Pictures of Cheddar
Each year, thousands of visitors are drawn to Chedder and the wild beauty of the magnificent hills through which this famous gorge is cut. Often called 'Englands Grand Canyon' Chedder Gorge was carved out by a river that now runs underground. On each side of the road that leads down to the village, cliffs rise majestically to the great heights of the Mendips Hills that are said to have been home to man and beast for thousands of years. This fact is evidenced by several long barrows that date to the New Stone Age of around 3,000 BC. There is evidence too, of a prosperous Bronze Age period and of Roman occupation. This is an area with a long history which has travelled through turbulent times and has seen various industries come and go. At one time mining featured heavily here, but always, over many centuries, and long before the vast underground caverns were opened for man to explore, farming has been at the heart of the communities that dwell within the Mendips.
It is the tourist attraction of the vast underground caverns that causes thousands of visitors to flock to Chedder. They queue in their hundreds to see the spectacular underground chambers which feature crystalline formations that have been created by water action. The caves are beautifully lit and present the visitor with a magical spectacle which is well worth seeing.
Just as cavers continue to explore the cavernous underground of these hollow, limestone hills, many climbers come here to scale the rock faces of the great cliffs that fill the ancient gorge. Some come quite unprepaired for the weather changes, for in the high upland regions, change comes swiftly, sunlight gives way to swirling mist and it is then that one is easily trapped. Fortunately, Chedder has an experienced rescue team than annually, both saves and helps many inexperienced climbers. One can quite understand the desire to climb these beautiful hills, the scenery all around is quite magical and from the high ridges there are wonderful vistas of the Bristol Channel and Brean Down and, on clear days, the hills of Wales come into view.
This is hallowed ground for the naturalist, the Mendip Hills reveal a rich bounty of flora and fauna. The fragile looking but sturdy Chedder Pink, once gathered in bunches by the tourists of a hundred years or so ago, is now a rare flower and grows only in Chedder Gorge, blooming in the high summer months. In late summer and autumn, many Butterflies can be spotted, they feed on the wild hedgegrow flowers such as red campion and marjoram. Many herbs and berries grow in the wooded areas. Blackberries grow in great profusion, and in cool, spacious openings between the trees you can find rosebay willowherb and paris. The woodland regions are rich with a multiple of trees, there are huge old oaks, towering maples, gracious limes and douglas firs. In spring delicate bluebells and wood anemones grow in abundance forming a splendid carpet in the undergrowth beneath the trees.
In autumn, the delicate colours of spring and summer give way to deeper hues when the leaves of trees and bushes change from green to brilliant red, copper and gold. There is a rare peace to be found in these wooded areas where often all that can be heard is the sound of birdsong from the birds who inhabit these woods.
High on the Hills, narrow lanes wend through ancient hamlets and delightful little villages. The surrounding land is a criss cross of fields hemmed in by leafy hedges and drystone walling. Old farmhouses, strongly built to withstand the icy blast of the winterwinds are surrounded by lush meadows, grazed by cattle and sheep. Here you are a world away from the tourist Chedder below, it is a region of sheer enchantment where every turn offers a fresh delight.
In the village of Chedder you will find many gift shops; Somerset cider is plentiful as is the famous cheese for which this area is renowned. There are several inns and public houses and a couple of traditional fish and chip shops. There is much to do, see and admire in this area but your abiding memory will be the sheer grandeur of the scenery where the highest point echoes the words of the song - On a clear day - for the view is just that - as though you could see forever more!
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