Cheddar Gorge information
Carved out by glacial meltwater during the last Ice Age, the limestone cliffs of Cheddar Gorge form England's deepest natural canyon, in places towering 138m above the twisting B3135. Beneath the cliffs, the gorge is riddled with miles of subterranean caves. Cox's Cave and Gough's Cave are the easiest to reach, decorated with impressive displays of stalactites and stalagmites, but you'll need to sign up for a caving trip if you want to venture deeper underground. The gorge begins about 20 miles northwest of Wells on the A371.
The Cheddar caves have been inhabited since the last Ice Age; a 9000-year-old skeleton (imaginatively named Cheddar Man) was discovered here in 1903, although carbon dating has suggested Gough's Cave was inhabited several thousand years earlier. Rumours of prehistoric cannibalism also seem to have been confirmed by recent discoveries of polished human skulls that are believed to have been used as drinking vessels.
Cheddar is very popular, so expect traffic during summer and school holidays. You can escape the crowds by climbing the 274-step staircase known as Jacob's Ladder , which leads to a spectacular viewpoint over the gorge and a 3-mile clifftop trail. There's a 15% discount for online booking.