Okay, before I get going on this post, I just need to get the following out of my system. I thought the Cheddar Gorge tourist attraction was awful. Partly, because it’s not really aimed at me or my situation, but also because it’s tacky & has spoilt a quaint village with overpriced hideousness. I’m sure that if you’re a kid you think it’s ace, but at my age, it’s awful and not worth the ticket price £20! (though I can reuse my ticket any time in the next 10 years. I won’t be doing that!) Once we bought out tickets (Poppydog went free), we headed down into a cave with a hideous audio tour. I hate audio tours. I can’t explain why, but I do. Needless to say, we didn’t spend long down in the cave. I could have lived without ever going down there to be honest. Not worth it in my opinion. I don’t think you need to buy a ticket to walk the Cheddar Gorge, as there are numerous ways you can access it without having to give up your precious money. (Can you tell I’m bitter about this?!)
The walk is awesome. Hard work, but awesome. We climbed the 200+ steps to get up to the cliff top walk and it’s a non-stop climb that, at times, feels like it is never going to end. (Can I just point out that I live in Oxfordshire, which is pretty flat on the whole?!) You don’t have to go very far before you realise that the views are pretty spectacular. The walk isn’t easy, as it’s fairly rocky so you have to keep an eye on where you’re walking.
Once we’d got to the top, we stopped for some lunch, which consisted of Tofurkey rolls, crisps and an apple. Lush! Poppy was ace walking the whole way up. She really enjoyed the smells and, as per usual, liked getting close to the edge of the cliff. I didn’t, so kept my distance! After lunch, we headed down towards the road. This was a pretty easy descent and we spotted some wild goats having a bit to eat too.
When you get down to the road, you have a choice. You can either walk along the road back to the hideous tourist attraction or cross the road and climb up the other side of the gorge. Having climbed a ridiculous number of flights already, common sense would probably say ‘just head back to the car’. But that’s not what we did! Powered by Tofurkey, we headed on to the other side of the road and started to climb the opposite side of the gorge. This wasn’t particularly easy. In fact, it was fairly savage. It’s a good job I didn’t know that worse was to come, as I would probably have just set up camp and move there to avoid walking up. It’s steep, uneven and very, very high. And I fell over.
There are some great flowers on the gorge and quite a bit of livestock, which I always love seeing. The view was breathtaking the whole way. Then you get to the descent. I was really pleased to be heading back down (the map tells you it takes two hours. This is a lie!) The final descent is terrifying. Now, I have dodgy knees and going down hills can cause me pain and I didn’t take my walking pole/stick, so I did have to go pretty slowly. But that descent is a killer. It just goes on and on, using leg muscles you never knew you had! The ground is also quite tricky, with massive tree roots and loose stones. When you get to the end, you (almost) want to kiss the ground. You definitely want to sit down and eat cake.
While the challenge of the walk was awesome, I wouldn’t do it again, just because it was so brutal. However, it does link in with the West Mendip Way, which I would be interested in walking and there is a nature reserve, which looks a little bit easier on the knees. We didn’t go into any of the shops there, as it was mega busy so we just headed back to our wigwam for a snooze and some cake.
The Walk: Brutal. It looks us about three and a half hours but we didn’t go particularly fast, plus I’m slow on hills and I fell over. We also stopped for a picnic. Having said that, you won’t want to rush it because it’s pretty awesome.
Cost: It can be free, if you go up one of the paths from the road, but if you want to climb the steps like we did (don’t!), it’ll cost you £19.95 of your hard earned pounds.
Car Park: There’s quite a bit of parking at the Gorge costing £5, but there are also lots of areas where you can park for free. If you get there late in the day, this might be your only option.
Refreshments: There’s a Costa at the tourist bit (woohoo) and about a million tea rooms (slight exaggeration!)
Toilets: There are some at the Gorge but I didn’t notice any others about.