Thursday, 17 February 2011

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset

Cheddar Gorge in the Mendip hills of Somerset is made of Limestone Rock. The walls of rock can be accessed and viewed from the road that dissects it. It is probably better known for the origin of Cheddar cheese, the underground cave system and the subsequent village it has created.

The cone fairy and yellow line rules !
Cheddar Gorge is a small distance from the village of Cheddar but this place has developed as a commercial centre and is a village in its own right thanks to the tourist industry. I remember visiting the place as a child, so it was with some interest that I returned.

A few general overview pictures first before I finish off with the main attractions on offer...

Street with cave entrance in the background ...1960's !!

Old Rowlands overlooking the river, Cheddar Gorge

Derrick's Tea rooms, Cheddar. Picturesque house converted into tourist shops.

Although I don't want to sound too cynical and negative, it is possible to take your eye elsewhere by cropping your panoramic view and seeing some of the unspoilt natural beauty around that still exists.

House on the hill, Cheddar Gorge

The Gorge, Cheddar Gorge
Although I never visited the village in high summer in recent years, the first thing that struck me is the difficulty with traffic and car parking. The first time car visitor normally drives up the street looking for a car park nearer the attractions and ends up unsuccessfully in the walls of the Gorge viewing spectacular scenery while trying to remember that a car or a tourist bus is travelling behind them. It is virtually impossible to park anywhere except the main car park and as it is not on a vast scale, the local authorities seem to encourage short term parking.

The Old Cheddar Barn, Cheddar Gorge
The products of Somerset and The West country are readily on sale here and even though it is difficult to  verify authenticity, it doesn't deter the visitors, there are other business's who try to counter the problem with their own commercialism ...

Loads of the stuff ...
Cheese has been produced here since the 12th century as the adjacent caves provide the ideal environment for its maturing. Evidence suggests that ancient kings visited to purchase the cheese from Henry II to Charles I.

... and a bit more !
In the 1860's, Cheddar cheese production was standardised with modern equipment by Joseph Harding who was a local dairyman. Even though the real Cheddar cheese is meant to be made within 30 miles of the village, Harding introduced the cheese and process to Scotland and USA while later his son took it to Australia.

The Cheese was matured at cold consistent temperatures and humidity in Cheddar Caves. Larger caves were discovered by cave explorers Cox and Gough in 1837 and 1903. These intricate underground chambers are another reason to attract the tourist although it seems like more of a parallel Harry Potter theme park at times ....


  1. The last time I went to Cheddar Gorge was 35 years ago and I'd just cycled around the Cornish, Devon and Somerset coasts. It was a very hot day and I bought a bottle of home made scrumpy cider (I don't suppose they would allow that these days)from a stall in the gorge, the next thing I remembered was waking up in a hedgerow; it was extremely strong stuff!

  2. Wow you sure do get arojund. More stunning photos pity about the cheese though ....... not a patch on Wensleydale . LOL

  3. Oh, there's everything I like in this post - Somerset, cheddar and cider:)

  4. Love the house on the hill, the blue/white house, and the cheese sounds really interesting.

  5. Great photos--such a quaint little village in such a picturesque place. Cheddar Cheese--interesting to learn all about it. Thank goodness someone came up with it--how could we possibly live without Cheddar Cheese!

  6. So I'm wondering, is Wisconsin Cheddar or Cheddar Cheddar better?? Hm. I see I need to visit this place. It is too bad, however, that so much has been commercialized. I should have been there 35 years ago. And maybe I could have warned Colin about the scrumpy. This does look like beautiful countryside! Photos 3, 4, and 6 are especially nice views!

    Have I asked you if you've been to north Cornwall?

  7. A very nice and informative post, J_on_tour, I like it! Thanks for sharing.

  8. i like the quaint little town but i think i will be bored after awhile. will i?

  9. Jay, this is the fourth visit..I didn't know how to respond!....I used to climb here thirty odd years ago.... and odd years they have been. Called a couple of years ago for the Book festival at Hay on Wye, a rip off even by my standards. A gang of thieves and vandals. I don't mind paying but I won't pay for half a book. Beggars razoring illustrations, selling them to the gallery down the road. Take me a week to find the book.
    It is a dramatic place but as you suggest not user needs a park and ride. A totally traffic free zone between dawn and dusk would do nicely. That includes geriatric go-karts.
    Having said all this I appreciate your treatment of it, The first image is my favourite and almost tempts me back.
    Feel free to delete this........I would were it on my blog.

  10. Cheddar made in Cheddar - sounds nice.
    The caves where the cheese was left to mature- interesting and worth a visit even by people like me that are not great cheese fans.
    Lovely photos, all of them!

  11. What a lovely post.
    Never been to this part of the world, but I will certainly have to go now.
    Lovely pictures, I look forward to next post as i`m back in sickbed and your posts cheer me up!

  12. What I like best in your post is the information given and the wonderful set of photos of course!

  13. Great pictures, and a beautiful village.
    Have a nice weekend:)


  14. Hhhhhhhhm, I love this cheese and your interesting serie of images, too! I wish you a fine new week and send hugs from Luzia.

  15. Somehow I like the caves the most, and how the locals have put them to use the famous cheese! Its a combination of so many things that make the cheese happen (though I will have to admit that I have never ever tried in my life!)

  16. Nice post, good photos!
    See you :)

  17. Very informative post. The next time I eat cheddar cheese, I'll remember this story.

    Your photos are beautiful too esp the second to the last photo.

  18. Another very informative trip..
    Hmm cheese and wine of cause.
    But difficulties with the parking?
    Sounds like Greece :)))

  19. Reminds me a great deal of tourist attractions in the states -- a beautiful natural spot overlaid with tourist stuff. (See my recent post on Chimney Rock, North Carolina.)What is it with fudge -- why is it always for sale in such places?

  20. I think I've put on a stone just looking at your photos!! That's the thing about tourist places trying to park and forgetting you are one of them.

  21. I liked your post, i liked your beautiful photos and interesting text (as always) ...
    I like the cheddar cheese !! :)))


  22. Beautiful as usual, J! Now I want to go to Cheddar!
    Have a fabulous day!
    Debbie's Travels

  23. This Cheddar is almost like Dürnstein from Wachau/ Austria witch has kept its historic character and is regarded as the most romantic place (without the famous cheese , of course)!
    Anyway, the location and the mountains are almost the same...also no parking zone...ha ha

  24. Colin Griffiths... Thanks, My first brush with scrumpy was at a blues rock concert in a large shed music venue in Frome. Far too sweet for me, it kind of put me off.

    Greg... Thanks, Being a northerner, I prefer Wensleydale as well although there was something about sampling the products available !

    Joo... Thanks, I was glad I was able to visit here in this 6 month window of opportunity (digital camera purchase - leaving Somerset).

    Farmchick... Thanks, With the exception of the 1960's cave entrance building, the structures haven't changed although their functions have.

    Mickie... Thanks, Cheddar cheese seems to be world famous. So glad I could post about this important location.

    Cranberry Morning... Thanks, Wisconsin Cheddar.. noe there's a thing I've not heard of. Commercialism factor here 11/10. North Cornwall... I need that digital copier !! Stayed in Tintagel, visited Padstow, Boscastle(pre-flood), Port Isaac & Newquay. Bude & Clovelly (picturesque place) on the way back. Stayed in Penzance later for southern part and tip.

    Traveling Hawk... Thanks, Nice to have you here as always.

    Lily Riani... Thanks, I agree, not enough to do to fill a day unless you walk to the top of hill.

    Adrian... Thanks, I know what you are saying about Hay. The castle was the worst for me but the old cinema building did it for me in the book department. I visited Cheddar on numerous occasions and usually only for about 2 hours prior to going on to Wells for lunch.

    DUTA... Thanks, the cheese originally in the caves is a bit of a surprise that people don't link together.

    Karen... Thanks for the comment, Hope by the time you read this that you have recovered.

    Phivos Nicloaides... Thanks for your great comment.

    Berit... Thanks, I appreciate your comments.

    Luzia... Thanks, I hope I have not made you hungry !

    Siddhartha Josh... Thanks, It seems to be a pilgrimage for cheese lovers.

    Andras... Thanks for your comment.

    Rizalenio... Thanks, I'm pleased I made this post memorable for you.

    Monika... Thanks, Similarities between our countries... now if we could just have some of your weather !

    Vicki Lane... It's a shame about natural places like this. Many people think when visiting these parts that it is a south west thing but then again as you say, it's sold everywhere.

    George the Lad... Thanks, that's a good point about being sucked in to being another tourist and contributing to the chaos.

    Mahon... Thanks, I hope you don't have too much cheese after reading this !

    Debbie Smith... Thanks for your encouragement.

    Wind... Thanks, I'm pleased that you can associate with this place. The tourist can not win here, they are wanted and yet they are not. The car is the only reasonable way of getting here.


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