- Delve deep into the history of our ancestors and explore the dark caves of Cheddar Gorge.
- Try your hand at rock climbing or caving with the help of expert instructors.
- Learn about the Cheddar Man, the oldest complete skeleton ever found in the UK.
- Challenge yourself to the dizzying cliff top walk, and reach the Lookout Point where you can take in the views.
- Sample some local Cheddar cheese at the gift shop.
Not just the name of the nation's favourite cheese, Cheddar Gorge and Caves are much more than meets the eye. A natural landmark to top all others, this fascinating location is the perfect place for mini explorers and adults alike. Take a trip underground to see the perfectly preserved caves that were last lived in during the Ice Age, or take a cliff top walk and check out the Lookout Tower. You'll also find the Museum of Prehistory on the site, with artefacts, demonstrations and much more.
Located in the picturesque Mendip Hills of Somerset, Cheddar Gorge is a stunning natural gorge that offers dramatic views over the landscape. However, the unique thing about this area is the fact that it sits on top of a network of caves that were used by humans for 40,000 years. Gough's Cave, one of the largest caves on site, is over 500,000 years old and is where the oldest complete skeleton in Britain, Cheddar Man, was found in 1903. He lived around 10,000 years ago, and if you happen to visit London, you can see his skeleton displayed at the Natural History Museum. Since the caves are nice and cool, they preserved his DNA, meaning we can now learn all about our prehistoric ancestors. This also means that the caves are naturally kept at a regular temperature of 11 degrees centigrade all year round, which is handy when you come to visit. While you explore the caves, look out for the dramatic stalagmite and stalactite structures, which have formed over thousands of years. Plus, keep your eyes peeled for the Black Cat of Cheddar, which is a famous shadow cast by the light in There are audio guides available that will help bring you back in time to when these caves were forming all those years ago. Plus, there's even a children's version for mini explorers who want to learn all about the caves.
Once you've checked out the mysterious caves of Cheddar Gorge (or if you'd rather stay above ground), there is still plenty to explore on your trip to Cheddar Gorge and Caves. The beautiful cliff-top walk is around three miles long and is famous with families and seasoned hikers alike due to the breath-taking views over the Mendips. Along the spectacular route, you'll see sheep, primitive goats and lots of local wildlife, not to mention the great views. Plus, if you have a ticket to Cheddar Gorge and Caves you are free to explore the whole of the Nature Reserve, which spans 360 acres. If you feel like a challenge, climb up the 274-step-long Jacob's Ladder, and then on to the Lookout Point, where you can take in the panoramic view across the Somerset skyline, before carrying on along the cliff-top walk.
And, for an experience like no other, check out the Beyond the View attraction located near to Gough's Cave, where you can enjoy a 15-minute viewing of footage from all around the local area, with a virtual tour.
For explorers who want to get to grips with the landscape, there are also a selection of rock climbing and caving activities at Cheddar Gorge Caves that kids and adults can enjoy. First, outdoor climbing walls are available, where experienced instructors will teach you everything you need to know about rock climbing, then you can have a go at taking on one of the 50ft walls. There are lots of routes available, whether you're experienced or a newbie, so the whole family can get into the rock climbing spirit. For those who are a little more advanced, there are also over a thousand routes around the Cheddar Gorge area for members of the British Mountaineering Council.
Daredevils of all ages should head inside the caves to explore the homes of our prehistoric ancestors, with Adventure Caving activities, such as the terrifying Black Cat Free Fall, where you'll (safely) jump off the edge of a 30ft ladder in amongst the Black Cat Chamber and Gough's Cave. Not for the claustrophobic, Adventure Caving is also a great way to see the caves Cheddar Gorge is so famous for. With the help of expert cavers, you'll be led around tunnels and caves where you'll crawl, climb and explore the depths of the Gorge caves. There are two experiences on offer, one for adults and older children, and one junior experience for kids which involves a slightly shorter route.
For those who are keen to learn more about the history of Cheddar Gorge Caves, head to the Museum of Prehistory where you'll find out about how our ancestors survived the Ice Age, as well as finding out all about the Cheddar Man. You can even check out archaeological artefacts and watch a cave painting demonstration from one of the experts at Cheddar Gorge!
Once you've got suitably muddy from all the climbing, caving and exploring, you'll probably have built up a bit of an appetite. If you fancy a coffee and a snack, there is a Costa Coffee on site where you can enjoy a light lunch or something to keep you going. Not to mention, you can also buy Cheddar cheese that was matured in the caves in the gift shop! Or if you feel like something a little more substantial, the village of Cheddar is just a couple of minutes drive away, where you can find cafés and restaurants to suit all tastes. Of course, there are also plenty of places to buy some cheese to take home as a souvenir. If you're planning on staying in the area and are looking for a B&B near Cheddar Caves and Gorge, The Old Police House in Cheddar Village is the closest.
If your family were fascinated by the history of Cheddar Gorge Caves and want to make the most out of your trip when you visit Somerset, head to the stunning Wells Cathedral to enjoy some ancient local history. Or, for some seaside air, check out Weston-super-Mare beach for a great family day out by the shore.
What to know before you go
- Cheddar Gorge Caves opening times are from 10am-5pm daily during peak times, and 10am-5:30pm the rest of the year.
- Most of the caves and walks are not accessible for buggies or wheelchair users; however, the shop and museum are accessible. While there are four designated break stops along Jacob's Ladder, it isn't recommended for those with limited mobility.
- There are accessible toilets located on site, but no baby changing facilities.
- Please note that the cliff-top walk can be challenging in areas, with some steep and slippery paths.
- Rock climbing, the Black Cat Free Fall and Adventure Caving is available for ages 8+. An adult must accompany children, and there are weight and height requirements detailed on the Cheddar Gorge Caves website.
- Cheddar Gorge Caves are easy to get to by car. Please note the roads are steep so drive carefully.
- Car parking is available at Lakeside, opposite Dreamhunters, with the largest car park at Gough's Cave. Parking costs £5 per day.
- The nearest train station is Weston-super-Mare, where you can take the FIRST Bus 126 (or 826 on Sundays) to Cheddar.