More than just cheese in Cheddar!

As we alluded to last week, we went to Cheddar at the weekend to celebrate my birthday and found five wonderfully Somersetty treats to share with you.

Cheddar is set in the Mendip area of the county.  It is home to attractions like Gough’s Cave and Jacob’s Ladder, but we went a bit more low key for our day out.

The Gorge Walk.

Online or printed maps are available from the National Trust for The Gorge Walk. The National Trust own the land in the Gorge, but access to the walk is free.  There are a number of other walks that cross The Gorge Walk, so you might find you stumble across parts of it.  From The National Trust’s little shop in Cheddar you can pick up a printed map (donations welcome).

The Gorge Walk is not for the faint hearted!  Although it is only three miles, there is some pretty steep climbing and descents that will mean you earn your cream tea when you finish. Your efforts will also be rewarded with some stunning views across the Mendips, towards the Somerset coastline, and into the Gorge. We would not recommend this walk after lots of rain as it could get very slippy.

The Cider.

There is plenty of cider being made in and around Cheddar. For a selection of them check out The Cider Barn just down the A371. We picked up a bottle of Legbender Dry, from Rich’s Cider, based in nearby Highbridge.  They have a shop in Cheddar where you can buy all things cider.  For more information on Rich’s Cider, follow this Link, 

The Cheese.

Cheddar is, of course, synonymous with cheese.  And where else could be more perfect for a cheese picnic than Cheddar?  Half way through the walk described above, the scenery opens up and gives you the plenty of lush grass with stunning views to munch on your cheese sandwiches. We recommend stopping in the Original Cheddar Cheese Company farm shop on the high street. Not only does it sell some fabulous cheese but it has all the accessories you can imagine (including little cheese cool bags, to keep everything in tact on your walk).

Cream Teams.

There are plenty of cafes and gift shops nestled along the side of the main road. All of them are independent, without a Starbucks or Costa in sight. We enjoyed cream teas and toasted tea cakes from Simply Gorgeous, who were very generous with the cream and even warmed our scones.

Top of the Gorge Festival

One of the things that caught our eyes was Top of the Gorge Festival, 14 to 16 June 2019, organised by the National Trust.  It is billed as a carnival of outdoor adventure. There will be a pop up camp site, and activities including trail running, mountain biking, climbing, caving, walking, archery, food foraging, campfire cooking and star gazing. We think this is a great celebration of Somerset and its beautiful countryside.

We loved it in Cheddar so much that we will be heading there again soon. Top visiting tip: get there early for good parking!

A few of our favourite Somerset things

This weekend is my birthday and to celebrate I am going for a walk with my family in the Mendips. We plan to take some pictures and report back on our findings on all things Cheddar next week.

For now, we thought we would share five reasons that we love Somerset (never too late for a Valentines card to your county!) It is pretty bleak every time you turn on the news at the moment, so here is a blog respite with some things to be grateful for.

The Landscape

We are spoilt for choice with our recognised Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty including the Quantocks, Mendip and Blackdown Hills. Not to mention the National and Country parks such as Exmoor, Ham Hill and Ninesprings.  Somerset boasts its fair share of lowlands as well thanks to the Somerset Levels & Moors, which contains 32 Sites of Special Scientific Interest.  We are also blessed with historic cities, towns and villages dotted around the county meaning there is always something and somewhere new to explore.

The Heritage

Somerset’s heritage is quite astonishing, and we never stop learning about what makes our county tick, through the unique activities or places that remind us why where we live is so important.  Carnival was invented in Bridgwater!  The Museum of Somerset (Taunton) and the Rural Life Museum (Glastonbury) expertly capture our county’s social, environmental and political past.  Halsway Manor hosts a rich tapestry of Cecil Sharp’s collection.  The West Somerset Railway and Yeovil Railway Centre evoke the power of steam from times gone by.  Our orchards contain totally unique apples that can only be found in that orchard.  Once a year, we stand in the middle of our local orchards, in the dark, singing at bits of toast hanging from trees.  The list is endless.

The Smarts

We have some pretty impressive brain power here, despite the reputation for being dumb yokles. Some of the smartest technology comes from companies based in Somerset. Our Aerospace industry is a core part of the South West sector which has around 800 companies and supports 98,000 jobs.

The Arts

Somerset has one of the finest collections of village halls for rural touring of theatre and music you can find.  Our big theatres, including: The Brewhouse (Taunton), The Octagon (Yeovil), Theatre Royal Bath present a rich diversity of live performance, meeting everyone’s interests.  Somerset hosts the biggest live performance festival in Europe, on a farm (Glastonbury Festival) and smaller ones such as Fanny Hatstand, or PigPen are popping up.  Every year, local venues big & small, become galleries for some of Somerset’s most inspiring visual artists.  And Somerset is home to some of the region’s most dynamic storytellers, whose knowledge of local myth & folk stories is second to none.

The Produce

If you have ever visited one of Somerset’s farmers markets you will get a taste of the produce that is made on our doorstep, and it doesn’t disappoint.  There are over 100 producers who attend the markets, where you can find items from specialist breads to meat, fish, dairy, vegetables and fruit. That aside, Somerset is known for its cheese and cider, and it doesn’t get much better than that. So get some cheddar and a pint of scrumpy and raise a toast to Somerset, why we love our county!