Wild Van Camping at Cheddar Gorge, Somerset.

Cheddar Gorge, Somerset. Towering natural landscape of granite cliffs, wildlife and adventure. On this three mile long stretch of gorge there are a handful of gravel lay-bys that make a great place for a pit stop. It’s an ideal place to scramble up some of the lower lying rocks for children who have a constant need to express their inner mountain goat. You may even spot some of the wild and ancient soay sheep or the feral goats that roam the rocks looking for scrub to eat. Popular spot for climbers with actual ropes and helmets too! There are nearly always a couple of vans parked somewhere up the gorge most nights through the summer so you will be in good company. Be aware that it is a popular spot for motorbike and car meets so you have to pick your evening, weekends can be noisy at times. However during the week or on a drizzly day it is mainly just you and the wild life. No phone signal makes this a welcome break from technology, no hassle cooking outdoors, just glance upwards before choosing your parking place as there are occasional falling rocks in places where there are no nets. (If it does get noisy there is a secluded spot at Stock Hill Woods, Forestry Commission Site further up the gorge road along the B3135 towards Priddy, turn right at the cross roads next to the wood and you will find the entrance. Car park sign says it closes at 9:00pm but we have never had any problems. Very quiet and great place for children to collect fir cones, leaves & sticks for nature collections. There are also large branches for building dens against trees during the day and even a few wild raspberries to be foraged) Black Rock Nature Reserve near the top of the gorge is well worth a visit for an impromptu picnic whilst you amble along the track towards the old lime kiln and lead quarry works at velvet bottom. Long wood is a loop of ancient woodland once belonging to the medieval monks at Witham priory, perfect for spotting bluebells. The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company has a shop at the bottom of the gorge where you can have a wander round and look and sample some of the traditional handmade cheese on offer. It is a small charge of Β£2.00 per adult (two children per adult can go free) if you want to have a peek at the visitor centre and learn all about how the cheese is made. Parking can be tricky during the main holiday season, so might be worth parking for free further up in the gorge (in a non-marked bay) and walking down or park at the cliffs car park next to the riverside pub if you are happy to do pay and display, as they have a few spaces especially for longer vehicles. If you need any clothes washing there is the Cheddar Launderette, in the main hub of the village on Union Street, BS27 3NA. They do not have machines available public use, only service washes available.

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