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.
If you’re looking for the perfect base from which to explore this gorgeous Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Swan Inn in the village of Rowberrow is just a 10 minute drive away, with 9 beautiful boutique bedrooms, a delicious food offering focused on hearty pub classics and fresh flatbread pizzas, and plenty of award-winning Butcombe beer on offer!
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, and the discovery place of the oldest complete skeleton ever found in Britain – the Cheddar Man.
The ticket price also includes entrance to the Museum of Prehistory (located opposite the caves), the Jacob’s Ladder climb, the interactive Dreamhunters exhibition in Cox’s Cave, and the cinematic Beyond The View experience.
Jacob’s Ladder & The Lookout Tower
Included as part of a Cheddar Gorge & Caves ticket, climbing Jacob’s Ladder is an absolute must for visitors of Cheddar Gorge. It’s not for the faint-hearted (a steep 274 steps to the top!), but those who make it will be rewarded with incredible views of the surrounding Mendip Hills and the gorge below.
For those that really want to push themselves, 48 more steps will get you to the top of the Lookout Tower for panoramic 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 embark on the iconic Cheddar Gorge Cliff Top Walk – a spectacular 3 mile circular stomp across the top of the two gorge ridges. Elevated over 900ft above sea level, the walk offers stunning views over the rolling Mendip Hills, Somerset Levels and the village of Cheddar itself. Walkers are also likely to bump into the free-roaming flocks of primitive goats and rare Soay sheep along their way!
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 caves of Cheddar Gorge were historically used to mature the cheese with their humidity and steady temperature providing the optimum conditions, a method still used today by The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company – Cheddar’s only remaining cheesemakers. Stop by their shop in the village to watch the traditional cheesemaking process from start to finish whilst enjoying some free tasters of their cave-aged Cheddar!
The Swan Inn In Rowberrow
Located just a 10 minute drive from Cheddar Gorge and caves, The Swan Inn is a 17th century Grade II-listed pub and inn, brimming with history and a cosy, welcoming vibe.
With 9 stunning boutique bedrooms, an all-day food offering focused on delicious pub classics and flatbread pizzas and plenty of award-winning Butcombe beer on the taps, The Swan Inn is the ideal base for those looking to explore this stunning Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as well as the surrounding Mendip Hills.