The Cheddar Gorge Walk is one of Somerset’s finest hikes. Otherwise known as the Cheddar Gorge Circular Walk, Cheddar Gorge Cliff Top Walk or Cheddar Gorge Hike, the trail provides awesome views of the immense gorge. The trail itself is a relatively short one, but it’s quite steep and challenging in sections, making it a thrilling adventure and a must-do for hiking enthusiasts in the UK.
Cheddar Gorge is the UK’s highest gorge measuring 137 metres. Other than driving through it, walking Cheddar Gorge is the best way to enjoy it. The Cheddar Gorge Walk is a convenient loop route, which involves hiking on either side of the gorge; the highlight being the Pinnacles landmark – a section of epic crags and limestone cliff wall.
In this guide, we’ll describe the route, provide GPS-guided directions, discuss nearby accommodation and show you amazing photos of the hike, which includes aerial photography. You can even check out drone highlights of the Cheddar Gorge Walk in our YouTube production below.
The Cheddar Gorge Walk is the Best Trail Option
There are actually a few trail options when it comes to walking in Cheddar Gorge. But, the circular Cheddar Gorge Walk is definitely the best option. This trail takes in all the highlights of the gorge and its beautiful countryside. So, this trail is the obvious choice if you’re wanting to explore as much of the gorge as possible. At 5.8km, the trail itself is relatively short, so to choose a shorter trail, where you’d see less of the gorge, would be doing yourself an injustice!
But, many walkers will only walk the south ridge of the gorge, as this side has the most well-known attractions, including the Pinnacles and Jacob’s Ladder, otherwise known as the Cheddar Gorge steps. Indeed, the trail on the south ridge is well signposted and very popular. But, instead of doing an out and back of this side of the gorge, it makes sense to do a loop. This way, you’ll get to explore more of the outstanding limestone rock creating an even more enjoyable hike.
Table of Contents
Cheddar Gorge Trail Preview
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 5.8km
- Time: 2.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 369m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Black Rock
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Cheddar Gorge Walk Map
The Cheddar Gorge Walk is fairly straightforward in terms of navigation. But, if you’re unfamiliar with the area, it may be worth having a Cheddar Gorge map with GPS directions. Feel free to use our Wikiloc GPS-guided Cheddar Gorge map.
The Cheddar Gorge Walk
Where to start the Cheddar Gorge Walk? Many hikers start their adventure from Cheddar village, which involves a short walk from town to reach the Cheddar Gorge Walk. But, we recommend starting at Black Rock, where you’ll find free street parking. From there, we recommend following the route in a clockwise direction to experience the best of the hike in the first half of your adventure.
In doing so, you’ll immediately begin to ascend rocky terrain, meandering through the forest. Soon enough, you’ll reach the top of the southern cliffs that form one wall of the gorge. The trail flattens, with farmland to your left and the deep gorge to your right.
Views of the opposing cliff walls are magnificent. But, the rugged crags and amazing cliff edge beside you are even more impressive. There are several amazing cliff walls on the southern edge of the gorge to admire, but our favourite landmark was the Pinnacles.
The Pinnacles are an incredible cliff landmark, made of numerous small ridge outcrops, which look absolutely immense. There are no fences atop the cliff top, so be very careful when exploring these ridges. From the Pinnacles, the views of the gorge, and particularly, the horseshoe bend, are unbeatable.
Only through the lens of the drone, were we able to capture better views and perspectives of Cheddar Gorge during the walk.
When we visited, a thick fog covered Cheddar village and the Cheddar Reservoir. But, the gorge was luckily free of it. After more sublime cliff edges and gorge views, you’ll begin to descend and soon arrive at the end of this particular track. After checking out the Lookout Tower, it’s time to follow Jacob’s Ladder down onto the road.
The North Side of Cheddar Gorge
Very briefly, you’ll follow the road in the direction in which you parked. But, after 50 metres or so, you’ll cross the road and re-join the Cheddar Gorge Walk. You’ll see signs for the Draycott and West Mendip Way, make sure you don’t follow this direction.
You now have your second steep climb of the day awaiting you. Maybe it’s because we were tired from the first climb, but the second ascent felt tougher. After quite a slog, you’ll reach a flat and grassy path.
During this part of the walk, the cliff edges of the northern edge of the gorge aren’t quite as spectacular. But, at least, you’ll have great views of the opposing cliff edges. Given this part of the walk wasn’t quite as exciting, we enjoyed speed hiking along sections of this track.
What is speed hiking? It’s taking your hiking to the next level! Practically speaking, speed hiking is a great way to transition quicker through a less inspiring part of a trail.
We chose a grassy crag as a suitable spot for lunch to take in the beautiful gorge. It’s only by doing the loop route, that you’ll get to see the gorge from each side, making it one of the best Cheddar Gorge walks.
After reaching the 5km mark, you’ll reach the end of the track. Simply follow the trail descending back to the roadside to complete the circuit!
The Cheddar Gorge is an excellent hike in Somerset. By doing the Cheddar Gorge Walk, which involves walking on each side of the gorge, you’ll have the most satisfying hiking experience in the area. Make sure to spend extra time at the Pinnacles during your walk, as they’re an amazing limestone cliff edge landmark.
Directions to Cheddar Gorge
Getting to Cheddar Gorge using public transport is possible but it’s a bit of a ball-ache. You’ll need to get the 126 bus from Weston-Super-Mare train station to the Wells bus station in Cheddar. The bus takes around 50 minutes, and doesn’t run on Sundays.
Driving to Cheddar Gorge is definitely the simplest option. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, consider renting with RentalCars.com – they have an unbeatable free cancellation policy.
Cheddar Gorge Walk Free Parking
To complete the Cheddar Gorge Walk, we recommend street parking at Black Rock, which is for free. There are plenty of other car parks to choose from closer to Cheddar village, but you’ll have to pay for them.
Google Maps Cheddar Gorge Parking
For your reference, here’s an interactive map showing Cheddar Gorge parking.
Cheddar Gorge Camping
Why not do the Cheddar Gorge Walk as part of an awesome weekend camping trip? So, which is the best Cheddar Gorge campsite? We’ve sussed out the three best campgrounds near Cheddar Gorge for the perfect weekend escape.
Cheddar Caravan Club Site
The Cheddar Caravan Club Site is perched on the edge of Cheddar Village and has incredible views of the Mendip Hills and countryside surrounding Cheddar Gorge. This camping area has fantastic facilities, including an amenities block, washroom, laundry, WiFi, disabled facilities and is dog friendly. This Cheddar Gorge campsite accommodates electric and non-electric tents pitches as well as car based camping.
Petruth Paddocks is an all-time classic camping option in Somerset. It’s a fun and laidback camping area located right at the doorstep of the cliffs of Cheddar Gorge. Better yet, you’re just a stone’s throw away from the Cheddar Gorge. Campfires, showers, toilets and Wifi are all included, and there are even shepherd huts, bell tents and other glamping options for hire!
Located just around the corner from the Cheddar Caravan Club Site, Cheddar Bridge is another stellar spot for camping. For those wanting a quieter campsite, Cheddar Bridge offers a more peaceful and relaxed atmosphere. With luxurious facilities, pristine riverside pitches and gorgeous views of the Mendip Hills, Cheddar Bridge is a top-notch Cheddar Gorge campsite.
Cheddar Gorge Hotels
Maybe it’s time you treated yourself to a hotel stay as part of your Cheddar Gorge hiking experience. We’ve got you sorted with three idyllic Cheddar Gorge hotels.
Bath Arms Hotel
Look no further than Bath Arms Hotel for an unforgettable stay near Cheddar Gorge. The hotel is just 10 minute walk away from the Cheddar Gorge Walk and has free parking on-site, as well as a restaurant and bar! Rooms are spacious with all the bells and whistles one would expect from a four-star hotel. Plus, they provide an awesome breakfast, that’ll help with walking around Cheddar Gorge.
The Oakhouse Hotel & Restaurant
Located in nearby Axbridge, the Oakhouse Hotel and Restaurant sits at the foot of the Mendip Hills. So, you’ll only be a mere five-minute drive away from the Cheddar Gorge and Caves. Parts of the hotel date back to the 11th century and still have some amazing original features, including an inglenook fireplace. With fantastic modern facilities as well, you’ll have the best of both worlds.
Perfect for a weekend trip, Gordons Hotel is another brilliant Cheddar Gorge hotel. It’s within striking distance of the Cheddar Gorge, making it a convenient location for ticking this hike off your bucket list. The hotel offers excellent facilities, as well as a garden and pool. Sounds like you’ll be going for a dip after the Cheddar Gorge Walk.
If these Cheddar Gorge hotel and camping options don’t tickle your fancy, your best bet is to search for accommodation using Airbnb or Booking.com. Although, be sure to book somewhere with a reasonable free cancellation policy, just in case!
Other Walks in Cheddar Gorge
There are many other superb Cheddar Gorge walking routes. In the nearby Mendip Hills, you have the Black Down Walk, which actually overlaps the Cheddar Gorge Walk. Black Down is the highest point of the Mendip Hills, and one of the finest natural landmarks in Somerset.
There’s also the Strawberry Line, which forms part of the national cycle network. But, it’s also a great hiking trail and makes for one of the best walks near Cheddar Gorge.
If you’re looking for an easy Cheddar Gorge Walk, you should consider the Cheddar Reservoir Walk. It’s a flat trail, which encircles the human-made Cheddar Reservoir. It’s actually a great walk to combine with the Cheddar Gorge Walk. Think of it as a nice cool-down after smashing out the more difficult cliff top walk.
And, for another gorge walk, there’s also the nearby Ebbor Gorge. Starting from Wookey Hole Car Park, about 20 minutes from Cheddar, Ebbor Gorge is another epic circular gorge hike. Similar to Cheddar Gorge, you’ll have outstanding views of the Somerset countryside.
Cheddar Gorge and Caves
Of course, you shouldn’t forget about the magnificent Cheddar Gorge Caves during your visit. Visiting the Cheddar Caves, otherwise known as the Cheddar Gorge and Caves and Somerset Caves, is another great activity to do after the Cheddar Gorge Walk. For more details, head to the information centre in Cheddar, or, head here.
Five Hiking Gear Essentials
These are our five hiking gear essentials for the Cheddar Gorge Walk. For a more comprehensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Otherwise, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a trip, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
- Add the Cheddar Gorge Waterfall to your Cheddar Gorge Walk: located near Cheddar village, this small human-made waterfall is a worthwhile short detour from the official walking route. You can easily check them out after descending Jacob’s Ladder.
- Explore the Mendip Hills AONB: The Cheddar Gorge Walk is just one amazing walk in the Mendip Hills. There’s also the Crook Peak Walk, which is definitely worth doing if you get the chance.
- Can dogs go to Cheddar Gorge? Yes, Cheddar Gorge is a pooch-friendly destination.
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