Stage 2: Shipham to Wookey Hole — the Mendip Way
Kit P planned a hike.
February 12, 2021
This stage takes in some of the most dramatic scenery in the Mendip Hills and contains plenty of attractions. Several caves, two gorges and abundant viewpoints combine to make this a seriously enjoyable expedition.
Start at Shipham and head south east through pretty woodland to a quiet lane. Meander across fields before descending steeply to Black Rock. Pass briefly over the gorge road westerly and hike through the trees before making a right-angle turn and crossing the same road to the north. The trail climbs steeply on rough stone steps out of Cheddar gorge and leads you along the top of the cliffs.
Once you’ve walked the length of the gorge, descend into the heart of this bustling village. Cheddar is a truly magnificent geological sight as well as a good place to get a coffee and a cake (or a piece of locally made cheddar cheese). Walking up the road through the gorge a little way is just as majestic if you ignore the traffic. If you like, explore the show caves, a paid-for yet extraordinary attraction. It was here that the oldest skeleton in the country was found, thought to be 9,000 years old.
Hike out of Cheddar to the east; a steep climb but the views from the top are outstanding. The trail doesn’t level out for a while, instead meandering about the contours lines of this edge of the Mendips. Above Draycott, the trail heads to flatter land albeit still high, sauntering off to the village of Priddy.
The second gorge is Ebbor, just above Wookey Hole. The Mendip Way uses a lovely path above the gorge itself but there’s also a path through the gorge’s stunning depths which is well worth choosing instead. Hike out of Ebbor through woodland to Wookey Hole.
This wonderfully named attraction is a vast and dramatic cave system. It’s a paid-for attraction but is certainly a magnificent thing to behold, colourfully lit inside with stalactites hanging from the ceiling. This little settlement has a couple of accommodation choices including campsites but if you need more, head on into neighbouring Wells. Equally, if you’re finishing your hike in Wells to complete the West Mendip Way, it’s just 2 miles (3.2 km) into the city.
February 16, 2021