“He stood staring into the wood for a minute, then said: “What is it about the English countryside — why is the beauty so much more than visual? Why does it touch one so?”
Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle
Sadly, I cannot travel overseas as much as I’d like: not only am I restricted by working full time, I also (even more sadly) don’t have an unlimited budget. So, as a buffer between trips, I’m trying to explore more of the UK. I won’t pretend I find Britain as exciting as other locations, but I have found a few places I’d like to tick off my list. I’m going to try and write about each place I’ve been, and whether I think you should visit.
First up, Cheddar.
Cheddar is a village situated in Somerset, England, and yes, it is where the cheese originates. I like cheese as much as the next person, but the main attraction for me was Cheddar Gorge and the caves.
So not only is it home to the popular cheese in the Britain, but it also has the the biggest gorge in Britain, and is where Britain’s oldest complete skeleton was found. Cheddar is great if you’re interested in nice scenery, history… and cheese.
What can you do there?
Cheddar is as a tourist destination (don’t worry, it still retains a lot of village charm.) With this, you can buy a ‘Cheddar Gorge & Caves’ ticket (around £20) which gives you entry into the caves, a museum, and a walk on the gorge. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t particularly happy that I couldn’t walk for free, but the caves are interesting enough that I didn’t begrudge paying for the ticket in general.
We went into Gough’s Cave and really enjoyed exploring. I won’t go into too much detail, but the history goes back to Neolithic times (beginning about 15,200 BC.) The cave itself is pretty fascinating; the audio guide details it’s history, it’s discovery and the science behind it. Also, you get to see the Britain’s oldest complete skeleton (pictured.)
You can also go adventure caving for an extra fee (we passed on this.) They’ve recently introduced a free fall in Gough’s cave, too.
The biggest draw of Cheddar for me was the clifftop views. It had been raining the day we visited (shocker) so the paths were muddy; we were advised to do the shorter walk to the cliff head then return, rather than attempting a full clifftop walk.
The view was beautiful, and I really do recommend doing the walk, but if you’re unfit (like me) take into account it starts with 270+ steep steps, and is entirely uphill. If that’s not your thing, it may be worth giving it a swerve. Also, wear decent shoes, other wise you’ll slip and fall like my boyfriend. (Don’t laugh at people who fall, because the next day you’ll also fall over in public. True story.)
What can I eat and drink?
Cheese. Nothing but cheese. (Kidding, but there is one remaining cheddar producer, and you can see how it’s made and try samples.)
Cheddar has lots of cosy tea rooms and eateries. We ate at the Lion Rock Tea Rooms which we loved; super cutesy, great food and friendly service.
Drinks wise, Somerset is the ‘west country’ which is famed for scrumpy cider (a rough, dry, farmhouse cider) so you need to try some. Go to Legbenders Cider Shop where you can try a sample of the cider, and purchase should you wish. I didn’t like it, but Eric loved it. You win some you lose some.
Where can I stay?
You can stay in Cheddar itself, but I would recommend staying further out but still nearby, it’ll likely be less expensive. And if you’re lucky like me, it’ll have cute cats.
Yes. It’s pretty, it’s interesting and everybody we met was incredibly friendly. A nice escape into the countryside. It was calm when we visited (October) but I hear it can be busy in the summer.