On Friday we headed over to Cheddar to visit Cheddar Gorge. I’ve never been before but it has been somewhere on the list of places I wanted to visit. As usual, it wasn’t just about sightseeing – there was some running mixed in too.
As you get closer to the gorge, the scenery changes from fields and windy roads to breathtaking views. The sheer scale of the cliff tops are incredible as you wind your way down to the main entrance. If you’re lucky you may even spot a few goats in the hills!
We purchased the standard ticket, but this covers off the caves, Cheddar Man museum, the Crystal Quest, the Lookout Tower, Gorge walk and open-top bus tour. We took advantage of most of it, apart from the bus. If you are planning a visit make sure you book online the day before – it’s a bit cheaper and you can’t get the same , lower rate, on the day.
We decided to stay the night in Bristol. It isn’t too far away and offers a bit more choice for evening activities. We opted for dinner at the Turtle Bay by the Waterfront and sampled their rum platter. As always, this place never disappoints. Friendly, helpful staff and delicious food.
A few too many rums later and we decided it was best to retire, especially as we were planning to go back to Cheddar Gorge and run up and down the hills!
After a decent breakfast we headed back over to Cheddar to start the run. We parked up on Longbottom Lane, just near to a nature reserve. This was an easy access to the West Mendip Way where we started the run.
It was much warmer than we had expected, the forecast initial stated cloud and rain but we had 25 degree heat. Initially, the run takes you along a farm before you get to a very slippery down hill section that heads to Black Rock.
This is a really lovely section of the path, tough terrain (as it was a bit damp underfoot) but beautiful to look at.
Shortly after this part, you cross over the road and head up a short, sharp hill – this was a hard part of the course as it was mostly rock, tree stumps and slippery mud. The path was fairly busy with tourists so it was a case of watching your footing, hanging tree branches and avoiding people!
As soon as you make it up the hill, you are in for a treat – the view is amazing. It makes the hard work worth it.
At this point it was really warm, the cloud had disappeared and the sun was beating down. I was drinking lots of water but struggling with a mixture of the temperature and really having to concentrate on my footing.
The next stretch is downhill into Cheddar. This takes you past the Lookout Tower and down the 274 steps! We stopped off for some ice lollies and a water top up before heading back UP the hill.
By the time we made it back to the top (which was incredibly hard work) I felt dead. Way too hot AND I managed to twist my ankle whilst on the spot (doh!). I had to do a fair amount of walking here to try and cool down. Which was a shame, as this was the flat bit!
We then looped back to the Black Rock part of course, back up the hill and over the farm field to the car. It was about 7.5 – 8 miles in total with a bit of walking, sight seeing and lolly eating in between.
Overall, it was a tough one but good fun. The terrain was really hard work – lots of concentration was needed to make sure you didn’t step on a slippery stone or head butt a tree branch!
It would be good to go back out of the holiday season so there is less people traffic to watch out for. If you’ve got a hilly race coming it, this is the place to practice!