A day out at Cheddar Gorge
One of Somerset’s biggest draws is the renowned Cheddar Gorge. A limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills, just 30 minutes from our Burnham-on-Sea Holiday Park, it’s a region of outstanding natural beauty and ancient history. The oldest human skeleton in Britain was found here, the 9000-year-old Cheddar Man.
There’s a lot to do here, and certainly plenty to fill a day out. Let’s go through some of the must-dos and must-sees on a day out at Cheddar Gorge and its surroundings.
Walk the Gorge
This is the one thing you must do if you visit Cheddar Gorge. The area was once voted the second-best natural wonder in Britain, and it’s an extraordinary place. Lying on the southern side of the Mendips, the gorge’s features reach 450ft at their highest and the countryside is very green and wooded, making for excellent walks whatever the weather.
Park on Cliff Road just east of the town of Cheddar and you can walk from several entry points into the surrounding countryside. Make sure you leave time to visit the extraordinary cave complexes. Be careful as you walk – there are big drops on these trails, and the wet limestone can get a little slippery.
Visit the Museum of Prehistory
If you want to know more about the Cheddar Gorge cave systems and the region’s geological history, then the Museum of Prehistory is a must-see. Come face to face with ancestors from 40,000 years ago, including the famous Cheddar Man.
There are exhibits of flint tools which bring home the harsh reality of life in neolithic times, and you can also learn how the gorge formed, and discover more about its river system and ecology.
Tour the caverns
First excavated in 1890, Gough’s Cave has earned its international reputation as a site of huge neolithic importance. This is where Cheddar Man was discovered, and it’s also the site of the largest underground river system in Britain.
The cave is over two miles long and more than half a million years old. There are massive chambers of stalactites and stalagmites with names like St Paul’s Cathedral and Solomon’s Temple which will take your breath away.
You might spot racks of maturing cheese down here since it’s a decent 11°C all year round. You can take a guided tour or try rock climbing or adventure caving here if you’re feeling brave.
Taste local cheeses
No visit to Cheddar Gorge would be complete without a tour and sampling at a local cheese factory. The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company is open every day, and you can take a VIP cheese-making tour which includes a visit to the cheese maturing store and an in-depth talk given by an experienced cheese-maker. Make sure you book in advance as tours sell-out fast!
Of course, you’ll be able to buy a range of award-winning cheddar and cheese products, gift hampers and extras. It’s cheese heaven!
Explore Cheddar village
Cheddar is a picture postcard pretty Somerset village with a lot of history. It’s well worth spending an hour or two just wandering. The underground river system in Gough’s cave spills out here.
Many of the prettiest cottages can be found on the Yeo River’s banks and you’ll find a series of small waterfalls and a dam build to control the flow. There’s a 16th-century market cross and many cute souvenir shops and cafes, where you can enjoy a cream tea or a Somerset scone.
Stroll the Cheddar Reservoir
If the Gorge is too extreme for a walk, then Cheddar Reservoir provides an easier circuit with stunning views. It takes around 40 to 50 miles to circle the water and you’ll see lots of waterfowl and farm animals during your walk. Dogs should be kept on the lead but there will be plenty of sniffs to keep them busy!
Play crazy golf
Sure, you can find crazy golf courses all over the UK – it’s a perennial family favourite. However, Cheddar’s miniature golf is one of the most fun and scenic on offer in Somerset. The 18-hole course is open seven days a week from spring to early autumn and is challenging enough to easily while away an hour or two.
Enjoy lunch in Cheddar
The Gardener’s Arms is one of the most popular watering holes and gastropubs in Cheddar, with local ales and hearty pub food including slow-cooked Somerset pork belly and pan-friend chicken breast with chorizo and parmesan.
Of course, in Somerset, cider is king, so you could also head to The Cider Barn with its unique wooden exterior and outdoor picnic tables to try a few of the local brews. It’s a boisterous place, with tasty pizzas and a bewildering array of ciders.
If drink isn’t your thing, you might prefer to enjoy one of the finest Indian restaurants in the region. Rasoi serves mouth-watering Indian and Bangladeshi dishes including Goan king prawns or, for bold chilli lovers, their Bangladeshi naga chicken.
There’s also an excellent Thai restaurant in Cheddar, the Zen Thai, with an extensive, great value menu and a warm welcome. The crispy duck salad and beef suki-yaki are standout dishes recommended by regulars. It’s rated the best restaurant in town, so book ahead during the summer.
Get on your bike
Or more accurately, get on someone else’s! Cheddar Bikes hire a range of different bicycles and they’re staffed by knowledgeable local enthusiasts, so you’ll get good advice on which routes to favour.
The Strawberry Line is a popular cycle route, part constructed, and part planned at time of writing. When complete it will stretch east to Wells and Shepton Mallet and west to Yatton, Cleveland and the Bristol Channel. Built on a disused railway track bed, it’s currently open as far as Yatton, which makes for an easy family cycle ride through lovely countryside.
Eat at the Bath Arms
Before you head back to us at Haven, you might want to pop into the Bath Arms, near the market cross, which has an ever-changing upmarket menu. Typical dishes includes slow-roasted belly pork, steaks, and imaginative vegetarian options such as their courgette bhaji burger.
It’s a little pricier than other options in town, but you’re guaranteed a luxury dining experience in convivial surroundings. The perfect way to end your day out in Cheddar Gorge.