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      18.10.2011 12:17
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      A simply perfect day out

      I recently reviewed Weston-Super-Mare, which is a place I have enjoyed visiting ever since my childhood. Located some 10 miles from Weston is Cheddar, which can be described as unique and simply breathtaking due to the fact that it boasts Britain's largest gorge as well as the largest underground river in the country, which is situated in one of the caves. Words cannot describe the sites I have witnessed in Cheddar and I hope that my review will go some way in advising of my experience in visiting this picturesque and adorable village. ~~ A LITTLE HISTORY ABOUT CHEDDAR ~~ Before I begin talking about my memorable visits to this pretty town I'd like to briefly touch on its' history. I learned something extremely interesting on the Cheddar Village website and that is that in 1130 AD the stunning Gorge, which are Britain's highest inland limestone cliffs, was known as one of the Four Wonders of England. Cheddar is of course, famous for its' delicious cheese, which has been in production since 1170 AD. It was during the 17th and 18th centuries that Cheddar began to grind corn with its' watermills and commence the production of paper. I further learned that extensive clothing was produced during the Victorian period. I found it extremely fascinating researching the history of this quaint little village, particularly as I have visited time and time again and never really thought about it. The village began its' popularity during 1869/1870 due to the construction of the railway, which was affectionately known as The Strawberry Line, as it passed fields full of delicious strawberries. The construction of the railway brought considerable tourism into the area and enabled the mouth watering fruits to be transported throughout the country, but sadly ceased in operational in 1965. Fields are full of strawberries to this very day and can be purchased on the side of the road within the village and nearby villages. Whilst The Strawberry Line no longer carries trains, you are able to take a walk and witness the sights that it used to pass. ~~ WHAT IS THERE TO SEE AND DO IN CHEDDAR? ~~ Whilst I would not describe the village as huge I would advise that there are so many different tourist attractions on offer; all of which we have visited on numerous occasions although there is one that I will never visit again and will explain further on in my review. I'll begin with our journey into Cheddar, which is always made my car during the Spring/Summer and Autumn months. The words that perfectly describe Cheddar are quaint and tranquil, as whilst it is always busy there seems to be a real sense of calmness amongst the visitors with nobody rushing around, as everyone always seems to be walking slowly and enjoying the sense of relaxation and beautiful sights that lay before them. As car parking can become quite problematic in Cheddar, which I will later discuss, we always decide to initially drive up the Gorge so that we can park our car quickly and enjoy the remainder of the attractions on foot. I would point out here that tours to the Gorge are available on an open top double decker bus (when it is not raining) and it leaves the centre of the village at regular intervals; the prices of which I will provide at the end of my review. However, whilst we enjoyed the bus trip (which if my memory serves me correctly, takes about twenty minutes) we prefer to use our own car to enable us to stop when we want and capture some precious images without having to dodge somebody's head! The bonus of travelling on the bus is that you are provided with a guided commentary for the length of your journey. However, I would advise that the buses have a steep step, so are not suitable for anyone in a wheelchair and could be somewhat difficult for those with mobility problems. Transcripts of the commentary are available for those with hearing difficulties. Our car journey takes us directly through the small village and past all of the attractions, eating places and gift shops when the road starts to slightly narrow and considerably steepen. Initially there is very little to see, as to the left and right hand sides are simply rocks, but as we continue to drive we will soon witness the most spectacular and breathtaking views that have to be seen to be believed. Sites of real interest on the journey through the prehistoric river bed will take us past millponds, which are home to colonies of water voles. The road begins to twist and turn as it reaches Horseshoe Bed, so it is advisable to keep to a reasonable speed and not overtake. The road is marked with double yellow lines on both sides, but there are a few pull ins where we can stop our car to enable us to step outside and capture a few fabulous shots. The Gorge is one of the most famous places in England for climbers and on each occasion that we have visited we have witnessed a number of people braving the climb where they are fitted with safety harnesses and ropes. The journey then takes us beneath three slender rocks that stand 450 feet high and are named The Pinnacles and this magnificent site is most definitely worth a photograph although I would advise that we do not have this image, as it's impossible to take in a moving car and quite a walk from one of the pull in areas. We are soon able to witness the sites of Peregrine falcons who rear their chicks on the rocks and again, this is a most memorable site. If you are intending to drive up through the Gorge it is always advisable to carry out your journey early in the morning, particularly as many of the pull in areas are full and we have been disappointed in the past as we were not able to find anywhere to stop the car. Consequently, when this occurs I always seem to end up driving whilst my husband hangs out of the passenger window in an attempt to capture images when we're on the mood, which normally ends up with him declaring that I'm driving too fast! ~~ THE CAVES ~~ There are numerous caves at Cheddar, but only two are open to the public, namely Gough's Cave and Cox's Cave. What I enjoy about visiting the caves in Cheddar is that you do not need to be accompanied by a tour guide, so can wander around at your own leisure with the aid of a telephone style device, which is included in the price of the ticket and is handed to you at the entrance. I prefer to be able to listen to the commentary in my ear as I can rewind if I am unclear of something and it is easy to operate by selecting the appropriate numbers that correspondent with the relevant areas within the caves. The devices can operate in numerous languages and the appropriate language is selected by pressing the relevant button. There are transcripts and audio loop systems available for those with impaired sight and hearing although I am not aware if there is an additional cost. As the floor can be quite slippery in areas it is advisable to wear appropriate footwear as you walk around the one way system. The visions in front of us inside Gough's Cave are difficult to describe, as they are absolutely outstanding where we were able to witness the captivating stalagmites and stalactites that have beautifully formed over thousands of years and the array of different colours is simply breathtaking. Unfortunately, taking photographs in some areas is rather difficult due to the lack of lighting in their caves and there are some areas where flash photography is not allowed. There are various chambers to visit within the cave, such as St Paul's Cathedral and Solomon's Temple and I have uploaded some images of these for you to see. Each time my husband and I visit we are totally lost for words as we stand there in silence taking in the fantastic splendour that the caves have to offer their visitors. Clever lighting is used within the caves to accentuate specific areas and I'm not intending to say any more about this, as it will spoil the excitement if you've not previously visited. Whilst some visitors choose not to use the audio guide my husband and I always listen to ours as we walk around as we are informed of what actually happened thousands of years ago in specific areas within the cave, such as the creation of The Ice Age. What I find so difficult to grasp is that some 14,700 years ago our ancestors were living in Gough's Cave and evidence would suggest that they were cannibals. The cave displays a replica of the skeleton of what has become known as "Cheddar Man" who is believed to have lived 9,000 years ago and is the oldest complete skeleton in Britain with the original being conserved in The National History Museum. Following your walk around the cave you are able to visit the Cheddar Man Museum, which offers some fascinating exhibits and information. The history of Gough's Cave is truly captivated, particularly as it began its' formation some 500,000 years ago, which seems a little difficult to comprehend, particularly when you look at it today. Further on in the caves we are able to witness a rather pongy aroma, which is the maturing of Cheddar Cheese, which is made in the same way that it was 100 years ago. It is fascinating to witness the huge circular shapes of cheese and as someone who adores cheese I would love to sneak a few of them in my handbag and take them home although I would need an extremely large handbag! Some areas within the caves are unsuitable for wheelchairs due to their slopes and the fact that they are rather wet underfoot. Cox's Cave was named after George Cox who discovered it in 1837 and on entry you are handed a telephone style guide identical to that used in Gough's Cave. Cox's Cave is just as magnificent and offers beautiful mirror pools that offer an appearance of total relaxation and tranquillity with their waters lying still. Throughout the caves we are able to witness haunting choral music, which, in combination with the clever lighting is intended to deliver a spiritual experience. The sights of the beautiful stalagmites and stalactites are simply breathtaking and I found myself standing and staring in total amazement. Both my husband and I found this cave a little difficult to walk around, particularly as the walkways and steps are very narrow, which were a little problematic as my husband has mobility problems. Consequently, it is not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs. The magical part of this cave is The Crystal Quest, which I am not going to discuss in my review, as I do not want to spoil the experience, but I can highly recommend it. However, whilst funny, this section is somewhat frightening, so may not be suitable for children or those with a nervous disposition. Although I have visited this area on many occasions I would advise that it scares me to death on each and every one of them! There is a warning on the door before you enter this section and I would advise that strobe lighting is used, so it may not be suitable for everybody. Whilst both of the caves are fairly dark throughout, pathways are clearly lit and there is adequate lighting to enable you to witness the true glory of what is inside. As you can imagine the caves are extremely cold and offer a damp feeling, so it is advisable to wear something warm. Situated at the exit of both of the caves are large baskets so that you can return your guide. ~~ JACOB'S LADDER ~~ This is a journey I have taken on two occasions, but never again! Jacob's ladder consists of 247 steps (yes, I've counted them!), which are located on the side of the Gorge. There are hand rails for the entire length of the steps and four sit down areas, as there is no way I could ever have made the journey in one go without stopping! Obviously, Jacob's Ladder is not suited for those with mobility problems, wheelchairs and pushchairs. When I eventually reached the top (some 20 minutes later) the reviews that greeted me were totally breathtaking, as I was able to see for miles upon miles. For those who wish to climb even further the 48 steps of the Lookout Tower will enable you to have a 360 degrees view of some breathtaking sites, such as the steep sided valley of Cheddar Gorge and the hilltop plateau. The views are absolutely spectacular and a climb to the Lookout Tower is perfect for those who love photography. Our last visit saw us enjoying a picnic on one of the many picnic benches situated directly at the top of Jacob's Ladder before we regained our strength to make the journey back down. However, the Lookout Tower is only accessible via the 247 steps, so I'm unlikely to ever see it again, particularly as my husband found it very difficult due to his limited mobility and he joined me at the top a considerable time later. You can choose to take a Cliff Top walk although this is something I have never done, particularly as I have a terrible fear of heights! The walk back down the steps was something that I found very nerving, as whilst there are sturdy and secure handrails, I was fearful that I was going to fall forwards and end up in a heap at the bottom. Thankfully, visitors were all very polite and nobody pushed or shoved, which is a frequent occurrence on escalators and steps of shopping malls. ~~ SHOPPING, OTHER ACTIVITIES AND PLACES TO EAT ~~ All of the shops in Cheddar can be described as quaint, as the majority are small high quality gift shops as opposed to selling sticks of rock and candy floss. I have a fascination for teddy bears and love browsing the shelves of The Gorge Bear Company, which you can choose from a huge variety of different styles of teddy bear and soft toys. If you wish to take a step back in time you can visit the Cheddar Sweet Kitchen and watch and smell the beautiful sweets being created and make a selection for purchase from the huge choices available. You can enjoy a game of crazy golf and then decide to enjoy a tasty cream tea in one of the adorable cafes or eat a meal in one of the restaurants or pubs. I cannot speak of eating in any of the restaurants or pubs, as we've always taken a picnic and have enjoyed eating it by the River Yeo that runs through the centre of Cheddar where we watch the world to by. However, we have frequently had a cup of tea in one of the small cafes or a glass of lemonade in the pub garden, which is located directly in the centre of the village. There is a Toy Museum located in the village, which is a delightful place to visit and conjures up many happy memories of my childhood toys (although I would hasten to add that mine weren't as old!). ~~ STAYING IN CHEDDAR ~~ As Cheddar is not too far from our home we have never stayed overnight, but there is a wealth of information located on the Visit Somerset website where you are able to choose from hundreds of bed and breakfasts, hotels, cottages and caravans. ~~ CAR PARKING ~~ As previously stated, car parking is often problematic, particularly if you arrive later in the day, so we have always ensured that we arrive by 10 am at the latest. There are a few pay and display car parks; one of which is named Cliff Street Pay and Display and offers 150 spaces; 6 of which are allocated free of charge for disabled drivers. There are three car parks located around the Gorge location; two of which have room for 50 cars and the other for 300 cars and these are free from the end of October until half term in February. Unfortunately, I am unable to advise of car parking charges, as my husband is a blue badge holder and we've always been fortune in obtaining a free space. However, when I was married to my first husband and I can recall that charges were very reasonable, as we would often stay for the entire day. There is a warning when leaving your car near to the Gorge, as rocks will often fall and owners leave their cars at their own risk. Fortunately, I am unable to report of ever having to return to a battered car! ~~ TOILETS AND BABY CHANGING FACILITIES ~~ The toilets are clean, tidy and well stocked and are located at Cliff Street car park, Costa Coffee (which is above Gough's Cave) and in the centre of the Dag's Hole Shopping Centre. Disabled facilities are located at both Costa Coffee toilets and Dag's Hole. Baby changing facilities are available at the toilets at Costa Coffee. ~~ PRICES ~~ You can purchase a Gorge and Caves Explorer ticket for the cost of £17.80 per adult and £11.50 per child. Children under 5 years of age are able to gain entrance to all of the attractions free of charge. There is a 10% discount if purchasing your tickets online. The Gorge and Caves Explorer ticket will give access to all of the attractions, as below where you are able to visit each attraction once:- * Gough's cave inclusive of audio guide * Cheddar Man Museum * Cox's Cave and The Crystal Quest * The Lookout Tower * Cliff Top Gorge Walk * Gorge Open-top Bus Tour Unfortunately, individual tickets cannot be purchased for each attraction, which I find frustrating, particularly as I have visited them on numerous occasions and would like to have a choice at those I'd like to see again. ~~ GETTING TO CHEDDAR ~~ Cheddar is easily accessible by road where need to exit the M5 at Junction 22 and follow the clearly labelled signposts of Cheddar. The nearest railway station is Weston-Super-Mare, which is located some 10 miles away and there are regular bus services. The nearest airport is Bristol International, which is located 14 miles from Cheddar. As I am sure you have guessed by now, I absolutely adore Cheddar, as it is the perfect day out and offers visitors a wonderful and breathtaking experience. I hope you found my review useful and would thank you for reading. This review also appears on Ciao under the same user name.

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        15.04.2011 20:53
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        A fantastic and interesting whole day out can be had at cheddar gorge and caves. Highly recommend!

        I have relatives that live in Somerset so I have been fortunate enough to visit Cheddar Gorge and caves (in the village of Cheddar, The Mendip Hills) on a few occasions; most recently just a few weeks ago. I visited prior to this, last October. The great thing was that I purchased the Explorer Ticket. With this ticket, it is actually valid for ten years; so if for example you don't have time to see everything on the day or even if the weather ruins your trip and you decide to leave early; you can come back and see any of the attractions you weren't able to previously see. This is what myself and my partner did. We ran out of time in October at the Gorge, so saved our tickets to come back. Fortunately the weather was lovely! It was also great going just before the Easter period; whilst there were a few visitors it certainly wasn't busy. In the summer months particularly it can get very busy as people come from all over the UK and in fact, the world, to visit The Gorge and caves. The caves and Gorge Explorer ticket is reasonably priced (£17 per adult; £11 per child, age 5 -15;under 5's free; families £45 for 2 adults and up to 3 children) .You get a discounted ticket if you are disabled costing £8.50; if you have a carer their ticket will also only cost £8.50. If you are lucky enough to get decent weather, you will have a lovely day out at Cheddar. One point to mention, as you enter each attraction, your explorer ticket gets hole punched and once its complete, it cannot be re-used. However, we had a really nice guide on the open top gorge tourer bus who did say that he would let us in to Goughs cave again (even though we had been into it in the October). This may have been as it was fairly quiet or perhaps he was just in a good mood! What to see at Cheddar; Goughs cave; Formed many thousands of years ago; 90 metres deep and over 1.5 miles long. Goughs cave is named after Richard Gough who lived in Cheddar between 1892 and 1898. He found and excavated various parts of the cave. The original cheddar cheese is stored at Goughs cave today. You can obtain audio guides whilst walking through Goughs cave (they are included in the price of the explorer ticket) Coxes cave;this cave is named after George Cox who discovered it in 1837. I like this cave the most; whilst not as large as Goughs cave; its beautiful, with many small sections and amazing colours to be seen within the caves. Jacobs Ladder; Be prepared for plenty of climbing up steps (274 to be precise!) Don't worry though, there are little seats that you can rest at inbetween climbing. Upon reaching the top of the steps, turn right and you will see the look out tower which you climb up with fantastic views. (Don't panic, theres not too many steps to climb here!) You may also see a goat or two! There are quite a few around the gorge. Cliff top walk; as you reach the top of Jacobs ladder; if you turn left you can start a 3 mile gorge top walk. The first part of the walk is uphill, climbing uphill, on a quite rocky path. I must own up by saying i have not yet completed the cliff top walk (well not 3 miles!) only about a mile at the most. I did this many years ago (when i was younger!) with my sister. We did get to a beautiful spot where you could look down into the Gorge and then we went back down again. Our mum was waiting at the bottom of Jacobs ladder for us as unfortunately due to her bad legs, she couldn't really make the climb up there. Open top double decker bus; The bus runs about every 15 minutes or so and takes you on alittle tour around the Gorge. Its basically an uphill ride, with a guide telling you all about the gorge and caves; its very interesting with lovely views. You are then dropped off outside Goughs cave, where most people would then start their day. Museum; the museum is ok, reasonably interesting, though small. On show are tools made of flint, videos of how cavemen survived using their skills, some human remains found in the caves plus various objects from stone age times. A replica of 'Cheddar Man' is on display here. The original Cheddar Man was discovered in Goughs caves in 1903; he is thought to be 9000 years old and his actual remains are kept at The Natural History Museum in London (though are not on display). You can see the skeleton via this link http://piclib.nhm.ac.uk/results.asp?image=014165 Climbing and abseiling; £18 per person (minimum age 11) (tickets can be combined with explorer tickets. Other general information; car parking is free in some places at non peak periods of the year; there are some lovely places to eat; with some more pricey than others; a few pubs serving reasonably priced food. I would particularly recommend The Riverside Inn. You can dine in or out. The pub is family friendly with a nice play area for the kids. Its a real pleasure sitting out there on a nice day. You may wish to take a nice packed lunch (if you are planning on going on the Gorge top walk). Make sure you wear comfortable footwear if you do. You will never get up there in high heels or flip flops! Theres also plenty of gift stores and a Christmas shop with some lovely things in it. All in all this is a great day out for a single person, families, couples, groups, school trips; though its not ideal for very young children. Eg if you have a child in a pushchair. It would still be a lovely day out, just a bit hard work and you wouldn't be able to get up Jacobs ladder with a push chair. I did see 2 women with toddlers though and they made it up the ladder without any complaining form the little ones! If you are in the Somerset area and the weather is decent, cheddar gorge and caves are a must see!

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          25.02.2011 09:34
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          A breathtaking place to enjoy for a day out - its gorge-ous!

          Set in the county of Somerset less than 20 miles from Bristol, lies a small village that is typical of many other villages inthe UK with its post office, small local shops and pubs dotted around, however Cheddar is different....follow the brown tourist signs and walk to the gorge and enjoy the views that in my opinion can only be described as spectacular. Formed thousands of years ago by a river carving its way through the rocks, its now a tourist attraction with caves that you can visit, interesting walks that take you to look over the top of the gorge and across the Mendip valley, and crazy golf, tourist shops, pubs and tearooms and other eateries including the cheese shop to tempt your tastebuds. It can get very busy in the summer but there are plenty of places to escape to along the route so its not neccesarily crowded if you find the time to explore thoroughly. The caves of course are the main tourist attraction and are very picturesque inside - children may find them a little disturbing as of course they are very damp, echoey but also quite breathtaking, but they are well worth a visit. My only criticism is that the prices to enter places like Goughs Cave or to ascend Jacobs Ladder are quite expensive. Tickets are available at £17.80 for adults and £11.50 for children (5-15yrs) and there are variations for family tickets etc. There are 6 things the tickets allow you to do including an open top bus ride and any unused part of the ticket can be used at a later date, however for a family day out which inevitably means food and drink and car parking on top, can be quite pricey in my view. Recommendation: Drive up to the top of the gorge and back down again to get an initial feel of the place and to find where you want to park - there are a couple of car parks situated by the tourist bus stop at the bottom and by The Riverside pub also at the bottom. Thereafter the next one is after all of the tourist shops and dotted along various places along the gorge until you get right to the top and the road levels out. Once you have parked get a guide map from the tourist information place or the open top bus shop and decide if you want to pay for the attractions - even without going in these it really is a spectacular place to just walk around. There are plenty of places to go even if its raining so don't worry about the weather. I would recommend ending your day or even just to break the day up having a bite to eat in The Wishing Well situation near the bottom of the gorge and having a Somerset cream tea - loads of bread and jam, cakes, pots of tea, scones with jam and clotted cream - and any you can't eat they will give you a box to take it home with you! I think that its an amazing and lovely place of natural beauty and of course to spend a week in the area rather than just a day means that there are lots of other wonderful places nearby to visit too , but for just a day out I personally think its quite expensive particularly for families. Don't take my word for it though - come and see if you agree - I moved here from Suffolk because I loved it so much - perhaps you will too!?

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          11.08.2008 16:19

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          i would like to thank you very much for letting me visit the caves with my family whist on hoilday, and walking along the gorge from shelbey the dog

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          27.01.2006 19:19
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          Well worth going here as a day trip as there is plenty to do.

          "Cheddar Caves and Gorge is situated in Somerset, Devon I can promise you that this is an experience you will never have had before. When you are walking through the caves it can seem a little damp and dark so young children may feel a little uneasy. I was fascinated by the amazing natural structure of the caves. Cheddar Caves and Gorge have been a major tourist attraction for over 200 years, with plenty to do above and below ground. Outstanding Natural Beauty, where you'll find many rare species. The Cathedral-like Caves and Britain's biggest Gorge are million-year-old Ice Age river beds. Your ancestors have lived here for 40,000 years, and world-famous Cheddar Man is Britain's oldest complete skeleton. You can purchase one ticket called the Explorer Ticket and it will enable you to visit all the sites listed below. Gough's Cave The Cheddar Man Museum Here you can meet Cheddar Man - Britain's oldest complete skeleton. Also there is now a exhibition which explain why people used to eat each other resulting in Cannibalism. Also many other interesting if sometimes shocking facts about the Stone Age, so be prepared. Cox's Cave The Crystal Quest Jacob's Ladder Well I can certainly remember doing this particular activity. How could you forget climbing a hillside flight of 274 steps. Without a doubt this was very hard work with plenty of stopping in between. I glad to say I wasn’t the only person to either. When you finally reach the top you are at the Lookout Tower and the cliff top Gorge Walk. This is Britain's Biggest Gorge to the from bottom to top. Remember to wear comfortable shoes and carry a drink with you, you are going to need it. It is well worth it though the scenery is spectacular and one not to be missed. :0) Pavey's Lookout Tower The Cliff top Gorge Walk I actually walked this and it is a 3-mile circular route where you can explore the 300-acre managed grassland estate, returning through National Trust land across the Gorge. There are picnic areas too so you can eat while admiring the amazing views. Especially as these are Britain’s highest inland cliffs. Although you really have to be in quiet good physical shape to walk the 3 miles. The Open-top Gorge Tour The price may have varied slightly: Adults - £10.90 Children (5-15yrs) - £7.90 Children under 5yrs - Free Family Discount Ticket 2 Adults and 2 Children - £29.70 After all these activities you can relax and have a bite to eat and a drink at the Explorers Café-Bar. You can enjoy the views from the windows of the café of the gorge in all its glory. The food is very nice and staff are extremely friendly. Also At Cheddar Gorge they hold special Events throughout the year so check before going to see what you can see while there. The Caves are open every day except Christmas Eve & Day July to August 10:00 am - 5.30 pm last entry to each attraction 5.00 pm September to June 10:30 am - 5.00 pm last entry to each attraction 4.30 pm For more information please see below: Cheddar Caves & Gorge, Cheddar, Somerset, BS27 3QF Tel: (0)1934 742343 email: caves@visitcheddar.co.uk Website: www.cheddarcaves.co.uk Thanks for reading my review. :0)

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            26.11.2005 21:02
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            Great natural beauty of cliffs and caves which is spoilt during peak season.

            People have been visiting Cheddar in Somerset for hundreds of years to see the picturesque limestone gorge in the southern part of the Mendip Hills. Here are the highest inland cliffs in the country, which can be viewed from either the public road at the base of the gorge or the footpaths along the cliff tops. The Mendip Hill area has been designated An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The commercialism of Cheddar has detracted from that, but you don't have to go far from here to fully appreciate it. We travelled by car, and found that the roads were well sign posted to the Cheddar Caves and Gorge from the M5 Junction 22. When we arrived, we first drove the length of the Gorge to decide where we wanted to park. When we were there, midweek at the end of September, there was a choice of parking spaces available to visitors arriving throughout the day, at both the top and bottom ends of the Gorge, even though one of the smaller car parks was being dug up. We chose the bottom of the Gorge, in the main car park, because this is where a scenic tour bus picks up. The Gorge doesn't have a cable car, but there is a notice saying that it is likely to in the future. ** Coping with Disabilities and Very Young Children ** I will explain how I coped with what would be a difficult day out for some, and also try to see my day through the eyes of others who are more or less able than me. I would NOT advise anyone to go to Cheddar in the six week school summer holidays, as it is a popular tourist attraction with very limited space in the Gorge. For those with school age children, the best time could be the half term holidays. If you don't have school age children, I advise avoiding all school holiday times. The narrow pavements on the road up the George make it difficult but not impossible to use pushchairs. The slope is steep though. There are special toilet facilities for disabled people, and mothers with young children. I am not aware of any concessionary prices for those with disabilities, or their carers. I would advise those with worse disabilities than mine to contact Cheddar Caves and/or the Tourist Information Centre for further advice. My disabilities include low stamina, and poor balance. I can walk up one flight of stairs in an ordinary house at my own pace, but I should always use the handrail, as I only have one working ear, for both hearing and balance. I made sure I used the handrails provided in the caves. ** Gough's Cave ** This is the largest of the two show caves, and the part of the visit I enjoyed most. I was pleasantly surprised that this cave is wide enough and had gentle enough slopes for at least half the way, to make it the easiest show cave I know of for those with young children or disabilities. After it becomes unsuitable for pushchairs, there is a place to park and collect them later, for those who want to carry their child around the most difficult part to access, which you need to visit to see the most spectacular two caverns. At the entrance you are loaned what looks like a large telephone with commentaries on it. I found these commentaries gave me all the information I wanted in an entertaining way. First you press the green button, which explains how to access the information that is most relevant to you, and then you look for numbers on the wall of this cave, which advise you which keys to press. The adult information is in English, French or German. Commentaries include information about history, geology, and wildlife. The narrator is usually supposed to be the voice of the late Mr Gough, who found the caves. He has a mild Somerset accent, but is very clear. Other voices sometimes complement his, including the voice of a bat. The voice of a bat sounds a bit strange on reflection. I thought I was listening to the adult version, but perhaps I had pressed the children's commentary at that point. There is a children's version in English. Out of curiosity I listened to some of the children's version, where Mrs Gough, tells tales that would be of most interest to younger visitors. She says that although her husband claims that he found the caves, in was really their children, while out exploring. He just takes the credit for it. This cave was in fact re-discovered by Gough in 1890. Research shows that our ancestors used it in the Stone Age though. The skeleton of Cheddar Man, which is Britain's oldest complete skeleton, was found in this cave. (You get the opportunity to learn more about that if you visit.) I didn't have any questions, but some people did, and the staff in the cave seemed happy to answer them. Don't forget to take your imagination into the caves with you, as this will make it a lot more interesting. Look at the different formations that are obvious, and also the ones that you can only see in the mirror pools. By clever positioning of lights, the roofs of some of the smaller crevices are reflected into the water. ** Cox's Cave ** This was found by George Cox in 1837, when one of his workers fell through a hole in the roof while collecting stones to use as building material. There are commentary points throughout the cave, which are automatically activated. I found this difficult to take in, as I could hear the distant commentaries, as well as the one I wanted to listen to, at the same time. This is a lot smaller, with narrower passages than Gough's Cave. The second half of the tour of this cave is very commercialised, and contains the Crystal Quest walk through fantasy adventure. Visitors are given the chance to exit before they go through this, in case any are too nervous for it. I bravely continued through the Quest section, although I didn't leave my hubby's side. I was only a little frightened by the dragon, honest. ** Jacob's Ladder, Lookout Tower & Gorge Walk ** Unfortunately I am not fit enough to cope with these attractions. Jacob's Ladder is a set of 274 steps, which lead to the Lookout Tower at the top of the gorge. The tourist information office, in the gorge, warned us that people of average fitness would find this challenging, and the walk at the top equally so. The Gorge Walk is a 3 mile circular walk on the land at the top of the cliffs, which should give good long distance views on clear days. On the back of our Explorer Ticket there is a map of the Clifftop Gorge Walk, which says there are some steep and rocky sections of path and that you should allow 2 hrs for this. I did go on walks of a similar length while on our week's holiday in Somerset, but couldn't cope with it on the same day as walking around the bottom of the gorge and going into the caves. The walks I did go on were away from the popular tourist spots, and as we wore clothing with colours that blended in with the natural background, I expect I saw a lot more shy wildlife than I would have done had I gone on this walk. ** Gorge Tour Bus ** This is advertised as running between March to October in an open top double-decker bus, with a talk from the guide. The bus was still running when we went in September, but seemed to be there just to help people who couldn't walk well up to the main attractions. ** Cheddar Man & the Cannibals Exhibition ** This is advertised as, "The perfect place to find out why our ancestors liked eating people." I found this small museum moderately interesting. It is designed so that some part of it should be of some interest to most age groups. The owners say, "Don't come if you prefer not to be surprised or shocked." I think that the gory exhibits are likely to be of most interest to children. I saw a note in the visitor's book, in childlike writing, saying that the giant model of a de-fleshed skull reminded them of the way their dad looks normally. One part is about interpreting cave paintings, and gives youngsters the chance to paint on a washable surface. There are also plenty of relatively mundane historical finds displayed. ** Cost ** The Caves and Gorge Explorer Ticket includes Gough's Cave, Cheddar Man, Cox's Cave with Crystal Quest, the Lookout Tower, 3 mile Clifftop Walk and Open Top Gorge Tour. Prices for 2009 are £16.00 for Adults and £10.00 for Children 5-15 years. Under 5's are free. If you visit places displaying tourist information leaflets before you visit, you may find a money-off voucher, as we did. We found a £1 off voucher on a free leaflet called "Somerset Things to See & Do". Some people seemed to have paid for parking separately, but when we bought our Explorer Ticket at the main car park, we also got a parking ticket to display in the car window. ** Shops ** I expected the shops to be expensive in this international 'tourist trap', some were, but perhaps because of the time of the year we visited, some shops had very reasonably priced souvenirs. For example, I saw Cheddar Tea Towels for £1.50, and the official A4 sized glossy official souvenir guides were £1.99. Refreshment outlets range from those selling traditional cream teas, fish and chips, and pub grub to foreign foods. When we arrived, I noticed in the main car park that there was an ice cream shop, and promised myself one before we went home. I thought it would be a good treat after an unusual amount of exercise for me. But when we returned in had shut. Early closing of some of the facilities is a draw back of going out of peak season. You can buy cheddar cheese that is actually made in Cheddar at The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company Shop. The method has now been copied and used in many parts of the world. This Cheese Company advertise that you can watch the cheese being made, but we didn't make further enquires about this. I had a quick look in the shop, where you can taste free samples of the cheese, but I wasn't prepared to pay over the supermarket price for it, so they didn't get a sale from me. Others with a more discerning palette than mine may well be impressed though. Somerset is famous for its scrumpy (cider), which you will find on sale here, but it isn't to my taste as it is not sweet enough, and usually has "bits" in. Those with a sweet tooth will probably better appreciate the sweet shop, where you can see the sweets being made on the premises. ** Conclusion ** If you are reasonably fit and want to visit just one set of caves in Somerset, I would recommend Wooky Hole Caves. I visited these while I was still in good health. Cheddar's Caves are much more commercialised, but the access is easier, so more likely to be suitable to those with minor disabilities, such as mild arthritis and low levels of fitness. I saw a lot of determined visitors using walking aids, apparently enjoying their day out, at their own pace. Whichever caves you visit go properly dressed. Remember that the temperature underground stays constant, irrespective of the outside weather. It is about 7 degrees Celsius in Cheddar Caves. Non-slip footwear is essential, as these limestone caves are created by water and the ground will be damp or wet. ** Contact Details ** Cheddar Caves & Gorge, Cheddar Somerset, BS27 3QF Tel: 01934 742343 Email: caves@visitcheddar.co.uk Website: http://www.cheddarcaves.co.uk/

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              18.01.2004 04:11
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              Whilst on our Haven holiday in June we decided to go to Cheddar for the day and explore the caves. Myself nor my other half had ever been to Cheddar, though we had seen some pictures but we were still unprepared for the breathtaking scenery that greeted us upon arrival. *~*~*~*~* THE GORGE *~*~*~*~* Cheddar Gorge was described by 12th Century Historian as being one of the four wonders of England. The Gorge splits the Mendip Hills from top to bottom and is truly breathtaking upon first sight. We arrived on a morning when the rain had just cleared and the day was breaking into sunshine for the first time and the sentiment that my eldest daughter uttered was echoed by us all. ?WOW!? The vast limestone cliffs with greenery growing lush along many of it?s banks tower above as you drive up through the Gorge. Many theories have been offered about what made the Gorge, from earthquakes, a cleft made by the sea, a huge cave missing it?s roof to a river cutting it?s way through the earth before disappearing under the ground. The river theory is most popularly held today, with the theory going that it began as a small river three million years ago winding it?s merry way along the top of the Mendip Hills. As sea levels fell, the Mendips grew higher and the river cut a deeper valley until the Ice Age began, freezing the ground and blocking the caves with ice. When summer came and the ice melted, torrents of water rushed down the valley , the river cutting deeper every season at the edge of the Mendips. I had no idea how lovely the Gorge was and though we went to Cheddar primarily to see the caves, I would go again just to explore the Gorge further. As well as driving through the Gorge ourselves, we also took the open-top bus tour, gaining a much better view and commentary from a guide pointing out the various landmarks and points of interest. *~*~*~*~* THE CAVES *~*~*~*~* The caves which are open to the public are: GOUGH?S CA VE and COX?s CAVE (Cox?s cave includes the Crystal Quest). We visited Gough?s cave first and this is where we paid to gain entry, details of which I will include at the end of the review. We were then given an ?explorer audioguide?. This is placed around your neck and resembles an eighties mobile phone! In order to gain information at various points around the cave, you simply type in a number which is displayed on the wall and a dodgy West Country accented male voice gives you information and history about the part of the cave you are in. I found them to be helpful and Zoe (aged 10) was fascinated and used hers constantly. At only four, Abigail had to share mine as the audioguides can be used only by older children. The cave itself was great and the formations made by the combination of limestone and water was totally alien-looking, lending a feel of unreality to the experience. I expected more in the way of stalagmites and stalactites but apparently a lot of these had disappeared due to idiotic sightseers breaking them off to take home with them as souvenirs. Sometimes, I feel utter despair at human nature. The formations were eerie and wax like and at one point I found myself convincing Zoe that they were wax. Being ten and apt to argue every point to the max, she wasn?t happy until I told her to stick her fingernail in it. Of course it was rock hard and then she was satisfied. Gough?s cave is the largest of the two and quite spacious with several different caverns, one of which is named St Pauls as Richard Gough, the man who discovered the cave, felt that it resembled a cathedral and upon finding the chamber, brought his entire family down to it to sing hymns and worship in it. During the excavation of 1903, Richard and his son unearthed a skeleton, tests showed the remains to be approximately 9000 years old and this is now exhibited in the museum and is known as ?The Cheddar Man?. Gough?s Cave is vast and rich in stories and history and I could?ve spent the entire day in that one cave. But we went on. Cox?s cave is the smaller of the two with my hubby often having to bend double at six foot to navigate. Being just 5?2 myself, it wasn?t a problem for me, I just had to watch my head occasionally. This cave had a theme, the ?Crystal Quest?, this entailed a story including goblins, a dragon and various other things guaranteed to scare the bejesus out of you in an enclosed, pitch black cave! The theme was ok but Abigail came quite close to hysteria near the end as it got very dark just before we entered the ?Dragon?s Lair?. However, the scary chap near the door who was pretending to be a wax figure (before Zoe yelled ?he?s real!?) said he would let me & the little one out by a side door if she was really frightened. *~*~*~*~* JACOB?s LADDER *~*~*~*~* These steps, cut into the side of one of the cliffs are represent a fair hike to the top of the Gorge where you can then climb the look-out tower to enjoy the view from the top. I declined the tower due to my fear of heights and remained at the bottom with Abigail who also wasn?t keen. My hubby (Andy) reported that much of the view was obscured anyway and there wasn?t that much to see, so I didn?t feel like I?d missed much. The steps themselves total 274 and an exhibition along the way asks that you think of each step as one million years in the earth?s history. Various rest points illustrate this theme, giving information about where you are in the history as you progress up the steps. I found this relatively interesting, as did Andy, Zoe found it fascinating and Abby asked if there were any crocodiles around here! Oh to be four! Giving it some thought though, the guide book says that human history can be represented as a single sheet of paper at the top of the last step and that is quite humbling. *~*~*~*~* HOW MUCH? *~*~*~*~* The cost of the day trip wasn?t hugely expensive for all that is includ ed, I break it down as follows: ADULTS: £8.90 per person CHILDREN: £5.90 per person UNDER FIVES: FREE!!!! I had a voucher worth £1.00 per person that can be picked up around Somerset quite easily, it was called something like ?things to do & see around Somerset?. In fact, they had some in the café/ice-cream bar in the town itself, so you could go there before buying your tickets. For the cost of the ticket, you gain admission to the following attractions: The Caves, Cheddar Man & The Cannibals, Jacobs Ladder & the tower/Cliff Top Walk, the open-top bus tour & the museum. Quite good value I thought especially as we didn?t get to see all of it. I must say that the only disappointment for me was that everything closed dead on five O?clock, apart from the odd gift shop. As we didn?t get there until midday, this meant that we didn?t have time to visit the Cheddar Man or the museum and I was very disappointed. Because we live in a tourist area ourselves, we expected the attractions to remain open at this time of the season as a lot of them do in our area. After all, for those who rely on the tourist trade, they have all winter to chill out, the summer season is when they make their money. Because of this though, we will definitely be visiting Cheddar again, to see the things we missed. *~*~*~*~* SUMMARY *~*~*~*~* Cheddar Gorge was lovely, very scenic, steeped in history and with plenty to fill a full day of sightseeing. The gift shops in and around the caves were expensive but full of interesting gifts such as fossils and crystals as well as the usual tourist tea towels etc. We found that if you walk further down into the village, the gift shops were cheaper. The café we visited was very reasonable and cost no more for a meal for four than anywhere else. The village itself is very pretty and worth visiting even if you don?t do the caves etc. With the cliffs on either side of you when you initially drive in giving you the WOW factor and the fact that the village is so picturesque, it has a feel of olde worlde England that you don?t find that often. I mentioned to Andy that I couldn?t imagine living in such a lovely place and he said he bet people thought the same thing about Penzance, though I have my doubts. All in all, I would recommend a visit to anyone who asked. A lovely place with plenty to do and see and sooooooo pretty! Thanks for reading! Kes:)

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                29.06.2003 17:42
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                My girlfriend lives near Cheddar and we finally got round to visiting the Gorge and caves the other Sunday. Cheddar Gorge is a natural phenomemon created by melting glaciers in the last ice age, the limestone cliffs are the highest and most impressive in Great Britain. Since their discovery in the late 1890's the caves of Cheddar Gorge have made Cheddar a very popular tourist destination not just for the British but also for visiting foreigners. ¬Where ? Cheddar is fifteen miles south of the West Country cities of Bristol and Bath, the beautiful Mendip Hills lie to the west and Glastonbury and the Somerset levels lie just to the south. It is easily accessible by road, the M5 (J5) runs nearby and the A38 runs through Cheddar but whatever direction your coming from Cheddar Gorge is well signposted by way of the 'brown signs'. Buses 673 and 674 travel daily from Temple Meads, Bristol to Cheddar if you rely on public transport. Arriving at Cheddar Gorge is an eerie experience if you haven't visited before, one minute your driving through flat country lanes then suddenly the land becomes littered with rocky outcrops and then the road goes on a decline and cliffs appear either side, some of which are 400 ft high. Beware - rockfalls and goats in the road are a regular occurence in this unspoilt part of the country ! ¬Whats on offer ? Firstly when you think of Cheddar you think of cheese and it is indeed this little town that invented Cheddar cheese a thousand years ago. Cheddar cheese is today the most popular cheese in the world and you can find several shops in the Gorge selling locally produced Cheddars plus some gimmick flavours which require an acquired taste. You can also visit a mini museum which explains how Cheddar cheese is made and matured. Because, a thousand years ago there was no such thing as patents, Cheddar cheese production spread throughout the world and the town prospered little from it's world ren owned product, this still rankles a few locals to this day ! As well as cheese, Cheddar is famous for Cider as is the rest of Somerset. Personally I think the drink is horrid but the strange Somerset folk love it and there are literally hundreds of varieties for fans to try, specialist shops in the Gorge are a must if your a cider drinker. The caves themselves are a must visit, they are a wonderful experience which create awe and mystery in equal measures. The biggest cave is Gough's cave, named after Richard Gough who discoerved it in 1890. This cave is very large and is full of stalagmites, stalagtites, limestone creations and clear, still rock pools. Also in this cave is 'The Cheddar Man' which was discovered in 1903. The Cheddar Man is a skeleton of a 42 year old caveman and at 9000 years old today he is the oldest ever complete skeleton found in Britain. Other bone remains have been found in the cave and evidence has also been found of cannibalism. Other caves include Cox's cave which is smaller than Gough's cave but is still worth a look and also 'The Crystal Quest' which is basically a homage to the ideas of J.R.R Tolkien, the author of 'The Lord Of The Rings'. The caves are basically hairline cracks in the gorge, formed by rainwater over many thousands of years, they were originally the mouths of rivers but as the water table dropped over the centuries, the caves became dry. The lower levels of the caves are still full of water and are being explored by Cave experts but of course aren't open to the public. Jacobs' ladder is another must see, this involves climbing 274 steps of the 'Jacobs Ladder' to the top of the cliffs to a lookout tower - very tiring but worth it once you see the views, you can see right across the whole of Somerset on a clear day. Hikers and walkers will get plenty from the 2 hour, 3 mile cliff top walk, not for me but the walk is very pop ular amongst the hiking fraternity. A great way to see the whole of Cheddar Gorge is taking an open-top Gorge tour bus. The bus runs every day between 5 April and 28 September and runs the whole length of the Gorge, the guide points out interesting features and how they were formed. Another activity which is highly popular in the Gorge is Abseilling, this is run by 'Rocksport' and should be pre-arranged. ¬Other stuff Car parking is situated at the North end of the Gorge and is run on a pay and display basis - you can get a discount by purchasing a ticket to the caves. The caves are open every day of the year except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, in May to mid-September from 10 am - 5pm and from mid-September to April from 10.30 am - 4.40 pm. Tickets to the caves are purchased at the entrance to Gough's cave, an adult is £6 with concessions for children, O.A.P's and students. A full ticket will allow entrance to all the caves on the same ticket. On entering the cave you will be given an 'Audioguide' which is your own personal guide by way of earphones. You have a keypad and every time you see a number in the cave, you key that number in the pad and you will hear the story for that part of the cave, the 'Audioguides' come in many different languages and are a very informative part of the tour. The guides are optional if you'd rather walk around discovering the cave by yourself but I would recommend them. Scattered throughout the Gorge are souvenir shops to commemorate your visit, theres also 'Cargo Cult' which is like a mini-tourist shop selling t-shirts and such like. The museum above Gough's cave is well worth a look. In this museum are remains found in the caves and a feature on cannibalism including theories on why it took place. Theres also Roman finds who mined the Gorge for Iron during their stay in Britain. Service throughout the Gorge is exemplorary, all staff are friendly and appear to be trained very highly and have very good knowledge. You will find no McDonalds or fast food outlets in Cheddar, the town remains largely unspoilt and the best way to eat is by the various Inns which lie in the Gorge. They are all child friendly and serve high quality home made meals for good value. ¬The future of the Gorge ? The cliffs of the Gorge are being deterioated year on year by vegetation which attacks the rocks, loosening it. This wasn't a problem in years gone by as sheepfarming was prevalent and the sheep ate everything in sight, however thesedays unprofitable sheepfarming in the area has ceased and the cliffs have been suffering. A short term measure has been a team of local people scouring the cliffs removing the vegetation by hand, this has been dangerous and only somewhat successful and a more longer term method is required to secure the future of Cheddar Gorge. A cablecar has been proposed above Cheddar Gorge providing visitors with an even more intense view of the cliffs, making the Gorge more disabled friendly in the process. This scheme, naturally, has a lot of opposition but the income it would generate could finance the re-introduction of sheepfarming in the area. It's a hard choice for the Marquiss of Bath who owns the Gorge and surrounding area to make but one he has to I feel to preserve the natural beauty of the landscape. ¬Conclusion I would highly recommend a day out at Cheddar whether your local or a visitor to the area. You will need a whole day to make the most of your visit. There are sights to be seen above ground and under ground and It's great value too. Lot's of areas like this have been spoilt by tourism but Cheddar doesn't fall into that category, it looks the same today as it would have done a hundred years ago. You could encorporate your visit with a trip to Bristol or Bath nearby, bed and breakfast Inns and Hotels are plentiful within a ten mile radius. ====================================================== www.cheddarcaves.co.uk (pre-book tickets and info) Cheddar Caves and Gorge info centre. Tel: 01934 742343 Rocksport Abseilling (pre-book tickets). Tel: 01934 742343 Thanks for the read ====================================================== WormThatTurned2003

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                  07.11.2001 14:44
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                  The Cheddar Gorge is a place that seems to have a split personality. There is the dramatic limestone gorge that is cut out in the rock and the collection of tourist attractions in the lower gorge. The gorge itself is three and a half miles long and is cut into the limestone rock on the south face of the Mendip Hills. The rock faces form the highest inland cliffs in the country and are a magnificent sight to see. You can drive along the gorge as it wanders from the top of the hills, increasing in majesty as it goes, ending near the village of Cheddar itself. For walkers there are a large number of paths and tracks that give splendid views over the surrounding countryside and the Bristol Channel. There is a popular cliff top gorge walk that takes about two hours to complete. This three mile round trip takes you through the 300 acre nature reserve where there are many rare plants, birds, bats, butterflies and dormice. Some of this track is quite steep and rocky and in places goes quite close to the cliff edge. I would not recommend this walk to anyone who is not very steady on their feet. There are two theories on how the gorge was formed. The first idea is that the gorge was an enormous underground cavern whose roof collapsed. The second theory is that the gorge was cut by summer melt water during the ice ages. I like the idea of the big collapse, it just seems more dramatic and feasible. Along the gorge the cliffs rise to 500 feet and in some places are close to vertical with heights of 300 feet. In all it is a very spectacular natural phenomenon that should not be missed if you are in the area. The alter-ego of Cheddar Gorge is the tourist area. This is at the lower end of the gorge, close to the village of Cheddar. Here there is everything that a typical tourist could want. Probably the biggest attractions here are the caves. There are two sets of caves (Cox’s Caves and Gough’s Caves). Years ago whe n I visited the gorge as a young lad I remember there being great rivalry between the two sets of caves, each vying for the visitors trade. However, it now appears that they are both owned by the same people and the competition has gone. There is now an Explorer ticket sold that gives a visitor entrance to both sets of caves, entrance to Jacob’s ladder and the cliff top lookout tower and a ride through the gorge on an open top bus. We did not feel like paying the £7.90 each for the Explorer ticket and we could not find any details of how you could pay to just visit one set of caves. You can buy a separate ticket for Jacob’s ladder (£2.50) and climb the 274 steps up the cliff face to the lookout tower at the top, where there are spectacular views over Somerset and the sea. Also in the lower gorge are a large number of craft and gift shops, which are all very pleasant and interesting. One particular favourite of my wife’s was The George Bear Co., which is a shop that just sells teddy bears, soft toys and dolls. There are over 2500 bears in this shop of all shapes and sizes. I could not believe the variety in this shop and also the prices of some of the bears! Also here there are a number of pubs, restaurants, tea rooms, and snack bars so you will not go hungry or thirsty. The prices of all of these were quite reasonable. There are also craft workshops and small museums, in total a very interesting and varied collection of attractions. Cheddar Gorge is a very popular visitor attraction and parking in the centre of the tourist attractions can be difficult, but for a long way up the gorge there are parking areas, but this may mean a bit of a walk back. All of the parking is pay and display at £2, but it is worth it. The whole area has a very quaint feeling to it and the mix of natural beauty and tourist attractions means that it has an appeal to almost everybody. You can certainly spend many hours at Cheddar Gorge and if you do buy the Explorer ticket, or decide to go for a walk in the hills, then it is going to be a full day out. This really is a MUST visit for anybody visiting Somerset as there is so much to see and do.

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                    15.05.2001 08:20
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                    This is a subject I'm excessively passionate about. And if you think that's cheesy, read on gentle reader... I HATE THEME PARKS, just the same way I hate those 'theme pubs'. In a pub I care about the people I'm with, not whether there are 5 girls doing a Coyote Ugly impression on the bar. Though having said that...hmmm... Anyway, returning to more mundane thoughts, I returned to Cheddar Gorge with some Russian friends of mine about two weeks ago, just for a holiday. Having lived there, I never bothered going to the tourist attractions...so often the case. I lived in Cambridge and never once went on the tour bus around all the colleges. THE CHEESY PLACE Cheddar. Yes it IS where the cheese comes from. If you taste the real article though, you'll never buy the supermarket stuff again...!!! Cheddar cheese was first made there in the 12c and was aged in the nearby caves. Traditionally the firm curd is cut into small bits to drain away the whey and then pressed firmly into cylinders of 12-15 inches wide, wrapped in muslin, coated with wax and aged for a year or so, as far as I can remember. Many exquisite varieties of the famous cheese can be sampled and bought in the town. The free samples are in the fridge at the little shop just opposite the entrance to the caves - more about them in a bit) However Cheddar is famous not only for cheese; it lies at the mouth of a spectacular gorge in the Mendip Hills with panoramic views from the cliff-top walk (not for the faint-hearted) Within the gorge are the equally spectacular caves. Yes, you can see stalagmites and stalagtites in every caves, but there is something hauntingly beautiful about Cheddar caves. If you can, go early in the day, and you might get it nearly to yourself, before the hoards arrive. And one other thing...TAKE A COAT even if it's 30 degrees outside. It's still COLD in the caves. Artifacts have bee n found in the caves dating back to stone age times, and the caves date back many millions of years themselves. The caves are now fully illuminated and are mostly open to the public - but some bits are closed off for safety reasons. When you've had a good bit of Scrumpy (the third pint will have you legless, believe me!), and bought some of the mouthfuls of pure gold that is the cheddar (buy loads! you'll eat a fair bit in the car on the way back home...!), you must also visit Glastonbury. The annual festival is the best time to visit although tickets for it are pricey. If you want the best place to stay, go to Canon Grange bed and breakfast in Wells, which overlooks the Cathedral. The food and hospitality there are second to none, believe me. CONCLUSION - maybe I'm biased, but give it a try...if you want something peaceful, something that will relax you, go to Cheddar for the weekend. Well worth it. And your tastebuds will love you for the rest of your life...

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                      20.02.2001 20:22
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                      Cheddar Gorge is a 500-foot high cleft through the Mendip Hills with stunning scenery and various places of interest to visit. It is reached by leaving the M5 at either junction 21 or 22 and following the signposts through Axbridge. There are a number of caves open to the public where you can have a guided tour and see stalactites and stalagmites and many fascinating rock formations. You can also see the 10,000-year-old skeleton of ‘Cheddar Man’, discovered in Gough’s Cave, in the adjoining museum. There is a climb up to the top of the cliffs known as Jacob’s ladder with tea-rooms at the top so that you can be fortified for the descent! The view from the top is superb. You can pay and visit each of these attractions individually or you can purchase a ticket that allows you to visit them all for a discounted price. There are shops selling Cheddar Cheese and locally made cider as well as the traditional gifts. The cheese in particular is a must buy. It tastes quite different to the Cheddar you buy in the supermarket I can tell you! If you're an arctophile like myself (a teddy bear collector for those of you who don't know what an arctophile does!)there is a lovely teddy bear shop in the row of shops adjoining the car park about half way along the Gorge. There are a scattering of tea shops, restaurants and pubs along the base of the gorge together with three large car parks, but it does get very busy in the height of the season.

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                        02.11.2000 03:02
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                        Cheddar Gorge, the UK's answer to the grand canyon!! Well, its not half as good as the American version but it is worth a visit. I think I should start by saying that if you don't like commercialised areas then DO NOT go here, the main street is full of gift shops, ice cream vendors and restaurants. There is a series of attractions to visit, including caves and a big climb, although it must be noted that these are not cheap. They do however provide a great day out, and feature many beatiful and awesome views. The gorge itself (that is why you would go) is good but not spectacular. Access to the top is hard, if at all possible so you are resticted to looking up from the bottom. The town itself is pictureque, a nice little river runs down the main street. There are plenty of bed and breakfasts to stay in, and a great selection of restaurants and pubs to eat in. A day and a night at the Gorge will be all the time you spend in Cheddar, but it would be a good base for a holiday, and a very beatiful town to spend a while in. Overall, a good visit.

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                          20.09.2000 23:50
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                          Cheddar Gorge. Sounds kind of dull and cheesy doesn't it? You might think of quiet dairy farms and rolling green hills with maybe a few picturesque cottages scattered across the landscape, of course, if you did you would be totally and absolutely wrong! Cheddar gorge is the more awe inspiring landscape I can image. A huge great chunk seems to have been eaten out of a mountain and you're walking/driving right through the middle of it. The moutain almost hangs over your head on either side, only by looking straight up do you see the sky above and as the road twists and turns and winds further and further down it's like descending into a lost world. When you finally reach the bottom, try to shelve your disappointment at finding yourself in a tacky shopping centre rather than a town or village. Give the cheese shop a quick visit and try chedder how it is meant to be and then get yourself into the caves as quickly as you can. Now you'll have found the lost world you thought you were approaching - it's like a fairytale kingdom with the light sparkling off the rocks and the drips of water falling musically into rockpools on either side. Some of the special effects are breathtaking, but nothing compares to the sheer magnificence of the caves themselves, millions of years worth of stalagtite growth and natural formations that are more beautiful than any mortal artist could hope to recreate. Simply stunning.

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                            29.06.2000 05:11
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                            I think nearly all familys have a holiday in cornwall or Devon, well the ones who live closer to the S.East of England are more likely too have done. There is a place called Chedder Gorge, in or near summerset, and it is amazing! All the rock formations are made over thousands of years by water and limestone, some of it has been dug out and been pathed so people can see more, But it is an amazing sight. You are taken through by a guide, he also talks to you and tells you different parts of the caves history. He also points out limestone formations, when I went last year, they pointed out a lump of limestone on the floor, it did not look like much, but then he pointed out that it looked like an elephant! and It did! there was a couple of things like that. There is also a paper mill there and you can have a go, but it is a bit messy! but fun. I loved it there, but I personaly would not take very young children in there, as it is quite dark, and some parts of the caves are very slippy, you would not be able to take a buggy through the caves as there are a lot of steps to go up at some points, but even so, It is a great place to go. The price to get in varys depending on the time of year, but at a rough guide, I paid about £5.00 per adult, I had no children at the time, so I can't comment on prices for them. they also close the caves for some of the year, so look up their phone no before you go and cheak they are open to visitors when you want to go.

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