Cheddar Caves and Gorge
...a world of high cliffs and deep caves, of good and evil, of human occupation and nature
Discover the underworld deep in the caves and enter the world of our ancestors, the world of predators and prey, of doorways to the spirit world and homes to our ancestors. Then gaze at the sheer size of the gorge cliffs and wonder at such a natural phenomena.
Great family days out await covering history and heritage, nature and conservation and even sports - there’s so much to do at Cheddar Caves and Gorge.
The gorge is recognised and a site of special scientific interest and is the finest example of karst limestone geology in Britain where the cliffs rise 450ft. It is also a special area of conservation, the highest European wildlife designation, due to the large number of protected species including Greater and Lesser Horseshoe bats, Great Crested Newts and Doormice.
A multi level preatic cave formed some 15,000 to 500,000 years ago by the water flowing through and dissolving the limestone rock. The water level fell leaving the calcium enriched water dripping through the rocks to form the exotic and beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. The cave entrance was used by our ancestors for a 1000 years and Cheddar man, a Mesolithic hunter gatherer - the oldest complete human skeleton - was found buried here.
The cave gets its name from an eccentric Victorian showman called Richard Gough who, in the 1890’s, dug out the silt covering the entrance and uncovered the huge chambers known as St Pauls Cathedral and the Diamond Chamber. Cheddar cheese made by the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company is still stored in Gough’s cave.
The walk into the cave covers around a quarter of a mile and an audio-guide aides you through the story as you go and there is a children’s version to keep the young ones amused.
Cox’s Cave and the Crystal Quest
A smaller cave with gothic splendour, silent mirror pools and fantastic calcite sculptures which are brought to life with the flickering light and an enchanting musical score. The name comes from George Cox, a local mill owner who discovered the cave in 1837.
Next to this was Pavey’s cave, where a gentleman named Roland Pavey had walled up a small quarry to create his very own showcave. When the leases on the caves reverted to Lord Bath in 1987 both caves were joined.
The natural beauty, the dancing fountains and stories of underworlds and legends of dragons and fights of good against evil create a wonderful arena for a crystal quest, a dark-walk fantasy of magic and adventure for the imaginative minds of all ages to follow.
The Lookout Tower
Built by the eccentric Roland Pavey who called it his mystic tower it had an original wooden watch tower which has now been replaced by a wrought iron one. There are 274 steps leading up to the tower from the valley floor to the top of the cliffs which gives a dramatic view of how the gorge was carved out of the Mendip Hills. From the wrought iron lookout tower there are 48 steps up to a circular viewing platform.
At the top the views are stunning from Glastonbury Tor to the Somerset Levels which make the climb all the more worth the effort.
Cliff Top Gorge Walk
Why not enjoy some of the most stunning views in Somerset by following the 3 mile circular cliff top gorge walk starting at the lookout tower. Discover the flora and fauna of the area and lookout for wildlife whilst enjoying the views and maybe a picnic along the way. The walk along the cliff top is at 900 ft above sea level so wear suitable clothing and boots as it is rocky and can be muddy and always be careful near cliff edges.
Gorge Bus Tour
Board one of the historic open topped double decker busses and enjoy and guided tour through the dry prehistoric river bed. See where the mill stream once powered seven grist and powder mills for grinding grain and gunpowder, look out for water voles swimming around and peregrine falcons swooping at up to 245 mph, travel through the famous horseshoe bend and underneath the Pinnacles, three fingers of rock 450 ft high and then finally disembark at Gough’s Cave. The bus operates every day from April to the end of September weather permitting and at various other times. Please check for running times.
Museum of Prehistory
Follow the life of our prehistoric ancestors with artefacts such as flint tools and human remains together with live demonstrations of survival skills, life sized models and a hunter-gatherers encampment all presented to take you through the 40,000 years of life through successive ice ages. See the Cheddar man skeleton and the butchered remains of 3 adult humans and 2 children thought to have been the victims of cannibalism. There are hands on activities and discussions with re-enactors for the children although some supervision may be required due to the graphic nature of some of the exhibits.
Rocksport Adventure Days
Adventure caving and rock climbing for beginners is available with expert leaders and all equipment provided.
Adventure caving is available all year round and sessions last approximately one and a half hours.
Rock Climbing is available between April and September again for one and a half hours, with seven routes to choose from.
Why not give it a go? An ideal and safe place for your first caving or climbing experience so call now to arrange with the Rocksport team.
Climbing access is also granted freely by Cheddar Caves and Gorge for more serious rock climbers who are members of the British Mountaineering Council or the Mountaineering Council of Scotland. Please check directly for further details.
Check the Caves website for opening times and prices or contact:
Cheddar Caves & Gorge, Cheddar, Somerset, BS27 3QF
Tel: 01934 742343
Other attractions in the area:
King John’s Hunting Lodge
Wookey Hole Caves and Papermill
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015