Gorge Cliff Top walk details
Location: Cheddar, Somerset
Time: Approximately 1 ½ to 2 hours with regular stops
Distance: 4 miles (6.4km)
Ascent: Somewhat steep
Itinerary: Cheddar Gorge walk
Trail condition: Good, but the trail can get muddy in wet weather
Accessibility: Not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs
Parking: Car parks available in Cheddar
Facilities: Toilets, shops and pubs available in Cheddar
Notes: Please be mindful of livestock, keep your dogs on a lead and be careful at the cliff edge
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Featured image: Cheddar Gorge with its breathtaking views
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