Six miles west of Wookey on the A371, the nondescript village of Cheddar has given its name to Britain’s best-known cheese – most of it now mass-produced far from here – and is also renowned for the Cheddar Gorge, lying beyond the neighbourhood of Tweentown about a mile to the north.

Cutting a jagged gash across the Mendip Hills, the limestone gorge is an amazing geological phenomenon, though its natural beauty is rather compromised by the minor road running through it and by the Lower Gorge’s mile of shops and parking areas. Few trippers venture further than the first few curves of the gorge, which holds its most dramatic scenery, though each turn of the two-mile length presents new, sometimes startling vistas.

At its narrowest the road squeezes between cliffs towering almost 500ft above. Those in a state of honed fitness can climb the 274 steps of Jacob’s Ladder to a cliff-top viewpoint looking towards Glastonbury Tor, with occasional glimpses of Exmoor and the sea (daily: 10am–5.30pm; winter 10.30am–4.30pm; £4.80, free to Cheddar Caves ticket-holders) – or you can reach the same spot more easily via the narrow lane winding up behind the cliffs. There’s a circular three-mile cliff-top Gorge Walk, and you can branch off along marked paths to such secluded spots as Black Rock, just two miles from Cheddar, or Black Down, at 1067ft the Mendips’ highest point.

Cheddar Caves

Beneath the towering Cheddar Gorge, the Cheddar Caves were scooped out by underground rivers in the wake of the Ice Age, and subsequently occupied by primitive communities. Today the caves are floodlit to pick out the subtle tones of the rock, and the array of rock formations that resemble organ pipes, waterfalls and giant birds. Tickets include a trip through the Gorge on an open-top bus.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

England features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best pub walks in Britain

The best pub walks in Britain

From its dramatic coastline to its upland mountains, from its stirring moorland to its bucolic inland shires, Britain’s wildly diverse landscapes make for som…

28 Mar 2018 • Daniel Neilson insert_drive_file Article
Taking the plunge: the joys of wild swimming in Britain

Taking the plunge: the joys of wild swimming in Britain

Travel writer and wild swimmer Joe Minihane travels from London to the Isle of Skye in search of one of Britain's most remote wild swimming spots. A pair of …

22 Mar 2018 • Joe Minihane local_activity Special feature
The many faces of Bristol: Britain's coolest city

The many faces of Bristol: Britain's coolest city

Bristol's enterprising spirit is one reason we named it the coolest city in Britain earlier this year. And this spirit is all down to the chefs and artists a…

21 Dec 2017 • Ruth-Ellen Davis local_activity Special feature
View more featureschevron_right