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7 reasons you should take a trip to Cheddar this summer

PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 May 2017 | UPDATED: 09:12 19 May 2017

Cheddar Gorge

Cheddar Gorge

Archant

Cheddar is home to the UK’s very own Grand Canyon, with the biggest gorge in the country but there is more to this Somerset village than meets the eye. This is seven reasons why you should make Cheddar you next short getaway destination.

Cheddar Gorge and Caves Rocksport instructor George Rodwell installs the glowing eggs. Picture: Longleat Cheddar Gorge and Caves Rocksport instructor George Rodwell installs the glowing eggs. Picture: Longleat

1. Caves

Below the surface of this village is a whole cave system waiting to be explored. Owned and operated by Longleat, Cheddar Gorge and Caves can take people of all ages back thousands of years.

Visitors can walk around Gough’s Cave, which is around 500,000 years old, and hear the fascinating story of its Ice Age creation, Stone Age occupation and Victorian exploration.

The cave is also home to Britain’s oldest complete skeleton, which is around 9,000 years old.

Food page Food page

2. Food and drink

Cheddar boasts a whole host of unique eateries as well as a cider orchard or two. The Bath Arms, White Hart and Riverside Inn are the three main pubs in the village and each one offers its own tailor-made menu.

Cheddar, along with its surrounding villages, is famous for its strawberry season and producing some of the best-tasting strawberries in the country.

But Somerset would not be complete without its beer and cider offerings. Cheddar Ales produces a whole host of delicious ales and bitters, as well as holding a festival each year. But it does not stop there – Thatchers Cider is just a short drive away in Sandford and, if you are lucky, they hold a cider tasting session every now and again.

Cheddar and Bramble Cheddar and Bramble

MORE: 10 of the best places to sample Somerset’s finest food and drink.

3. Nature and wildlife

Cheddar is in the heart of the Mendips’ Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which, not only offers spectacular views, but also a flurry of different wildlife.

A visit to Cheddar offers the opportunity to discover some of the county’s rarest and most celebrated animals.

Goats, soay sheep and Horseshoe bats are just a few of the animals in the area, and there are some animal charities in the area which support the local ecosystem, including Somerset Wildlife Trust and Prickles Hedgehog Rescue.

Cheddar Gorge. Cheddar Gorge.

Cheddar is also considered a hot-spot for bird watchers, who can spot ravens, kestrels, buzzards and the world’s fastest bird in flight – Peregrine falcons.

4. Scenery

Between the gorge, the AONB and the village itself, Cheddar offers some of the most spectacular scenes in Somerset.

If you are feeling adventurous, climb the 274 steps which make up Jacob’s Ladder and be rewarded with stunning views of Somerset. From the top of the gorge you can cast your eye across the Mendips to Glastonbury Tor and beyond.

MORE: 25 photos which prove North Somerset is somewhere you should never visit.

The road through Cheddar Gorge. The road through Cheddar Gorge.

5. Local businesses

From the restaurants to the shops, each business is owned and operated by the local people.

There is a fantastic variety of shops to browse through in both the village and the gorge itself, with no two businesses the same.

The village prides itself on having a strong community and the atmosphere around the area makes every tourist feel welcome.

This picture of Cheddar market cross was sent into iwitness by Paul Cousins. This picture of Cheddar market cross was sent into iwitness by Paul Cousins.

6. History

Cheddar continues to grow and change everyday, with new housing developments planned and new businesses just starting out.

But the village is also bursting with history, from the gorge itself and the cave systems dating back thousands of years to the Market Cross, which dates back to the 15th century and lies in the centre of the village.

Cheddar has strong ties to the Anglo Saxon period, with Kings Of Wessex Academy, in Station Road, built on a palace with the ruins of a 13th century chapel at St Columbanus still visible today.

Sailing on Cheddar Reservoir. Sailing on Cheddar Reservoir.

MORE: 10 places of historic interest to explore in Weston and Somerset.

7. Sports and leisure

From walkers to thrill-seekers, Cheddar also offers a brilliant variety of sports and activities.

Longleat operates a Cheddar X-Treme course in the gorge where you can try rock climbing, abseilling and caving.

If heights are not your thing then how about taking to the water?

Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club offers different water sports on Cheddar Reservoir, such as kayaking, stand up paddle boarding to sailing.

MORE: 10 adrenaline pumping activities for thrill-seekers to do in Somerset.

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