Caving in The Mendips with Adventure Caving (Image credit: http://www.adventurecaving.co.uk/)

Caving in The Mendips with Adventure Caving

The Mendips are a ridge of carboniferous limestone hills that run from Bristol in the west to Frome in the east of Somerset. They contrast sharply with the flat Somerset Levels which flow out south from the base of the Mendip Hills. The limestone has been valuable as a commodity in the past and there are many quarries dotted around the Mendips as well as the magnificent caves carved by water seeping through them for thousands of years at Cheddar and Wookey Hole.

Outdoor activities are popular in the Mendips. There are plenty of caving and climbing opportunities and certainly gives you a different perspective of the area. There are plenty of walks crossing the hills and walking the hills will give you the best views of the area. If you fancy less strenuous walks you'll find riverside walks and gentle strolls down in the valleys. Mountain biking trails have also been identified throughout the Mendip Hills with a variety of difficulty gradings so there's something to suit everyone.

The wild side of The Mendips around Cheddar Gorge

The wild side of The Mendips around Cheddar Gorge

The Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The Mendips are a limestone ridge of hills that gives North Somerset much of its character with rolling green countryside dotted with flower rich grasslands, ancient hedgerows and woodlands. This landscape is fantastic for all sorts of wildlife including a huge variety of bat species including the rare horseshoe bats. The Mendips are a focal point for enjoying the countryside in North Somerset whether it be walking or outdoor activities. As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) activities are managed to conserve the character and protect the landscape and wildlife of the area. The boundary of the Mendip Hills AONB actually runs from south of Weston-super-Mare across to Chew Valley Lake and Chewton Mendip.

Check out the Mendip Hills AONB website for an interactive map showing viewpoints and places of interest within the AONB area - excellent for making sure you get those stunning photos. You can also download maps and walk or bike cards from their website to help plan your outdoor pursuits in the Mendips. The AONB Service also organises a range of courses and guided walks.

Chew Valley Lake Birdwatching & Fly Fishing

Chew Valley Lake is a popular, easily accessible visitor attraction in the Mendips. It is the fifth largest reservoir in the UK and was created to provide Bristol with drinking water in the 1950s. It is fringed with common reed and is a popular bird watching haunt. In fact it receives national and international protection due to it being an important staging post for migrating waders, terns and warblers. You're likely to see a good range of wintering wildfowl too such as shoveler, gadwall, teal, tufted duck, goldeneye, wigeon, snipe, lapwing and redshank. The Glebe Trail here is an easygoing walk that is accessible for prams and wheelchairs. Chew Valley Lake is also a world renowned trout fishery where fly fishing is popular. Tickets are available for either boat or bank fishing.

Adventure Activities in The Mendips

Cheddar Gorge in the Mendips is one of the few places in the country where you can just turn up and go rock climbing, abseiling or more adventurous exploration of Cheddar Caves by caving beneath the Mendip Hills. The Mendip Hills provide lots of opportunities for adventure activities. The limestone that underlies the Mendips is easily eroded by water so caves and potholes form easily. Many of these have been explored by local cavers - many of whom now offer their expertise as part of adventure activity courses or team building events. The sides of the gorges in the Mendips provide some excellent climbing opportunities. You can try it out as an introduction and progress onto steeper climbs all within the Mendip area. There is a whole host of outdoor activity companies operating in the Mendips area.

Mountain Bike Trails in The Mendips Hills

There are several mountain biking trails that take you right round the Mendip Hills ridge. The Mendip Fat Tyre Trails are three circular routes graded easy, moderate or difficult/severe. They criss cross the Mendip Hills so you can do different parts to suit your ability or link them up for longer rides. You can download bike cards and biking maps from the Mendip Hills AONB website.

West Mendip Way

The West Mendip Way is a long distance walking route starting in Uphill near Weston-super-Mare, taking you through the southern scarp of the Mendip Hills overlooking the Somerset Levels, through Cheddar Gorge, down to Wookey Hole and ending in Wells. The route is 28 miles long taking you through some of Somerset's most stunning landscapes. Some people base their holiday around completing the whole walk over a period of days or you can just pick different sections to complete during your stay in the Mendips. You sure to find comfortable holiday accommodation along the way. There are plenty of other shorter walks through the Mendips, many start off from around the Charterhouse Centre - an outdoor centre and the base for the AONB Service near Blagdon. These take you through Blackmoor and Longwood Nature Reserve and up to the highest point in the Mendips, Beacon Bath on Blackdown.

Accommodation in the Mendips

  • Wookey Hole, Wells
    Prices from
    £359
    Per week (seasonal) sleeps 6
     
    Luxury range Wookey Hole holiday lodges with private hot tubs, outdoor seating, wonderful views & 2 or 3 bedrooms. No pets. Cots & high chairs for hire. Short breaks.
     
  • Chewton Mendip
    Prices from
    £36
    Per Person B&B (2 sharing)
     
    Charming and rustic, The Post House is a Grade II Listed building with an elegant, stylish interior, perfectly situated just 5 miles from Wells. The beautifully renovated buildi...
     
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    £25
    Per person B&B (2 sharing)
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 28 reviews
    Rating from 28 reviews
    Welcoming farmhouse B&B near Wells, excellent hospitality, good facilities and fantastic location. Perfect venue for marquee wedding receptions.
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  • Prices from
    £1,295
    Per week low season (Sleeps up to 15) Weekends available
     
    Ashcroft House Self Catering Cottage sits in the peaceful Mendip Hills, yet is within easy reach of Bristol Airport.Try Biking, Riding, Walking. Sleeps up to 15
     
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  • Prices from
    £26
    Per night, static caravan (based on occupancy)
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 770 reviews
    Rating from 770 reviews
    4 Star Quality in tourism Award / 4 Pennant AA Award /Bronze David Bellamy award. Pet friendly family holiday park in Cheddar with outdoor heated pool, restaurant, bar & play area
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  • Winscombe
    Sleeps 6
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    £450
    Per Week (seasonal) Sleeps 6
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 17 reviews
    Rating from 17 reviews
    Family friendly 3 bedroom cottage at Home Farm in Barton near Cheddar, set in 2 acres with lawned area, WiFi, parking and well equipped kitchen. One small dog welcome.
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  • Cheddar
    Sleeps 6
    Prices from
    £300
    Per Week (Seasonal) Sleeps 2-6
     
    A range of luxurious self catering apartments at the foot of Cheddar Gorge. Superb views of the Mendip Hills & Gorge. Ideal for families. Sleep 2-6. Private parking for all guests.
     
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  • Winscombe
    Sleeps 4
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    £400
    per week (seasonal) Sleeps 4
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 17 reviews
    Rating from 17 reviews
    Character two bedroom cottage at Home Farm in Barton near Cheddar, single storey with large patio, WiFi, parking and fully fitted kitchen. Set in 2 acres. Cot/ highchair on request
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  • Prices from
    £341
    Per week (seasonal) sleeps 2
     
    Romantic holiday cottage in Wookey Hole. Modern, luxury property not far from Wells, with a roof-top garden and state-of-the-art facilities. Parking on site.
     
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  • Wells
    Sleeps 2
    Prices from
    £299
    Per week (seasonal), sleeps 2
     
    Set in a secluded position high in the Mendips above Cheddar Gorge and just 3 miles from Cheddar, these three attractive barn conversions make an excellent base for walkers and ...
     
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