Cheddar Gorge Access at Risk

by Jack Geldard and Duncan Campbell - UKC May/2014
This news story has been read 8,178 times

Bad Behaviour Leaves Cheddar Staff Cheesed-Off

Access is at risk in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset. Everyone climbing at Cheddar must have third party liability insurance, and must keep away from several banned areas. These rules are being regularly broken, and when approached by Cheddar Gorge staff, some climbers are being aggressive.

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+Cheddar exposure. Goats R Us F6b+, 163 kb
Cheddar exposure. Goats R Us F6b+
© alew, May 2011

+Paradise lost, Cheddar. 7b (top pitch), 238 kb
Paradise lost, Cheddar. 7b (top pitch)
© Brian H, Mar 2012
Cheddar Gorge is a classic crag with atmospheric routes such as Coronation Street, E1 5b, Castles Made of Sand, 6c, and Paradise Lost, 7b. The crag sits literally right above to the road, minimising the walk-in, but meaning any cars or people below are right in the rockfall firing line.

It is the beautiful rock architecture and picturesque road winding through the gorge that draws not only climbers but tourists, geologists and wildlife enthusiasts. All these groups enjoy the rock formations, up close and on private land.

So what do we do?

Historically no climbing was allowed between March and October to minimise the risk to tourists, however in recent years this was amended to the current agreement:

  • During very busy periods no climbing is allowed on the South side of the Gorge.
  • In moderately busy periods, climbing is allowed on certain crags that have been cleaned of loose rock as much as possible.
  • When the gorge is quiet all routes on the South side of the Gorge are open for climbing.

In addition to this, in order to climb in Cheddar Gorge climbers are required to have third party liability insurance in case they cause injury or damage property. This often comes with being a member a climbing club, or of the BMC, though can also be purchased separately. 

To prevent further damage to the reputation of climbers the BMC urges anyone planning on climbing in Cheddar Gorge to do the following before heading there:

  • Make sure you are insured
  • Check the BMC access database
  • Only park in the long-stay visitor car parks
  • Be friendly to any CC&G Staff you talk to
  • If you see climbers climbing in a restricted area let them know

​For more information on the issue you can read more on the BMC site. 

Forums ( Read More... | 27 comments, 22 May 2014 )
I realise a lot of careful negotiations went into arranging access at Cheddar, but I too find it confusing at first and usually tend to go for the easy option of the North side crags. I suggest putting the access...
dereke12000 - 22 May 2014

I've seen that "winter" "summer" bar being ignored, people don't know what it means. I know what it means, but the gym monkey coming out of the city don't. What I'm saying is that it should say...
Ramon Marin - 22 May 2014

Hi Mehmet, I'm afraid that's incorrect - climbing is defined as a permitted activity under CRoW and is something the BMC fought hard to be included in the legislation. Recreational climbers have a legal right of access...
Rob Dyer, BMC - 21 May 2014

Sorry for not responding earlier to this thread - I've been away at meetings and site visits around the country for the last week or so and just getting round to catching up now. In response to the idea of signage, we...
Rob Dyer, BMC - 21 May 2014

It says at the top of every page, in a big coloured bar, whether it is Winter, Summer (non-peak) or all-year access. The book is arranged with the South side crags (either winter or summer season) at the start and North...
andrewmcleod - 20 May 2014

I climb at the Gorge every now and then and I find really confusing to understand the ban. I normally opt for something I know is for sure safe like remnant or Lions rock. But I can see why so many punters would get it...
Ramon Marin - 20 May 2014

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