Climbs 615
Rocktype Limestone
Altitude 186m a.s.l
Faces N

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Coronation Street © jonesdwill

Crag features

(Summer prohibitions are in place as detailed in the approach notes, please read the approach notes in full.... Put briefly, don't climb on the south side unless you have read all the small print!... bans are in place during several public holidays... spring break, bank hol wkends, the whole of July + Aug, but even then there are still some allowed areas which you can discover by reading the approach notes.)

Mostly good quality limestone on the sport routes, but often dirty, vegetated + of variable quality on the trad. Mainly middle grade climbs, predominately single pitch to 30 metres.

Approach notes

Firstly, to clarify one often misunderstood access note.... The "Summer Season" area... It unfortunately does not mean climbing on routes in that area is allowed throughout the whole of summer!... for alot of the summer, yes, but there are some quite lengthy prohibited periods too... These are holiday periods, most notably the whole of July and August, the spring Bank hol week, and other weekends whenever there is a Bank Holiday, to protect tourists from loose rock /breaking holds and dropped gear, most of the south side is prohibited at those times. But a few variations are listed below. 

Please read all the approach notes info, restricted access info, and check the most up to date access info here by downloading the new 2019 access map.

The South Side is privately owned, and to climb on any of it, Civil Liability insurance (e.g. from BMC, MCoS, CC Membership) is mandatory and proof of this must be carried. Spot checks are regularly carried out by the warden (this is not so for the North side, as it is owned by the National Trust,  but is still recommended). 

Much of Cheddar's South side (North-facing = the right hand side as you drive up the gorge) is banned during times of public and school holidays. This includes ALL the multi pitch sport routes. In addition, some of these marked (WW), are only allowed during Winter Season = 1st Oct to 15 March. 

For a trial period which started in 2019, during the public holidays and summer restricted periods, on the South Side after 6pm, 3 crags will have the restriction lifted...

On Horse-shoe Bend Buttress, Yew Tree Wall, and Ginsberg Wall, from 2019 during the holidays, climbing is now allowed after 6pm. This is for a trial period.

Also from 2019, South side restrictions have been lifted for all crags going up the road from and including Reservoir Walls, so the following crags  now have unrestricted access, i.e. all year, as part of the trial period for 2019...

Reservoir Walls, Eden Crack Area, Quaking Wall, Pepys Rock, Roadside, The Holding Bay, The Pigs Hole, Elliot's Edge, The Far Bay, and Spider Hole Quarries.

Everything else South side is then prohibited during these holidays including trad and sport on Long Wall and Scary Monsters area and crags immediately above, and especially WW routes are prohibited for the whole of summer season! 

If climbers can be seen to be carefully following the agreement and not straying into restricted areas, then these access gains may become a permanent fixture.

Many thanks to BMC Cheddar warden Mark Courtiour and Cheddar Caves and Gorges for successfully negotiating this. Please remember to follow the agreements and stick to the Cheddar climbers code of conduct which is on pg 9 of the latest (2015) Martin Crocker guide book.

Details of all other restrictions can be viewed in the guide, in the box on page 10, (also top of page 8 to bottom of page 9), or near those page nos. if older MC guide.

You can buy this in the "The Gorge Outdoors + chalk + gear + all sorts etc, opposite Cheddar Gorge cheese Co, just after 1st car park at bottom. It's open M-Sat 10-5, Sun 11-4, although not sure if this changes a bit in winter. Some other shops there may also sell it if climbing shop has ran out...

Please check the most up to date access info which is on the BMC RAD pages, and the link below will download the new 2019 access map.

Please click the Restricted Access advice below left for full info.

Restricted Access

The south side of the gorge is privately owned by Cheddar Caves & Gorge and forms part of the Longleat Estate. It is not Open Access land under the CRoW Act (2000), unlike the National Trust owned land on the north side of the Gorge. Cheddar is unique in the fact that many of the crags are directly above a busy road which forms part of a major tourist attraction in the area. Unlike many crags, where a dropped piece of gear or rock is unlikely to have any impact on a member of the public, in Cheddar it has far greater potential to injure a visitor or damage a car. 

Because of this, for climbing on the south side the year is split into three seasons according to the number of visitors to the gorge.  During the busiest periods, all crags on the south side are closed, during the moderately busy periods only the restored routes (which have been cleared of loose rock as far as possible) on the south side are open, and during quiet periods all routes are open. These seasons are based on school and public holidays so change slightly every year.

Anyone climbing on the south side of Cheddar Gorge must carry civil liability cover of at least £10 million. This comes as standard with BMC or MCofS membership or can be organised separately. BMC/MCofS membership cards or details of your individual policy must be carried as proof of cover whilst climbing on the south side of the Gorge and the climbing warden and CC&G staff carry out frequent checks. Civil liability is also recommended for anyone climbing on the north side of the Gorge, but is not a requirement.

The BMC Cheddar Gorge Access Map has full details of which areas can be accessed during which periods. This should be considered required reading for any climber visiting the Gorge, regardless of which side or area you plan to climb on. A trial started in 2019 allows additional access to some areas so check the map before you visit as new year round access is available on three crags, but climbers need to demonstrate an ability to follow the agreed restrictions to make this a permanent lifting of restrictions.

The latest guide to the Gorge - 'Cheddar Gorge Climbs' (M. Crocker, 2015) – has a definitive list of restored routes on the south side as well as routes on the north side. It is available from The Gorge Outdoors shop in Cheddar village, as well as other climbing and outdoor shops in the area.

The latest guide to the Gorge - 'Cheddar Gorge Climbs' (M. Crocker, 2015) – has a definitive list of restored routes on the south side as well as routes on the north side. It is available from The Gorge Outdoors shop in Cheddar village, as well as other climbing and outdoor shops in the area.

It has been reported that there is some confusion or misunderstanding of the use of the terms "restored" and "unrestored" routes in relation to access.  Restored routes are trad routes that were cleaned and equiped with lower off bolts, and sport routes that were  bolted or rebolted and equipped.  This work was carried out as part of the Cheddar Gorge Climbing project between 2003 - 2005.  All these routes are described in the current guide book  - Cheddar Gorge Climbs by Martin Crocker.  The access agreement  only includes routes found in this guide.  Some restored routes in the guide remain as winter only routes. This includes most of the multi pitch routes in the gorge. Full details are in the guide.  The climbs on the South side listed in previous guide books and not found in the current  book, including the previous CC guides are winter access only - 1st October -- 15th March.

Annual loose rock removal carried out by the landowners has nothing to do with access changes for climbers and has no bearing on on the climbing access agreements.  It is carried out entirely in the interest of safety for visitors to the gorge.


Seasonal Restrictions

Dates: 16 March to 30 September

Reason: Public Safety

Due to the proximity of Cheddar's cliffs to the road and tourists below, there are complex access restritions which vary depending on the time of year and section of cliff on the south side of the Gorge. These restrictions are fully detailed in the BMC's Cheddar Gorge Access Map.

Please ensure you follow the access agreements detailed on the map to ensure that future access is able to continue. It is imperative that climbers self police otherwise access permission may be withdrawn by the landowner Cheddar Caves & Gorge.

Castles Made of Sand is no longer the Longest Sport Route in the UK, The Rock Bottom Line in Twll Mawr, Dinorwic Slate Quarries is currently the longest fully bolted Sport route in the UK. Rhinestone Cowboy on the Little Orme may also have a claim for the longest sport / trad / hybrid route in the UK.
Sl@te Head - 07/Oct/11 A really useful tool!
beardy mike - 02/Nov/10
Utopia is also clean. Top out is still an exciting ivy cornice though, wouldn't be right to remove all the ivy. Fantastic climb, second pitch is awesome just climb around the blocks at the bottom of the chimney. There are bolt belays on sport routes that you can use if you want. A good first cheddar adventure! Enjoy
SC - 14/Dec/07
Rooks climb VS is now clean. Excellent three pitch route, fantastic exposure on the first pitch. Second pitch looks harder than it is, the flared chimney is hilariously good fun. The ledge is sitll covered in ivy but you can traverse across the bottom of the face on big jugs. Finish on the excellent top pitch of Knights climb. Enjoy.
SC - 15/Oct/07
Utopia, the classic VS has had a recent clean. Not perfect but a bit of traffic will soon have it sorted. Still a big adventure, spectacuar positions & tricky climbing. First pitch is probably 5a. There is a bolt belay (from another route) about 5 meters above and left of the original belay, nice to be able to choose. Bolt belay at the top of the first chimney. Top of the second chimney is very exciting, hands full of ivy! Original top pitch looked beyond help so we didn't bother. Walk off left to the summit of sunset buttress & take in the best view in somerset. Enjoy.
SC - 15/Oct/07
The 'well trodden path/scramble' noted in the guide book was actually pretty dangerous, steep with loose rock, mud and general unpleasantness. There is an old rope in place for assistance, and it *seems* trustworthy at time of writing. However, I'd warn off going for the higher crags in the gully. We wasted an hour scrambling up, gave up, came down and went climbing by the roadside. Much more sensible.
tomrowan - 16/Oct/06
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