(Last updated on: 05/08/2020)
During the COVID pandemic we found ourselves unexpectedly living in Cheddar in Somerset. My children and I spent several weeks here and I got to know the town really well. There are lots of fun things to do in Cheddar and you can easily spend a few days here.
Here is my guide on the best things to do in Cheddar, along with some handy practical tips to help you plan your trip.
- Things to do in Cheddar
- Explore Gough’s cave
- Admire the views of Somerset on a clifftop walk
- Climb Jacob’s Ladder
- Hike through the Mendip Hills
- Rock climbing at Cheddar Gorge
- Spot the unique Somerset wild sheep
- Try a unique flavour of ice cream
- Go souvenir shopping
- Enjoy afternoon tea
- Taste some real Cheddar cheese
- Go strawberry shopping
- Go fishing at Cheddar Reservoir
- Visit St Andrews Church
- Where to stay in Cheddar, Somerset
- Tips for visiting Cheddar, Somerset
- The best time to visit Cheddar, Somerset
- To conclude: Things to do in Cheddar, Somerset
Things to do in Cheddar
I first heard of Cheddar about ten years ago when my college organised a residential visit to the area for the travel and tourism students as part of their rural tourism research. What a wonderful place to take the students, I thought… beautiful countryside, lots of traditional British culture, adventure sports tourism and caves!
There are so many things to do in Cheddar for all ages and types of people. Yes, it was a great place for a student visit, but it’s also great for families, adventure-seekers, hikers and more. In fact, you would be hard-pushed not to like Cheddar!
Cheddar is great for a day visit, but there are so many things to do in Cheddar that you would be missing out if you didn’t stay longer…. here is my summary of the best things to do in Cheddar.
Explore Gough’s cave
Gough’s cave is one of the highlights of Cheddar.
The cave is spectacular and there is a fascinating audio tour to teach you all about the different areas of the cave. The audio tour takes around 45 minutes to complete.
Gough’s Cave was closed due to the COVID lockdown when we visited in 2020 so unfortunately I wasn’t able to take the girls, and they would have loved it! But I did visit on a previous trip to Cheddar, so I can assure you that the caves are a must for any trip to this part of Somerset.
Gough’s Cave is located near the centre of Cheddar. There are car parks nearby. You can buy tickets on the door or in advance on their website.
Admire the views of Somerset on a clifftop walk
During lockdown we had lots of opportunities to walk (I mean, what else was there to do, right?!). Cheddar provided the perfect base for some scenic walks, we were so lucky to be in such a beautiful place during this difficult time!
There are many spectacular walks in the area, but one of my favourites was the clifftop gorge walk, which is managed by the National Trust.
If you drive up through the gorge you will see a small parking area either side of the road. Here there are two entrances, one to either side of the gorge. The climb is a little bit steep and the ground is uneven, so wear suitable footwear.
You can also reach the clifftop walk by climbing up Jacob’s Ladder. I’ll talk more about that shortly.
The views from the top are amazing! You can see for many miles. You can even see all the way to the coastal area of Western Super Mare.
We walked up here several times and took a picnic with us. It can be a little bit chilly with the wind, so pack a jumper. There are no barriers so be sure to hold your children’s hands when near the cliff edge.
Climb Jacob’s Ladder
Jacob’s Ladder is a centrepiece in the town of Cheddar and this provides passageway to the top of the gorge. Here you can admire those beautiful clifftop views that Cheddar is so famous for!
Climbing Jacob’s Ladder is no easy feat, though. At 900ft above sea level and with 274 steps to climb, you will feel like you have done your daily exercise by the time that you reach the top. But is really is worth it for those views!
Hike through the Mendip Hills
Cheddar is in the Mendip Hills, which is an area of outstanding natural beauty in the UK.
Whether you’re in search of a walk with your dog, a gentle stroll, or a vigorous hike, the Mendip Hills is a great place to go.
The Mendip Hills are lined with limestone. The area features the lakes of the Chew Valley. The landscape is fantastic! It is filled with steep slopes and undulating plateau. There are several gorges and rocky outcrops. To make your walk more interesting you also might come across one of the hundreds of ancient monuments scattered through the area. The wildlife is also very impressive.
It is important to note that these walks are not pram or wheelchair friendly and the area does not offer the best options for accessible tourism. Having said that, the area is beautifully unspoilt, and it would be a shame to start putting in paved walkways…
Because I was alone with my one and three year old daughters we were not able to walk further than I could carry them. But if you’re into hiking, there are some brilliant trails that you can take.
Rock climbing at Cheddar Gorge
If adventure tourism is your thing then Cheddar is a great place to come!
Cheddar is home to some of the best rock climbing in the UK. The limestone cliff makes for some great climbing areas, and the scenery is fantastic too!
Be aware though, that climbing at the gorge is restricted during certain times of the year (namely peak seasons) due to the close proximity of the cliffs to the tourist areas and the risk of rock falls.
The UK Climbing website provides further details on these restrictions.
Spot the unique Somerset wild sheep
This is something that you won’t see on many ‘things to do in Cheddar’ lists!
During our walks through the countryside areas surrounding Cheddar we spotted these interesting-looking animals. We were not sure if they were deer, goats or sheep at the time!
After a bit of research we determined that they were indeed soay sheep.
The soay sheep are native to the Scottish archipelago of St Kilda, a group of islands located in the Atlantic. These sheep are a primitive ancestor of the present day sheep. Some of these sheep were relocated many years ago to Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel and since then some have managed to make their way to Cheddar.
These unique sheep roam the local area in herds and it is pretty special to come across them. It makes for a great animal hunt for children too!
Try a unique flavour of ice cream
One of our favourite things to do in Cheddar was trying the delicious flavours of home made ice cream.
Each day Isla would ask to go to the ice cream shop. There are several of these shops in the town centre and one advertises more than 100 different flavours office cream!
Go souvenir shopping
Cheddar is also home to several quaint little souvenir shops.
The area is authentically British and is a fantastic example of cultural tourism in Britain.
Somerset is famous for its cider and Cheddar is, of course, famous for its cheese! There are lots of souvenir shops in the town where you can buy cider, cheddar and other things such as rock, teddy bears, key rings etc.
Going shopping in Cheddar can be an enjoyable experience, especially when the shops are handing out free tasters! Yum!
Enjoy afternoon tea
Quintessentially British, afternoon tea can be a great rainy day activity when visiting Cheddar.
The Lionrock has some great afternoon tea options as well as other menu choices. Their roast dinner is great too!
Fancy swapping tea for Prosecco? No problem!
Taste some real Cheddar cheese
You can’t come to Cheddar without tasting some real cheddar cheese!
The Original Cheddar Cheese Company is the oldest cheddar cheese shop in the world and is a must-see when visiting Cheddar.
The shop has a huge selection of cheese and offers free tasters. It also has accompaniments such as crackers and cider.
Go strawberry shopping
One of my favourite things to do in Cheddar is to visit the locally-owned strawberry stalls.
You will see stalls like this on the side of the road all over this part of Somerset. The area is famous because of the traditional strawberry growing and the famous strawberry line.
The stalls sell other fruits and vegetables besides strawberries, but some of these are imported and not locally produced.
Go fishing at Cheddar Reservoir
We first realised there was a huge reservoir in Cheddar when we saw it from the hilltops at the top of the gorge. Its an impressive size and can seen for miles around- it holds a whopping 135 million gallons of water!
The reservoir is the perfect place for a stroll with the pram. You can walk all the way around, although we never managed it as the girls would get tired quickly.
There are lots of ducks and swans here so it is a nice place to come with children.
Cheddar reservoir is also a popular place for water sports. Many people go sailing here and the strong wind provides the perfect conditions for hours of fun!
Visit St Andrews Church
St Andrews church is a beautiful church in the centre of the town of Cheddar. We went on a walk here with the girls one afternoon.
The church itself has fantastic architecture and many original features. There is alas a cemetery with some commonwealth graves.
I taught Isla a little bit about religion and churches on our visit, which made for a great homeschooling activity!
Visit nearby tourist areas
If you have exhausted all of the things to do in Cheddar you can also explore some of the local areas too. We loved visiting the ancient town of Axbridge, the beach at Burnham-on-Sea and the cathedral in Wells. The strawberry line is a big attraction nearby too.
Where to stay in Cheddar, Somerset
There are so many wonderful places to stay in Cheddar!
You can take a look at the accommodation options available on your travel dates using the map below, or keep scrolling to see my personal recommendations…
Strawberry Rose Cottage
We spent our few weeks staying in the beautiful Strawberry Rose Cottage. This was a traditional three bedroom cottage with a gorgeous open fire place and a little outside courtyard.
It was just a few minutes walk away from the town centre.
The owner of this cottage is a lovely lady and I will never forget the kindness that she showed me and my children during our time of need.
The cottage had everything we needed from kids cutlery and a high chair to matches to light the fire and a tumble dryer. I couldn’t have asked for any more, IT WAS JUST PERFECT!
Tor Farm Lodge
If you’re looking for a little luxury then this is a great place to come. Tor Farm Lodge has a swimming pool and a hot tub!
It’s a little bit outside of the town centre, but if you have a car then this is no problem at all. It is also conveniently located to visit other areas such as Weston Super Mare, Burnham-on-Sea and Glastonbury. Axbridge and the Strawberry Line are both worth a visit too.
The Bath Arms Hotel
If hotels are more your thing then the best place to stay in Cheddar is without a doubt the Bath Arms Hotel.
With a restaurant and a bar onsite, The Bath Arms Hotel offers adult-only accommodation. The rooms are spacious with a flat-screen TV, a work desk, and tea and coffee making facilities.
One of the best thing about this hotel is the breakfast! The Bath Arms Hotel offers an extensive breakfast menu including full cooked breakfast and Eggs Benedict. The restaurant also serves a daily menu with traditional pub favourites and a wide range of drinks are available from the bar. During the warmer months, guests can dine in the beer garden.
Tips for visiting Cheddar, Somerset
Having spent so much time in Cheddar, I managed to learn a few tricks of the trade that will help to make your trip more enjoyable/ easier.
Here are a few of my tips-
Parking can be a bit of a problem in Cheddar. The roads are narrow and some accommodation does not come with a parking space.
I recommend that you arrive early to secure parking or be prepared to walk from your parking space to the town centre. Some houses rent out private parking spaces. You can check that option at Just Park.
Eating and drinking
There are many places to eat in Cheddar.
Many people choose to eat fish and chips on the grass in the town centre. This is an authentic British option that is a great addition to a holiday in Cheddar.
There are also global cuisines such as Chinese, Indian, Thai and Italian. Since COVID-19, most places now do home delivery.
There is a small Tesco Express and a Sainsbury’s supermarket in town if you prefer to cook at home.
Dog walking one of the most popular things to do in Cheddar. The stunning Mendip Hills make for a great playground for dogs!
It is for this reason that many holiday makers choose to bring their dogs with them on their trip to Cheddar.
Fortunately, many accommodation providers are happy to welcome dogs and will provide dog bowls etc on your arrival.
Footwear and bags
If you choose to do some hiking during your visit to Cheddar then it is important that you have the right gear.
Even if you are just climbing up to enjoy the clifftop gorge walk or taking a short stroll, you will find that the ground is uneven and that there are lots of steep hills.
This is why it is important to have appropriate footwear. I recommend some sturdy hiking boots like these if are planning to do any substantial hiking. Otherwise, an ordinary pair of trainers will do just fine.
Likewise, you will want to have an appropriate bag. I don’t go anywhere without my Osprey day bag. It is super comfortable and doubles up really well as a nappy bag too!
Prams and baby carriers
Whilst the town centre is just fine for prams, the surrounding hillsides are not. If you want to do any walking outside of the town centre (which you absolutely should!), you need to have children who are either old enough to walk by themselves or who can be put in a carrier.
I absolutely LOVE my Tula carriers! I have the Tula Toddler and the Tula Free to Grow and they are soooo comfortable. Without these I wouldn’t have seen half as much of this beautiful countryside area!
The local community
The local community are very welcoming and friendly. However, they are not happy about overtourism, which occurs each year during the peak season. If somebody doesn’t seem overly happy to see you, don’t take it personally.
The best time to visit Cheddar, Somerset
Cheddar is a great place to visit at any time of the year!
Most places are kitted out for all weathers and will have heating and fires for the winter.
Personally, I prefer to visit when the weather is warmer and there isn’t too much rain. I do, however, always make sure I carry my small fold up rain mac in my handbag in case of sudden downpours, because it is England after all!
School holiday times can get really busy so I would avoid these times if you can. However, having worked in education for most of my life, I know that this isn’t always possible!
To conclude: Things to do in Cheddar, Somerset
All in all, I can conclude that Cheddar is a great place to visit for all types of tourists. There are so many things to do in Cheddar and this quintessentially British town is well worth a visit for any domestic or international tourist!