Greentraveller Guide to the Mendip Hills AONB
The Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a beautiful, varied landscape, a dramatic scene of open wild plateau and undulating hills interrupted by deep gorges, prehistoric hilltop settlements, serene lakes and dense woodland.
We're all familiar with the magnificent Cheddar Gorge and Wookey Hole Caves, yet beyond these big attractions, which draw hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, the area remains relatively unaffected by high tourist numbers, making it a haven for walkers, cyclists and lovers of the great outdoors.
Covering an area of 198 square kilometres, the Mendip Hills is a relatively small AONB but has lots to offer the adventure seeker, nature lover, culture vulture and foodie fanatic. From eco-minded B&Bs to farm shops offering fresh, local produce, to activity centres throughout the AONB, we have uncovered the greenest businesses in the region. Our Greentraveller Guide to the Mendip Hills AONB will allow you to discover the best of the region whilst minimising your impact on the landscape.
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Opt for B&B at a working watermill, self-cater in a gardener's cottage with views of the gorge, or camp under starry skies - whatever you're after, we've got it covered
Tuck into fresh, locally-caught trout at a lakeside café, enjoy top notch nosh from a River Cottage chef, or don wellies and head straight to the farm to select your cut of choice
Explore the spectacular limestone caves and gorges, or get off the beaten track and find some peace and quiet amongst some of Somerset's loveliest lakes, gardens and museums
The Mendip Hills AONB
- Nearest national cycle network
This project has been supported by the Mendip Hills AONB Sustainable Development Fund
A word from the Mendip Hills AONB
The Mendip Hills are one of England’s most attractive landscapes. The distinctive limestone ridge rises from the flat Somerset Levels and Chew Valley just south of Bristol. The windswept plateau is punctuated by spectacular dry valleys and gorges, ancient sink holes and impressive rocky outcrops.
On the hilltops there are hundreds of ancient monuments yielding evocative tales of ancient peoples, while on the steeper slopes flower rich grasslands and wooded combes offer a variety of habitats for a wide diversity of wildlife. The hill tops also provide spectacular far reaching views across to Wales, the Quantocks and Glastonbury Tor. Hidden beneath the hills are the famous Mendip caves - Cheddar and Wookey cave attractions but there are many less accessible caves, together with on going cave exploration making this a popular area for caving. The area also offers sailing and fishing on the reservoirs, cycling, horse riding, walking and host of other activities that are referred to in this Guide.
I have lived in Cheddar for over 40 years and walk every day in the Mendip Hills with my dogs. Charterhouse is a particularly special place to me– remnants of the Roman and Victorian lead mining – ‘gruffy’ ground, lead slag and lead flues now provide an important wildlife habitat. The tranquillity in the early morning and the opportunity to spot a variety of birds, adders and other wildlife here in the heart of the AONB is second to none.
The Mendip Hills AONB Partnership works to conserve and enhance this special landscape, and we have produced a visitor guide on what to see and do in the area. I hope you take the opportunity to explore and enjoy the AONB, whether a local resident or visitor.
Councillor Dawn Hill
Mendip Hills AONB Partnership Chair
Did you know?
- Cheddar Gorge is the largest gorge in the UK; its cliffs are also the highest inland limestone cliffs in the country
- The limestone caves in the Mendips, which were formed by water erosion, are a national centre for caving and cave-diving
- Cheddar Pink is the county flower of Somerset and only grows in the Mendip Hills and, most profusely, in Cheddar Gorge
- Approximately 4 million gallons of water run off the Mendip Hills daily, supplying water to over 1 million people
- The Strawberry Line recreational route follows the old railway line (closed 1965) that transported strawberries around the country from the fields on the southwesterly Mendip slopes
- The Roman invasion of Britain in AD43 was partly inspired by the mineral wealth of the Mendips. The Romans established a mining settlement at Charterhouse and the Romans used the lead to line the Roman Baths in nearby Bath