From the largest gorge in the United Kingdom to the most popular cheese in the world, there are certainly plenty of interesting and unique things to discover in the town of Cheddar.
Cheddar is most known for being the birthplace of cheddar cheese but there are many more fun things to see and do in this cute village than simply cheese-tasting!
In this post, we’ll be sharing our top picks for places to visit in Cheddar, including the best places for stunning views and some adrenaline-pumping activities.
We hope you enjoy learning about this fascinating village and be sure to let us know in the comments which Cheddar must-sees we should add to our list!
… just beware of the goats.
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR VISITING: If you plan to cover all of Cheddar’s paid attractions, then hands down the best value is the Cheddar Day Ticket, which includes entry to pretty much all of the Cheddar tourist attractions listed below. If however you only wanted to do the clifftop walk or walk through the gorge, this can be done for free (more on that below).
1. Cheddar Gorge
As the largest gorge in the United Kingdom, with stunning caves to explore and plenty of interesting history, Cheddar Gorge is definitely one of the unmissable things to see in Cheddar.
Cheddar Gorge is a limestone gorge that’s home to a number of show caves which were created by an underground river.
Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton, Cheddar Man, was found here in 1903 and is believed to be around 9,000 years old! There are also a number of feral sheep and goats roaming around the gorge, the sheep, in particular, are quite a unique aspect of the local ecology!
There are many ways to experience the beauty of Cheddar Gorge for yourself, including…
- Driving through it
- Walking through it
- Rock climbing on it (more details here)
- Hiking with views over it
- Exploring caves under it
We’d recommend both driving and walking through the gorge so you get to fully appreciate the views.
Of course, if time and determination permits, doing one of the famous hikes above the gorge (like the Cheddar Gorge Clifftop Walk) is also a great idea for sweeping views over the local area, although to be honest, some of the best views of the gorge itself are from ground-level.
2. Gough’s Cave
There are also a number of caves located within the gorge, two of which are open to the public and together make up the most popular Cheddar tourist attractions.
Gough’s Cave is the larger of the two show caves, it’s more than 500,000 years old and was discovered in 1903 by retired sea captain Richard Cox Gough. The first section of the cave is open for viewing, with lights illuminating the incredible rock formations.
Don’t be surprised if you see shelves of cheddar cheese ageing here, the conditions are ideal for maturing. There are even some optical illusions created by the lights, make sure you keep an eye out for The Black Cat of Cheddar, a shadow which looks like a cat wearing a bow tie!
Thrill-seekers can also enjoy adventure caving here, crawling and climbing through the depths that most visitors to Gough’s Cave don’t get to see.
PRACTICAL INFO FOR VISITING: Gough’s Cave contains some quite steep steps, and can be wet underfoot so it’s unsuitable for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility. Tickets include entry to Gough’s Cave, Cox’s Cave, the Museum of Prehistory, and more in one day. Check current prices here.
3. Jacob’s Ladder (and the Lookout Tower)
One of the most famous Cheddar attractions is Jacob’s Ladder, a steep staircase that brings you up 274 steps for beautiful views over Cheddar village, Cheddar gorge and the surrounding area.
Named after Jacob’s dream of a ladder leading to heaven in the Bible, this particular ladder is built up the side of the gorge and while it’s quite steep, there are sections where you can stop for a break. If you’re not too out of breath by the top, then you can climb an additional 48 steps to reach the very top of the Lookout Tower.
NOTE: While there is a fee to climb up Jacob’s Ladder, it’s not the only way up, so if you’re looking for a free alternative to reach the top, you can follow a variety of other trails, like this one provided by the National Trust.
4. Cheddar Gorge Clifftop Walk
After walking the stairs of Jacob’s Ladder you will then find yourself at the top of the cliffs surrounding Cheddar Gorge, and the beginning of the Clifftop Walk.
The Cheddar Gorge Clifftop Walk is a three-mile route that goes up one side of the gorge and back down the other, with the most spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. On a clear day you can see for miles across Somerset, since the top of the cliff is located 900 feet above sea level.
Wildlife enthusiasts will particularly enjoy this walk since it provides opportunities to spot rare European species such as horseshoe bats, dormice and great crested newts, as well as the delicate Cheddar pink flower which is only found in Cheddar!
PRACTICAL TIPS FOR VISITING: Bring layers, as it can get windy and cold on top of the cliffs. Walking boots are also important, as the ground is very rocky plus it gets slippery and muddy if it rains. And of course, be careful of the cliff edges!
4. Along Cheddar Yeo
Cheddar Yeo is the river that flows underground through Cheddar Gorge and emerges above ground near the entrance to Gough’s Cave.
The underground portion of Cheddar Yeo is the largest underground river system in Britain but it’s the above-ground section in the town of Cheddar that we found particularly enchanting. For example, there’s a small waterfall in the Cheddar Rising pond area and further along some statues of Soay Sheep.
Just next to the Soay Sheep is the Cheddar Yeo Sword, a sword rising out of a stone in the middle of the river! We don’t recommend wading in to try and retrieve the sword, but continuing to wander through Cheddar along the Cheddar Yeo provides plenty of pretty spots for photos, and there are some lovely shops to visit along the way.
5. Dreamhunters at Cox’s Cave
One of the more unusual places to visit in Cheddar is the second, smaller of the show caves, Cox’s Cave.
This cave was discovered by local mill owner George Cox in 1837, while he was quarrying limestone. What makes this cave more unusual is that while it contains plenty of beautiful natural rock formations it has also been transformed into a multimedia experience called Dreamhunters.
Dreamhunters uses projectors, sound systems and lighting to tell the story of early man, from prehistoric times onwards.
Cox’s Cave is also notable in that many of the natural rock formations encompass minerals which make them different colors. Even though it’s smaller than Gough’s Cave, Cox’s Cave is just as spectacular and well worth a visit!
6. Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company
If you want to sample some authentic cheddar cheese then the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company is one of the best places to visit in Cheddar!
This shop is located on The Cliffs road, just down from the caves and is ideal for picking up any cheddar cheese-based gifts or souvenirs, as well as having a snack or lunch. Apparently, this is the only place where you can still get cheddar made IN Cheddar, so it would almost be rude not to visit.
Aside from tasty treats, you can also book a behind-the-scenes guided tour to see how cheddar cheese is made in the on-site dairy. Of course, this interesting tour includes cheese tastings plus you get to take home a wedge of cheese and a box of cheese straws – a delicious kind of cheese pastry.
7. Museum of Prehistory
Located in the former home of Richard Gough (who discovered Gough’s Cave) the Cheddar Museum of Prehistory is a fascinating place to learn about prehistoric life in the area.
While Cheddar Man is currently on display at the Natural History Museum in London, many other prehistoric remains have been found in and around Cheddar Gorge, which can be viewed at the Museum of Prehistory. These artefacts give viewers a glimpse at how early man survived during the last Ice Age.
There are interactive exhibitions and displays showcasing many aspects of ancient culture from cave painting to cannibalism! If you’re lucky you might even get to see performers in costume demonstrating how fires were made and other ancient skills.
8. Simply Gorgeous Cafe
The Simply Gorgeous Cafe tearooms and gift ship is one of the best Cheddar destinations for refreshment.
It’s easy to spot as you walk down the main road from the caves, with the upper floors painted bright yellow and love heart decorations all along the side.
There are a number of places you can get lunch or a snack in Cheddar, but this one is particularly cute and cosy. Keep an eye out for the old games and toys sitting on shelves around the tea rooms.
We can definitely recommend their delectable breakfast baps and their cream tea which comes with a gigantic scone! Don’t miss out on the Gorgeous Gift Shop which is attached as well, with lots of local products available to take home.
9. Legbender Cider Shop
If you want to grab some of that famous Somerset cider before you head home, then another place in Cheddar worth visiting is the Legbender Cider Shop.
This little shop specializes in local ciders, with a lovely selection of drinks and gifts, as well as samples as well if you want to try before you buy. Choose from cider-flavored chutneys, preserves and more, as well as local cheeses to go with your drinks.
A standout souvenir of course would be the 3L pouch of Legbender scrumpy, which comes complete with its own tap. Having snagged one for ourselves, we can confirm it’s actually pretty delicious!
10. Cheddar Market Cross
Admittedly, it’s not the most exciting place to visit in Cheddar, but since this is a part of the village that many visitors miss, we felt this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Cheddar Market Cross, which dates back to the 15th century.
Located on Bath Street, this cross is both a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade II listed building… although it has been repaired and rebuilt several times, even as recently as 2012, when a taxi crashed into it and caused two pillars to collapse.
Nearby, you’ll also find the Bath Arms, which is considered by many to be among the best pubs in Cheddar!
11. Cheddar Reservoir
Cheddar Reservoir is where water from the Cheddar Yeo is stored and used as drinking water for local residents, but there are also a number of recreational activities to do in and around the reservoir.
Constructed in 1937, Cheddar Reservoir has a capacity of 1,350 million gallons of water and was the first British reservoir to permit sailing on the waters. Today the reservoir is a popular location for sailing, walking and wildlife spotting. It’s even been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the number of wildfowl that winter in the area.
There’s a walking/cycling track all the way around the perimeter of the reservoir, which is a lovely spot to get some fresh air on a nice day. As well as a couple of sailing clubs there are two skate parks but mostly it’s just nice to walk around on a completely flat track – which is a welcome change from the rocky clifftop walk!
12. Black Cat Freefall
Adrenaline junkies will find plenty to get their blood pumping in the Cheddar Gorge Caves, as we’ve mentioned, but one of the most epic activities is the Black Cat Freefall.
Taking place in a part of the cave behind the Black Cat shadow (known as the Black Cat Chamber), this is a thrilling ‘rocksport’ where you basically jump from 30 meters high into the cave.
Of course, you’re attached to a safety line which catches you after you jump, but it definitely requires a leap of faith to fling yourself off a ladder into the darkness of the cave!
Also known as extreme abseiling, this activity is quite popular, so make sure you book well in advance if you want to experience it.
Did we miss any of your favourite places to visit in Cheddar?
Let us know in the comments so we can add more recommendations to the list!