Tag Archives: Cheddar Gorge

Cheddar Gorge – Somerset

We were heading to a camper van meetup in Somerset in early April. If we know we have to be somewhere by a set date we can look at our route and plan stops on the way. On this occasion we stopped in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset. Home of cheese and Cider! I have been to Cheddar before and couldn’t wait to take Louise.

Driving to Cheddar is beautiful from every angle and is a great place to use as a base due to the amount of campsites in the area. I have stayed at 2 different campsites in Cheddar now.

What is it?

scenic road through Cheddar
Cheddar Gorge

Cheddar is a limestone gorge on the south side of the Mendip Hills. It is where Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton was found during cave excavations in 1903. He has been named Cheddar Man and tests on his DNA show that 9,000 years since his death, there is a direct descendant of his living in the Cheddar area to this day!

Cheddar Gorge is a site of special scientific interest due to rare plants, caves and Vertebrate palaeontology. The gorge is 3 miles long and 400 meters deep! 2 of the caves are now open along with several other attractions such as the museum of pre-history. The museum displays many artefacts of great historical importance, that shed invaluable light on our ancestors and how they lived, have been found in Cheddar Gorge and it’s caves.

Jacobs Ladder

Jacobs Ladder is another attraction in Cheddar that’s included in the ticket price. At the exit of the Dreamhunters cave you can ascend the 247 steps straight up to the top of Jacobs ladder. Once there the panoramic views are breath taking. If your legs are still up for the challenge, there is the look out tower where you can go up even more steps (48) and take in the sights.

The climb is well worth the effort. You’ll be rewarded with magnificent views of the Mendips and beyond. To the south you’ll see the flat, lush water meadows of the Somerset Levels. To the north you’ll see the windswept plateau that runs for over 22 miles east to west! If you don’t fancy walking 247 steps back down you can always do some or all of the cliff top walks through a nature reserve.

Goughs Cave

At over 500,000 years old and excavated in the late 19th century, this is the most magnificent cave in Cheddar. I recall that the walk is around a quarter of a mile into the cave. In severe weather it has been known to flood to the entrance. You will also see where the famous Cheddar Cheese is put to mature at a consistent temperature of 11 degrees.

This cave system takes you through formations where the River Yeo carved its way hundreds of thousands of years ago. You can spot where whirlpools put pressure on the rocks and hollowed them out, as well as stalagmites and stalactites that have formed slowly over that time. St Paul’s Cathedral and Solomon’s Temple will have you in awe as you gaze up at rocks above you.

Ameneties

After your exploration of the caves, there are plenty of shops to wonder around. These include ice cream parlours – we found one with over 100 flavours! There are gift shops and cafes in the gorge as well as the obligatory Cheddar Cheese shop and the cider shops too.

If you don’t manage to visit all of the attractions in one day, don’t worry! you have a whole year from your purchase date to visit again and use the rest of the ticket.

You can walk into Cheddar Village where you will find supermarkets and other shops. Parking in Cheddar can be tricky especially if you have a larger vehicle so I would recommend staying on a site for a couple of nights and walking in!

Camping

I have stayed at 2 of the nearby campsites. Both easy to walk into the gorge and local shops.

Petruth Paddocks – Run by Jules and his family, Petruth Paddocks marks itself as a ‘free range’ campsite. With a lovely laid back feel and really clean facilities you will feel welcome here. Jules loved to drive around on his tractor and loan you a fire pit and sell you some wood. Its a great site for families, groups or just a quite get away. There is plenty of land and you can pitch where ever you like if you are happy on a field or they do have some electric hard standings available. If you want to splash out you could always hire a shepherds hut!

Cheddar Bridge – This is an adult only site, just a few hundred yards from Petruth. This quite site has the River Yeo running alongside it with many pitches able to take enjoyment from pitching close to the bank. It has plenty or hard standing pitches and a few camping pods on a field as well as 5 static caravans for hire. Facilities were clean and well kept.

We loved Cheddar and its such a beautiful place to visit. It is a popular attraction so in peak times it can be very busy. There are some lovely places to visit in the area too so we think you should make the most of it and stay longer!

Cheddar Gorge is linked with Longleat Safari Park and you can buy a duel ticket from the gorge ticket office.

If you are looking at purchasing cheap attraction passes then check out out bumper post!

First Campervan Meet Up

A campervan meetup is an event organised by someone usually from a group. It is where like minded campervan loving people get together and have fun. We had not been to a meet up before last night. Not because we didn’t want to but because we were usually working and couldn’t get the time off. Now we are free to travel we finally managed to get to one and what an experience!!!

Between Louise and I we are members of a several campervan groups on facebook. One of which (Women with Campervans) is a group for women and we find it very helpful. It is full of people of different ages, interests and reasons for loving to travel in a campervan. They posted that they were arranging a meet up at a pub (Tuckers Grave Inn, Radstock), in Somerset. Unsure if we were going to make it due to technical difficulties we decided to wait until the last minute.

Will we make it?

After a lovely day in Cheddar Gorge we drove 20 miles to meet this group of women and listen to their stories. We pulled up at around 6 ish and found a field with lots of camper vans in it. Its our first time parking Chewy on grass. Opting to stay at the top end of the field rather than get stuck in mud at the other end! (you can park on the gravel car park if you don’t want to risk the field). Happy smiling faces greeted us as we exited the vehicle and went to introduce ourselves. There were lots of different groups here for the meet up and the pub hosts events regularly. £5 for the pitch – no facilities apart from a portaloo.

we drove 20 miles to meet this group of women and listen to their stories. We pulled up at around 6 ish and found a field with lots of camper vans in it. Its our first time parking Chewy on grass. Opting to stay at the top end of the field rather than get stuck in mud at the other end! (you can park on the gravel car park if you don’t want to risk the field). Happy smiling faces greeted us as we exited the vehicle and went to introduce ourselves. There were lots of different groups here for the meet up and the pub hosts events regularly. £5 for the pitch – no facilities apart from a portaloo.

campervans

The Gathering begun!

We were not the largest van on the site – beaten by an old bus who did risk it to the end of the field. What a beauty! Wood burner stove, fixed bed and plenty of kitchen space she really did look homely. I would expect that that one doesn’t bend going around corners either! There were motorhomes, van conversions and tents. All were welcome here at the campervan meetup and it was quite evident that people would want to come and look around each others van.

We quickly retired to have a tidy up and open the cider, made the bed and shoved things in boxes. Once we were settled we hosted a few people who wanted to have a look inside our van. We then got invited to see theirs. Van lovers are very proud of their vans and at a meet like this rather than looking at pictures of their kids, you will find them swapping pictures of their vans and where they have been. It is so beautiful to see how many of them have customised their vans to suit their own needs. From storage space to kitchens, everyone is unique.

A friendly atmosphere in a calm setting

Everyone was so friendly, sharing drinks and stories. People just pulling their chairs up to tables and forming a group together, not shying away on their own. Even the way they were parked, almost in a terrace house formation – there was no 6 meter rule if you didn’t want it! Some pulled right up close to each other. I instantly felt like I had found a family. A gathering of people who just get it, you know? These people love to do what we are doing, whether its for a weekend, a week or full time.

We have met so many wonderful people, men and women, young and old, some with a travelling cat, some with dogs. Some single and some couples. It really doesn’t matter – they just want to hear about your travels and swap tips!

Emma and Louise tuckers grave inn

Entertainment

At 8pm the pub had arranged for live entertainment and a BBQ for us. They had a massive barn at the back of the pub and this housed a stage on a trailer, hay bales for seats, picnic benches outside and a massive fire pit to keep us warm. There were loads of people, I assume some of them locals as well as the campers.

2 bands played last night and this went on until around midnight. Everyone was drinking, dancing and talking, swapping stories about van life. Our favourite was a story about a lady who had a toilet on one side of the van and her kitchen on the other. She used to lean back on the toilet door as she was cooking and prepping food. Having recently revamped the van she had swapped the door for a curtain. Safe to say she had a slight mishap when prepping food and ended up stumbling backwards into the toilet cubical, landing on the washing up pile! How she didn’t end up with a spoon up her ass remains a mystery!

Tuckers barn

Tuckers Grave Inn

Tuckers Grave is thought to be Somersets smallest pub. With a Skittle ally and a beer garden its local charm shines through. Being in somerset it was no surprise that the main drinks were Cider! A great range of Cider to try so I tried 3 last night. The BBQ was lovely with burgers, sausages and pheasant pitta pockets on the menu.

The staff are so friendly and the cozy pub with its log fires and eggs for sale makes it an experience you won’t forget. It’s not uncommon here for you leave with a whole bunch of new friends and I hope that is the case for us. This bunch of individual souls, each on their own journey but with such care and compassion for others really gives me hope that maybe we can turn this world around. There is no ego here, no pretence. just people coming together.

Louise was worried that after we left ‘society’ to live as nomads, we would find it hard to reconnect with the world if we dipped back in to the ‘matrix’. If we can meet up with others in this environment I think we will be just fine!

Tuckers Barn live music

The gathering continues

As I write this some of the group have left, the rest of us are planning on staying another night. Louise made a lentil soup and fresh bread which we shared with some of the women. We have been invited to join them tonight in the skittle ally for an open fire and games night. I am already thinking about how much I will miss this group and want to see these people again.

Meeting new people makes me anxious and I don’t mind telling you that I was really nervous to come here. If this weekend has taught me anything it’s to stop worrying what others think of you and just be yourself. If you are genuine and true to yourself, this bunch will love you. It’s been a fantastic 24 hours and I cant wait to see what this evening brings.

If you haven’t already been to a campervan meetup I would thoroughly recommend it. It was so much fun.

Although we only have last nights experience to go on I have been told that it was quite typical for a campervan meetup so get on those groups and join up – check events and see whats near you.

To all of the people we have met this weekend, and to all others we may meet in the future, Cheers!