Cheddar Gorge

A superb expedition through historic Axbridge to one of England’s most spectacular landforms.

Technical sheet
No. 18117811
A Winscombe and Sandford walk posted on 30/12/21 by Walks from the Door. Update : 30/12/21
Calculated time Calculated time: 7h00[?]
Distance Distance : 20.83km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 359m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 359m
Highest point Highest point : 262m
Lowest point Lowest point : 11m
Difficult Difficulty : Difficult
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Location Location : Winscombe and Sandford
Starting point Starting point : N 51.314603° / W 2.832851°
Download : -


(D/A) 1 From the front door of the Woodborough Inn, cross the road and walk down Woodborough Road between the Co-op on the left and Farrons Estate Agents on the right.
Just before the bridge, turn right past the public toilets onto the Strawberry Trail; turn left. Cross the bridge and follow the trail for a quarter of a mile.

(1) Pass under a road bridge (The Lynch). Continue along the Trail, passing the Recreation Ground on your left. Keep along the Strawberry Line as far as the Shute Shelve Tunnel. Beyond the tunnel, continue along the Strawberry Line until you reach the A38.

(2) Cross and rejoin the rail trail on the opposite site of the road. Follow it for a quarter of a mile, with views over the Levels, until you meet another road. Cross into the car park opposite and walk to the end where, beyond some boulders, a narrow path drops into the trees on your right descending past a shallow rock shelter to the road.

(3) Turn left and walk down to a junction. Turn left to a crossing point at the end of a railing, cross over both roads to a bus stop, then turn left. Follow West Street past Compton House and then between pastel-painted cottages and past Axbridge Methodist Church to the dramatic King John’s Hunting Lodge and the Square in the center of Axbridge.
Cross the square and continue past the Town Hall along St Mary’s Street (which becomes Cheddar Road).

(4) After a little over half a mile, the road meets the A371 Axbridge bypass; turn right at a Strawberry Line sign and continue as before along the old railway, with glimpses of Cheddar Reservoir away to your right. After a half-mile, ignore a crossing path (unless you wish to view the reservoir, in which case the path on the right provides the shortest approach).

(5) After a further third of a mile on the Strawberry Trail, after some sports pitches, you pass under a road bridge on the outskirts of Cheddar. The path beyond runs between fences and round some right-angled bends before passing a builder’s merchant and emerging into an industrial estate.

(6) Walk out to the public road and turn left until you reach the main A371 road by a war memorial. Turn right, passing Hanham Manor on the right. Just before a telephone kiosk and public toilet, turn right along a tarmac path signposted “Football Club”. This leads alongside the Kings of Wessex Academy, built on the site of an Anglo-Saxon palace and containing the substantial ruins of a medieval chapel.

(7) After following the path left and right, turn left into a road (Parsons Pen) and walk along it to the parish church. Turn left along Church Street to the market cross, where you turn right into Union Street. Keep left at the junction with Redcliffe Street and continue past the Methodist Church on your left.
At a mini-roundabout, continue straight on past the Riverside Inn, signposted “Gorge & caves”.

(8) Having crossed the river, turn right and follow The Lippiatt uphill. (The walk ahead gives great views of Cheddar Gorge from above, but if you wish to explore the lower reaches of the gorge and visit the various attractions, carry straight on.)
After about 100 yards, turn left through a stone slab-stile and up steps between two houses onto a narrow path that bends right and left to emerge in a driveway. Turn right and immediately left, then turn off left onto a footpath by a red-arrowed “Gorge Walk” waymark.

(9) The path winds uphill to the viewing tower; turn right, passing the top of the Jacob’s Ladder steps and through a tall wooden kissing gate. The path continues to climb fairly gradually, with glimpses into the gorge on the left in the vicinity of Pulpit Rock (though the views improve as you gain elevation and the trees thin out).
You are likely to encounter one of Cheddar’s resident feral goats in this area. After the high point, the path continues to another tall kissing gate and beyond alternates between wooded and brackeny areas to a further gate. From here on it descends through trees (muddy and slippery at times) towards the road.

(10) At a path junction, keep right until you reach the road by a lay-by. Cross into Black Rock Nature Reserve. After a couple of hundred yards, ignore the Gorge Walk signposted to the left and continue up the valley, past a lime kiln and quarry.

(11) When the valley divides, keep left (ignoring the Velvet Bottom path on the right). A gate leads into Long Wood Nature Reserve; immediately beyond the reserve sign, take the path on the left, which climbs out of the valley. At the top of the incline, go through a gate ahead of you and follow the left-hand side of the field beyond.
At the end of this long field, go through two gates either side of a track and continue in the same vein beyond to another gate.
When the wall on your left finally bends left, carry on in a straight line towards the left-hand of two farms visible in the distance. Beyond a field gate, continue in the same direction, but now with a wall on your right. You meet the end of a track that leads past the buildings of Ashridge Farm to a road.

(12) Turn right and follow the road for 400 yards to a road junction, with three prominent barrows in the field on the right. Turn left towards Shipham. At Trot’s Corner after half a mile, the road descends into Long Bottom. At the bottom of the hill, ignore the track ahead and bear left along the road.
After a further mile down the valley you meet the larger road between Shipham and Cheddar below a café and farm shop.

(13) Cross into Winterhead Hill and follow the rough-surfaced road gently uphill. After a wood on the right the track descends past a turning to Winterhead Hill Farm, visible on a hill to the right. Shortly afterwards, turn right off the track through a hand-gate and follow power lines across a field to the head of a small valley.

(14) The path leads left of a small stream to a gate. Continue down the valley with intermittent woodland to either side and through a further couple of gates, the second below a small wood to the right. Follow the hedge on your left to a further gate, then a fence on the right. Go through a hand-gate on your left and bear right through another and cross a grassy area to the road in Sidcot.

(15) Turn right and walk through the village, keeping right at the junction with Fountain Lane. Walk between various school buildings out to the A38. Cross and turn left along the pavement beside the main road, then turn right into Hillyfields.
Follow this rough road to its end, where a hand-gate leads into a field. Pass a bench and follow the left-hand side of the field to a kissing gate in the far left-hand corner. Follow a path past a primary school entrance and carry straight on to emerge at the end of Hillyfields Way. Follow this residential road back to the Woodborough Inn. (D/A)

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. 41m - Woodborough Inn
1 : km 0.53 - alt. 44m - Shute Shelve Tunnel
2 : km 2.5 - alt. 44m - Views over the Levels
3 : km 3.32 - alt. 31m - Axbridge Methodist Church
4 : km 4.93 - alt. 33m - A371 Axbridge bypass
5 : km 6.49 - alt. 19m - Sports pitches
6 : km 7.28 - alt. 14m - War memorial - Kings of Wessex Academy
7 : km 7.75 - alt. 12m - Methodist Church
8 : km 8.55 - alt. 19m - Views of Cheddar Gorge
9 : km 8.86 - alt. 60m - The Jacob’s Ladder steps
10 : km 11.1 - alt. 175m - Black Rock Nature Reserve
11 : km 11.95 - alt. 194m - Long Wood Nature Reserve
12 : km 14.43 - alt. 255m - Ashridge Farm
13 : km 17.3 - alt. 155m - Winterhead Hill Farm
14 : km 18.67 - alt. 131m - Intermittent woodland
15 : km 19.5 - alt. 79m - Hillyfields
D/A : km 20.83 - alt. 41m - Woodborough Inn

Useful Information

The paths in the vicinity of Cheddar Gorge are stony and there are unprotected cliff edges. Paths elsewhere may be muddy. Some road walking in the latter stages. Sheep, goats and cattle may be expected.

Pdf link :

The Woodborough Inn
2 Sandford Rd, Winscombe,
Somerset BS25 1HD
Tel 01934 844167

Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

Shute Shelve Tunnel is brick-lined at its northern end (pictured) where it passes through soft marl, but the bare walls of hard limestone at the southern end are lined with flowstone.

Sidcot School (right) is one of the few independent Quaker schools in the country, and has its own Friends’ Meeting House.

The village of Compton Bishop is dominated by the tower of St Andrew's Church, a Grade I listed building. The churchyards contains a medieval cross and inside the building is a finely carved stone pulpit described by one antiquarian as “one of the best in Somerset”.

The spectacular 360° view from Crook Peak is dominated by the M5 heading towards the obvious eminence of Brent Knoll, with the Parrett Estuary backed by the Quantocks and Exmoor beyond. To the west the island of Steepholm lurks beyond the ridge of Brean Down; to the north are Avonmouth and the outskirts of Bristol; looking east over Cheddar Reservoir is a glimpse of the Gorge; and to the south are the Somerset Levels, with Glastonbury Tor prominent in the south-east.

Dolebury Warren is a well-preserved Iron Age hillfort with steep slopes and wide views on all sides. It was used as a rabbit warren during the Middle Ages, hence the name, and the ruins of the warrener’s house are still visible.

Cheddar Gorge was formed by meltwater unable to enter the underlying caves during periods when they were blocked by permafrost. Britain's oldest complete human skeleton, Cheddar Man, dating from around 7000BC, was found in Gough’s Cave.

Axbridge, though nowadays smaller than neighbouring Cheddar, is historically the more important settlement and was granted a Royal Charter in 1202 by King John.

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