Towering above the village of Cheddar are the jagged 500ft cliffs of the magnificent Cheddar Gorge, and whilst tea and trinket shops abound around the caves themselves, the original village ¼ mile away provides a calmer and intriguing overnight stop.
Cheddar is a long, linear, straggling settlement which jostles for space with the River Yeo which emerges from Gough’s Cave to flow through the centre of the village. It was in this cave that Cheddar Man was discovered in 1903 – the 9000-year-old remains of a man from the Mesolithic.
Now housed in the Natural History Museum in London, this is Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton. Both Gough’s Cave (discovered by Richard Gough in 1890) and Cox’s Cave (discovered by Gough’s uncle George Cox in 1837) farther down the road are open to the public and are well worth visiting.
Those that stay here will get the best of both worlds, whether you want to explore the caves or climb the 274 steps of Jacob’s Ladder to the top of the gorge (with fantastic views from a lookout tower), then you can do this at the end of the day or early in the morning before the throng of visitors arrive.
If you have the time then you can discover the history of Cheddar by following the Historic Cheddar Walk - a 2 mile route around the village which takes in the hidden historical features of the town which many of the day trippers just don’t get time to see.
The walk visits the Kings Arms - Cheddar’s oldest surviving inn, Cheddar’s medieval market cross and the beautiful 14th century St Andrew’s church. Inside here look for the brass of a knight on the tomb of Sir Thomas de Chedder, a wealthy Bristol merchant, and below him on the floor, the brass of his widow, Lady Isabel de Chedder, dressed in wimple and widow’s weeds.
You will be spoilt for choice when deciding where to sample local fare with plenty of cafes and restaurants to choose from and in the Gorge area it feels like every other premises is an eatery of some sort.
Ice cream lovers will want to head to Ice Dreams ice cream parlour towards the bottom of the town, which offers over 80 different flavours to choose from and over 70 different flavours of milk shakes, all locally produced on Somerset farms.
Be careful with the local cider though – the specialist cider shop in the village is not called Leg Bender for nothing!
Cheddar, of course, is also synonymous with Cheddar cheese which has been crafted here in Cheddar for some 850 years. From the Pipe Roll, a sort of Medieval treasury record, for 1170 we know that King Henry II bought 4.6 tonnes of Cheddar cheese at a cost of a farthing per pound weight. It is said he declared Cheddar cheese to be the best in Britain. Although Cheddar cheese is now made all over the world, you can still see it being produced here today - where it all began.
Rest Days at Cheddar
For information on what to do on a rest day in Cheddar, please see our Activities Away From The Trails Page and select the "Somerset" filter.