Get Ready to Explore the Mendip Hills
What is it that makes Mendip so special?
Well to begin with, Mendip is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which means that not only is this area special for its landscape and stunning scenery but also that the area is protected to conserve and enhance that beauty!
Unquestionably Mendip is fantastic walking country. The landscape is characterized by the most striking ravine in Britain and you’re spoiled for choice with long distance paths and trails routing across the countryside.
However, if you’re dependent on using finger-posts and spotting access gates for your navigation, Mendip may leave you feeling rather perplexed…and a little lost!
Wonderfully, the countryside appears untouched. Indeed the majority of tracks are difficult to identify (even to the trained eye!). Be assured, your passage across the countryside will require negotiating with stiles over fences and walls that are barely discernible.
So before you start your adventure – grab yourself an Ordnance Survey map. It will be worth every penny. Too true, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve gone off-piste in the Mendip Hills. Ultimately my experiences here encouraged me not only to complete several navigation courses but also to purchase a GPS navigator to boot 😉
Not short of tourist attractions, Mendip boasts the most spectacular landform geology in the South, a huge underground network of caves, sandy beaches and beautifully high crests that dominate the horizon.
Adventures in Mendip are abundant because of the diversity of the landscape itself – with its caverns and gorges, boulder-strewn climbs and ancient woodland paths, there are opportunities to try sports and activities that take you from rock to water and everything in-between.
Mendip is the national center for caving with miles of caves to explore. The area is also a cyclist’s heaven (although it’s useful to have a powerful set of calves if you intend to negotiate the Mendip Hills).
The limestone hills of Mendip offer 76 square miles of rich flower grasslands and are a must for bird and butterfly spotters alike; marvel at the pearl-bordered butterflies, colonies of bats, and the illustrious herds of wild goats who preserve the landscape.
Indeed, no trip to Mendip would be complete without a sighting of those famous goats – notorious for wandering into local gardens and helping themselves to prize petunias while their continuous chit chatter “Meh-eh-eh Meh-eh-eh” rings across the countryside.
All of the counties in the South of England are rich in their history of folklore and storytelling, but none more so than Somerset. Mendip will immerse you in a world rich with tales of pixies, faeries, witches and wizards.
It’s not difficult to imagine King Arthur questing across the land in his search for the Holy Grail or chasing the odd dragon!
Mendip is nicely accessible – an easy drive from Bristol Airport, it’s close to Bristol and Bath city centres. If you’re coming from London, after two and a half hours you’ll enter a diverse landscape of hills, forests, rocky crags and sublime beaches stretching all the way to the Bristol Channel.
That said, public transportation within Mendip is a bit iffy. Some of the attractions in the area are rather remote and can be difficult to get to if you don’t have a car. Do look-up the bus stops and timetables before you head out!
Don’t be caught out by the-last-bus-left-at-4pm malarkey. Pre-book taxis with local firms the day before…. or you may be waiting several hours for a pick-up!
Mendip is extremely friendly and the locals are incredibly rich in their knowledge of the area. They’ll be happy to point you to hidden gems and help you on your journey – including picking you up and taking you back to civilization after you’ve wandered 7 miles in the wrong direction…though perhaps not if you start making a habit of it!
Top things to do
There are some destinations you go to and, regardless of wind or rain, what you see or what you do, the adventure is always epic. Mendip is one of those places – no two trips are ever the same and the beauty never fails to impress!
Check out our list of top things to do in Mendip:
- Abseil, climb and crawl your way through a technical caving experience at Wookey Hole – A must-try for all intrepid underground adventurers
- Try your hand at the towering rock faces of Cheddar Gorge with a climbing session or cliff walk. Afterward, grab a mountainous sized ice cream cone, cave matured cheddar and lush Somerset Cider in Cheddar village
- Trek up Crook Peak to enjoy the views across Somerset
- Scramble up the less touristy, little brother to Cheddar Gorge – Ebbor Gorge
- Relax with a picnic at the Draycott Sleights Nature Reserve
- Visit Cox’s and Gough’s Caves and learn about prehistoric human life in the Gorge including the ‘Cheddar Man’
- Meet the infamous witch of Wookey Hole
- Stock up on candy and arcade games whilst enjoying the sandy beaches of Weston-super-Mare