A Visitor’s Guide To Cheddar Gorge & Caves In Somerset
With its awe-inspiring cliffs and extraordinary subterranean caves dripping with stalagmites and stalactites, Cheddar Gorge in Somerset is one of Britain’s most dramatic landscapes, attracting over 500,000 visitors every year.
Explore Britain’s Biggest Gorge, Just 15 Minutes (8 Miles) From The Ring O’ Bells
If you’re looking for the perfect base from which to explore this gorgeous Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Ring O’ Bells in the village of Compton Martin is just a 15 minute drive away. With 2 beautiful boutique bedrooms, a delicious food offering focused on hearty pub classics and plenty of award-winning Butcombe beer, you can dine, drink and stay.
Cheddar Gorge & Caves
The famous gorge and caves were formed over a million years ago during the last Ice Age, when water from melting glaciers formed a river which carved into the limestone rock beneath to create the dramatic cliffs and caverns we see today.
Visitors can purchase a ticket to gain access to Gough’s Cave, the largest and most impressive show cave in Cheddar with cathedral-like caverns decorated with stalagmites and stalactites. Gough’s Cave was also where the oldest complete skeleton ever found in Britain – the Cheddar Man – was discovered.
Also included in the entry ticket is entrance to the Museum of Prehistory (located opposite the caves), the Jacob’s Ladder climb, the interactive Dreamhunter’s exhibition in Cox’s Cave and the cinematic Beyond The View experience.
Jacob's Ladder & The Lookout Tower
Included as part of the Cheddar Gorge & Caves ticket, climbing Jacob’s Ladder is an absolute must for visitors of Cheddar Gorge. While it may seem like a daunting task (it takes 274 steps to reach the top), the panoramic views of the Mendip Hills make it all worthwhile!
If you have a little extra stamina, another 48 steps will see you reach the summit of the Lookout Tower. From here, you will enjoy picturesque views of the Somerset Levels to the south and of the windswept plateau that runs for over 22 miles east-to-west if you look to the north.
Cheddar Gorge Cliff Top Walk
From the top of Jacob’s Ladder, you can tackle the famous Cheddar Gorge Cliff Top Walk! This is a breathtaking 3 mile circular stomp across the top of the two gorge ridges and is elevated over 900ft above sea level! You will be rewarded with unbelievable views over the rolling Mendip Hills, Somerset Levels and the village of Cheddar itself. If you are walking alone, the free-roaming flocks of primitive goats and rare Soay sheep will be there to keep you company!
For those looking to avoid the steep Jacob’s Ladder climb, the walk can also be accessed from within Cheddar Village, opposite the National Trust centre. Find detailed instructions here.
The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company
Now famous across the world, Cheddar cheese originates from the tiny village of Cheddar, with records of cheesemaking in the village dating back to the 12th century.
The humidity and consistent temperature of the caves offer the perfect conditions to mature cheese, with this method still being employed by The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company to this day!
As Cheddar’s only remaining cheesemakers, you can visit their shop in the village and watch the traditional cheesemaking process from start to finish. Be sure to enjoy some free tasters of their cave-aged Cheddar!
Directions To The Ring O' Bells From Cheddar Gorge & Caves
Located just a 15 minute drive from Cheddar Gorge & Caves, The Ring O’ Bells in Compton Martin is the perfect place to dine, drink or stay after (or before) a busy day exploring the Mendip Hills.
To reach the Ring O’ Bells from Cheddar Gorge & Caves, you must head north on Cliff Road for approximately 3 miles. Turn left onto the B3371 and continue onto Ewe Lane, before turning right onto Shire Lane. Turn left onto Harptree Hill and continue onto the A368 where you will find the Ring O’ Bells on your left