Attractions and parking
Cheddar is often used as an overnight stop by people on their way to a holiday in Cornwall and Devon, but the whole Somerset area is a great holiday destination in its own right and too often overlooked when zipping through on the M5. For most people in the UK, driving all the way down to Devon and Cornwall resorts takes two or three hours longer each way than visiting Cheddar.
See the links along the top and in the margin for accommodation and camping locations.
In Cheddar itself:
The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company 01934 742810.
Visit the dairy to see how Cheddar Cheese is made the traditional way, plus try and buy different varieties from the shop. The Cheese Company has been featured in recent TV programmes “Jedward’s Big Adventure” and “Rory Bremner’s Great British Views”.
Plus many other smaller attractions such as:
- Cheddar Crazy Golf – a challenging 18 hole course
- See sweets being made at the Cheddar Sweet Kitchen
- The Gorge Bear Company - a huge selection of teddy bears and soft toys
- A wide variety of gift shops, coffee shops, tea rooms and streets of country cottages extending from the lower gorge down to the historic Market Cross.
- South West Karting at Winchester Farm, kart/mini-moto racing and also the venue for the enormous car boot sale every Sunday from 9am.
On the north side of the village:
Cheddar Gorge and Caves 01934 742343.
Gough’s Cave, Cox’s Cave, the Crystal Quest, Jacob’s Ladder, the Clifftop Walk, “Cheddar Man and the Cannibals” exhibition and the open-top bus ride through the gorge. Everything on the right (south side) as you walk up the Gorge is part of the Longleat Estate, as are the Gorge car parks, the derelict Cox’s Mill, the “Cannibals” exhibition building, the listed Mark Hole Cottage and the shops around the crazy golf in Queens Row. The land in the gorge on the north side is National Trust.
Cheddar Village web site wishes to emphasise that visiting Cheddar Gorge is free of charge, it’s just a regular public road, but through a spectacular natural feature. There is no toll or ticket required to use the road. The high top of the Gorge is also accessible by public or permissive footpaths on both sides. If you use the gravel parking in the Upper Gorge (east of The Pinnacles) then parking is also free. You only need to pay if you want to park in the “marked out” Lower Gorge parking spaces or in car parks in the village, and you also have to pay on entry to visit the Caves and associated tourist attractions (your local supermarket and other voucher providers may offer discounts for the caves). Entry to the Cheese Company shop is also free, but there is a small charge to watch the cheese-making process.
Did you know that Cheddar has more shops and cafes other than the ones in the lower Gorge? Leaving the car park by the Riverside Inn, turn LEFT (south) and walk for about five minutes, follow the main road round a bend to the right and you will see the Market Cross ahead, plus many other businesses, supermarket, pharmacy, banks and post office.
|PARKING in or near Gorge/Caves
Parking in Cheddar is operated either by Sedgemoor District council or by Cheddar Caves and Gorge (Longleat). The main car parks are shown on the map. The Longleat-owned ones in the lower Gorge are intended for Caves visitors and can be expensive for a short stay but the upper Gorge is not warden-controlled. Most main streets in the village are yellow-lined (double yellow in many cases), enforced by Somerset County Council wardens, with fines of £50 or more for illegal parking on yellow lines or in loading bays. Parking for pre-booked coaches is near the entrance to the caves.
View Cheddar – car parking in a larger map
|PARKING in the village
There is a cheaper short-stay council car park by Budgens (Church Street) and if you don’t mind a walk, some side streets away from the main centres are free of yellow lines (zoom to Streetview from the “larger map” link on the lower image). Some local properties also let out private parking spaces on the Parkatmyhouse site for advance booking, so worth checking on there. Cheddar has fewer on-street parking restrictions in the winter season 1 Oct – 19 Mar. If you see parking issues that need the attention of a warden, you can report them to Parking@somerset.gov.uk.
View Cheddar – car parking in a larger map
Parking charges: Click here for council-owned parking charges (PDF) – mobile phone payment options are available. In-season Longleat-owned parking spaces are currently one price £5 all day. Parking charges are a regular bugbear of both visitors and residents and if you would like to make your views known, please contact the Caves & Gorge or Sedgemoor DC directly.
If you are visiting Cheddar for up to 4 hours to go shopping or walking and not intending to go to the caves, your best bet may be to use the Church Street car park. Most shops in the village will refund some of your parking fee from that car park if you shop with them. There are places to eat or get a coffee, in the village centre. If you just want to see the Gorge and not the showcaves, consider parking at Black Rock.
To the west:
The historic town of Axbridge lies a couple of miles to the west, dating back to the 1200s. The medieval market square, the timbered King John’s Hunting Lodge (pictured), and its narrow streets are worthy of a visit. Between Cheddar and Axbridge lies the two-mile-circumferenced Cheddar Reservoir which is a popular destination for watersports fans, birdwatchers, walkers and cyclists. Cyclists can also begin the Strawberry Line cycle ride in Cheddar heading north west towards the main line at Yatton.
You can also use Cheddar as a base for touring the local area. Here are six ideas for great days out, offering something for everyone for a week’s holiday – and this excludes a day spent in Cheddar!
Other places of interest nearby include: