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Green Travel Guide to the Mendip Hills

The Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, just south of Bristol, is a magnificent, varied landscape, a dramatic scene of open wild plateau and undulating hills interrupted by deep gorges, prehistoric hilltop settlements, serene lakes and dense woodland. Beyond the well-known attractions of Cheddar Gorge and Wookey Hole the area remains relatively unaffected by high tourist numbers, making it a haven for walkers, cyclists and lovers of the great outdoors. With everything from eco-minded B&Bs and farm shops selling fresh, local produce to activity centres and Archeology festivals, the Mendip Hills has something to offer everyone.

Filmed by Green Traveller

Foreword by Councillor Dawn Hill, Mendip Hills AONB Retired Partnership Chair

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.

What Green Traveller's writers discovered in the Mendip Hills  

Stay, Eat, See & Do

Our pick of places across the glorious Mendip Hills

Google Map Key:
Click on the coloured icons for more information about each listing
Green = Places to stay; Blue = Places to eat; Yellow = Attractions; Purple = Activities

Click on the square brackets on the top right of the map to reveal an expanded map

  • 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)
    hat 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 used the lead to line the Roman Baths in nearby Bath

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Photographic highlights of our trip to the Mendip Hills

Words by Paul Bloomfield. Photos by Diana Jarvis and Paul Miles.
Artwork for Green Traveller's Guides by Tina Smith and Mark Edwards.