Cheddar Gorge (SW #1) Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

0.8
FIETS
2.2 mi
DISTANCE
561 ft
GAINED
4.8 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

INTRO

Cheddar Gorge has been referred to as second greatest natural wonder in Britain. This is Climb #1 of Simon Warren's 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs (Great Britain). 
The average grade is 4.8% for 3.6 kilometers with 0 descent - this is all climb. 72% of the climb (2.6 km) is at 0-5%, 23% (.8 km) at 5-10% and 5% (200m) 10-15%.  The steepest continuous 500 meters is 9.5% and steepest kilometer is 7.9%. 

Use the “Routes in Area” button in the menu to see what other climbs are in the area. 
Roadway:  Excellent.

Traffic:  Mild.

Parking:  There is public parking in Cheddar a few blocks from the start of the climb - Map; Street View.
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Stay in the village of Cheddar and be sure to visit The Original Cheddar Cheese Company.  Some very unique and cool house rentals are also available in Cheddar.

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CLIMB SUMMARY

panoramic view of limestone rock faces at Cheddar Gorge

Cycling Cheddar Gorge, England

Ride 2.2 miles gaining 561’ at 4.8% average grade.

Cheddar Gorge is the largest gorge in England and one of its most epic bike climbs.

Cycling Cheddar Gorge - Cheese with "The Original Cheddar Cheese Co." logo, roads lined with limestone rock walls

Upper left and center photo:  The Original Cheddar Cheese Company.

Cheddar Gorge is one of England's most stunning roads, hands down. The secret is out though and it is also the most heavily trafficked climb of the 50+ that I have ridden in England documenting it’s top bike climbs. Perhaps its relative close proximity to London plays a role in the heavy traffic, but surely the main driver is the magnificent landscape. The town of Cheddar has no shortage of boutique shops and quaint restaurants and sits directly at the base of the Gorge. Within a quarter mile of riding from the town you will be surrounded by the rocky canyon walls which rise up hundreds of feet in all directions. There are a number of hiking trails that jet out like spider webs from the road as well as a number of popular spots for rock climbing. This is an adventurers paradise! This climb itself is not all too steep, nor long - but it is well worth doing. It is one of the most spectacular in all of England.

Cycling Cheddar Gorge - arial drone view of winding roads and limestone rock walls of Cheddar Gorge

Cheddar Gorge is one of the most scenic of the GCC 100.  What it lacks in challenge (it’s a relatively steady 5% grade over 3.6 km) it more than makes up for in stunning scenery, particularly the shear limestone walls of the gorge as we climb from the western edge of Cheddar (pop. 5,755, 2011) eastbound up the B3135.

photo collage shows town of Cheddar

Climb begins at the eastern edge of Cheddar.

Cycling Cheddar Gorge - bus on road, gift shops and cheese shops, bike leaning against low rock wall

Cheddar cheese shops and gift shops on B3135 at start of climb.

By the way cheese fans -- this is where cheddar cheese originated!  Cheddar cheese is now the official cheese of PJAMM Cycling!!

 

Cycling Cheddar Gorge - winding road leading into parking lot lined with limestone rock walls 

You’ll find a parking lot just up from the start of the climb.

aerial drone view shows views of limestone rock faces at Cheddar Gorge

The Gorge. 

Cycling Cheddar Gorge - photo collage, winding roads tightly lined with limestone rock walls, greenery growing on top of limestone rocks

Limestone rock walls hug the first mile.

photo collage shows vies riding through the gorge; breathtaking views of limestone rock walls

This climb is all about riding through the gorge.

aerial drone views of cheddar gorge

Aerial views of Cheddar Gorge.

aerial drone view shows the roadway back up from the gorge to town of Cheddar

Aerial view southwest showing the entire route back to Cheddar (upper left).

photo collage shows bike and PJAMM Cycling England jersey parked against wooden fence next to roadway; sheep walk in roadway

Area at and near the unmarked end of the climb -- incredible experience!

Cheddar Gorge was included in the British National Hill Climb Championships in 2007 (James Dobbin won the second of his two consecutive championships this year).

James Dobbin - 2007 Hill Climb Championship ride.

Photo:  CyclingWeekly.com

“Using his local knowledge to good effect Dobbin, who lives around 20 miles away from the course, clocked 6-51.5 to beat rival David Clarke (Blue Sky Cycles) from Derbyshire into second by 6.1 seconds, while Mike Vaughan cycles rider Matt Clinton, from Coventry, was third” (CyclingWeekly.com).

Simon Warren writes of this climb:

“Cut deep into the Mendip Hills lies Cheddar Gorge, a natural phenomenon that makes a stunning setting to climb through. . . you will always find cyclists on its slopes as it offers a tough but not overwhelming challenge to riders of all abilities. . .”  100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, A Road Cyclists Guide to Britain’s Hills (Simon Warren, 2010 pp. 16-17).

Cheddar Gorge is the largest gorge in the United Kingdom and known for caves, cheddar cheese, and strawberries. It is popular with cave enthusiasts and rock climbers as well. This village is a major tourist destination and is the home of the “Cheddar Man,” England's oldest skeleton (Cheddar, Somerset).

Named as the “Second Greatest Natural Wonder in Britain,” Cheddar Gorge is located in the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).  For our non-UK readers, an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” is basically the equivalent of a National Park in the United States.  They consist of 46 areas which have been designated for conservation in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland due to significant value of the landscape.  As part of the Mendip Hills AONB, the climb at Cheddar Gorge affords stunning views from the top.  Cheddar Gorge is made of limestone, and coupled with the lakes of the Chew Valley, makes for a breathtaking landscape consisting of “steep slopes and undulating plateau punctuated by spectacular gorges and rocky outcrops” (Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).  

Come for the ride, stay for the views and caves:

Cycling Cheddar Gorge - tall limestone rock walls with green grass growing atop sloped portions, road in center

Photo Credit: Philip Young

Cheddar Gorge is part of the Cheddar Complex, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and is a limestone gorge in the Mendip Hills which attracts 500,000 visitors per year.  Cheddar Gorge is the location of Gough’s cave, where in 1903 the “Cheddar Man,” Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton, was found.  Fossil records date the Cheddar Man back to the Mesolithic period, over 9,000 years ago (Cheddar Man).  In addition to the Cheddar Man’s remains, older remains from the Upper Late Palaeolithic era (12,000–13,000 years ago) have also been found in the Cheddar Gorge area.  The caves, produced over 1.2 million years by the activity of an underground river, contain stalactites and stalagmites and were the inspiration for the Deep Helms in Tolkien’s The Two Towers  (Cheddar Gorge).  Any fans of The Lord of the Rings trilogy will feel like they’ve stepped into a familiar land here.

Cycling Cheddar Gorge - stalactites and stalagmites

Photo Credit: Visit Bristol

Don’t let this amazing bike ride be the only thing you do around Cheddar Gorge.  There is so much to see in this beautiful area that you won’t want to miss out on.  As you’re cycling, keep an eye out for wildlife--you’ll see goats grazing and rabbits hopping through the grassy slopes.  Whether you’re interested in biking, hiking, spelunking, rock climbing, history, science, or just overall sightseeing, Cheddar Gorge is definitely a “must see” attraction.

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