Carved out by glacial meltwater during the last ice age, these limestone cliffs 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. Admission covers parking in the gorge and entry to the caves. Cheddar Gorge is 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, and carbon dating has suggested Gough's Cave was inhabited several thousand years earlier. Rumours of prehistoric cannibalism have been boosted by recent discoveries of polished human skulls that are thought 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 (covered in the admission price), which leads to a spectacular viewpoint over the gorge and a 3-mile clifftop trail. Or sign up for a caving trip and venture deeper underground. There's a 15% discount for online booking.