Cheddar Gorge – OS Explorer Map 141 (1:25,000) & OS Landranger Map 182 (1:50,000)
The Cheddar Gorge Cliff walk is an enjoyable day out in another of England’s Area’s of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Situated in the beautiful Mendips it is where the 9,000 year old remains of Cheddar Man were found. Cheddar Gorge is considered the second greatest natural wonder of the UK behind Dan yr Ogof caves in Wales. The cliff faces rise steeply either side of the B3135 providing amazing views in every direction. Parking can be challenging and if you park in the Gorge I’d advise not to be tempted by a ‘shortcut’. Many of the paths that lead up the slopes of the Gorge are to give access to climbers and as tempting as they look it is worth walking to the proper start point for this walk!
The starting point for this walk is the car park by the closed Cox’s Mill Hotel at the southern end of the Gorge – Grid ST463538. There are a number of places to park (including further up the Gorge) and you will need £5 in coins. Walk up the pavement towards the Gorge for about 250m’s then turn left onto Cufic Lane.
A short distance later and you will see the path lead up on the right. The initial climb takes you through old woodland of Ash, Oak and Hazel before the path levels out allowing some spectacular views of Cheddar and the Reservoir. When you break the woodline there is an option to turn right to a vantage point at a bend in a wall at Grid ST 468543. Once on top of the Gorge the path is easy going with plenty of places to admire the view. Nature is in abundance here but often it is set against the blatter of a baffleless biker or boy racer enjoying the road below.
Descending to the South Cliffs
After about 1.5km you will start to descent back down to the B3135 Cliff Road. Someone has taken the time to cut steps into the slope here so it is fairly easy going.
Take care crossing the Cliff Road. I didn’t find the ascent on the other side too bad, mainly because I had warmed up a bit. The Southern side was more popular than the northern and I had a sense that people often just explored around here. This side had more cliff top exposure! The main path is well defined and is away from the cliff edge, however a less used path takes you along the edge. This is the one I used. As always care should be taken with the cliff edge path. It’s a long way down! For the brave there is a sharp pinnacle just south of the Cliff Road ‘S bends’ at Grid ST472542 that can be accessed.
Towards the end of the walk there is a metal lookout tower. I thought this was free to go up but it seems it is tied to the Cheddar Caves attraction below. The National Trust Site on this walk has more detail. It was open and unmanned and with no other info I went up. It did offer good views to the West of Cheddar but nothing I hadn’t already seen on my way around. I descended Jacob’s Ladder steps to the car park and later found out these belong to the Cave experience too. In the event I wasn’t challenged and turned around at the bottom – there are 274 steps!
In line with the National Trust link above you should turn left before the tower and descend to Lynch Lane. Then turn right onto The Lippiatt back to Cliff Road and the car park. There are plenty of Cafes and Restaurants to temp you on your last 100 or so metres. Have fun!