Longleat to complete £100k extreme spring clean in Cheddar Gorge

PUBLISHED: 17:00 15 March 2018

Rope access technician Rob Tucker at Cheddar Gorge. Picture: Dave McGirr

Rope access technician Rob Tucker at Cheddar Gorge. Picture: Dave McGirr

Dave McGirr

A team of specialist technicians will tackle a £100,000 project to give Cheddar Gorge a spring clean.

Fifteen rope access technicians will clear loose rocks, vegetation and invasive plant and tree species from the iconic natural landmark.

The six-week programme will involve around 37,500sqm of rock face and is the largest clearance and conservation procedure to take place in the gorge for years.

The team will use mesh and wire to stabilise and tie back areas of the rock face to protect people, vehicles, buildings and wildlife in and around the gorge.

The programme will also see the catch fences, which can be spotted throughout the gorge, cleared of rocks and repaired to ensure the safety of people using the canyon.

The work, which has already started, is due to be completed prior to the Easter holidays and was not delayed by the Beast From The East which hit Somerset on March 1.

Gorge operations manager Leon Troake said the new programme would use ‘modern methods’ to avoid closing the whole gorge, which is not only a popular tourist attraction but also a busy commuter route for people who work in nearby Wells.

He added: “The team is able to maintain and manage rocks in situ rather than having to prise large chunks off.

“The gorge is home to a large number of rare and important native plants and flowers.

“This remedial work means we can also begin to remove invasive species including ivy, red valerian and ash trees which will provide more growing space for endemic species like the Cheddar pink which is only found here.”

The area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) requires round-the-clock care to ensure it remains accessible and this project is one of the biggest ‘spring clean’ operations to be completed in recent years.

Britain’s largest natural gorge is also home to colonies of greater horseshoe bats, dormice, great crested newts, and Britain’s largest flock of ancient Soay sheep, and of course, goats.

The gorge and caves are owned and operated by Longleat which will foot the bill for the project.

It will is also upgrading and revamping its other attractions in the area, including the viewing tower at the top of Jacob’s Ladder, which is due to undergo a refurbishment later this year.

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