We got up early on the Wednesday, picked up some bargain pain au raisins from Boulangerie, only slightly regretting the lack of a smashed avocado breakfast from Spoons, and headed for Cheddar Gorge.
Let the Navigator and the OS Map reveal what a wondrous bit of England this is.
Oddly, we’d never stopped at the Gorge before, put off by huge queues and tacky commercialisation (that never stopped us visiting Wookey Hole, mind).
Apparently visitor numbers have been plummeting of late, no doubt as visitors to the UK succumb to the competing attractions of Stockport and Ramsgate. Attempts by co-owner the Marquis of Bath to build a “Heights of Abraham” style cable car seem to be on hold, and the views up the gorge were at their magnificent unencumbered best.
Despite being first there, Mrs RM and I contrived to have a rumbustious argument about parking (I always park as far away as humanly possible from wherever we’re going).
I suspect I was in the wrong, but Mrs RM nipped in the £1 store to buy me some authentic Cheddar fudge, which reduced the simmering tension.
While we waited for the Gorge to open, we popped in the pub.
I was very doubtful the White Hart actually would open at 10am, but obviously some people want your custom. It wasn’t a case of “Only coffee till noon” either. The landlord was busy in basic maintenance, but unlike certain pubs in Maidenhead and Widnes recently there was no tripping over hoover leads and being made to feel like we were putting them out.
Very much your “basic all-rounder in a tourist area“, and very welcoming it was too.
Clearly it relies on a cheap, unpretentious lunch trade from folk not already stuffed with chocolate fudge and cream teas, and those beers above have to sell themselves on quality rather than rarity.
Oddly, the Butcombe was only OK (NBSS 2.5), but the Cheddar Ales was nectar (NBSS 4.5). The luck of the barrel, but you’ll be able to guess which one Mrs RM had.
Very 1977, both in style and in a soundtrack of the Jam’s “News of the World” and “Knowing Me, Knowing You“. Ah-haa.
Fortified, we set off to explore whatever it is you explore in Cheddar. It’s very much a southern version of Matlock Bath, with Swiss valley styling, right down to the inevitable Prosecco flavoured rock (I resisted).
The show caves would have cost us £20 each, and we’re very stingy (it was a fiver to park), so we just stuck to the footpath until we got distracted by a café called Edelweiss (really).
The views from up near Totty Pot were worth the effort.
Back down the hill in Draycott, the other Guide entry looks a little isolated on the A371, but has some luxury holiday chalets for company.
Cider is the main draw, with folk coming in to buy gallon takeaways for their late breakfasts, but the Cheddar Bully was very good too (NBSS 3.5).
The owners were happy to chat in between making scary cider and scarier black pudding scotch eggs (top), the substantial remains of which were found in my fleece pocket the next morning. Joy unbridled.
The toilets are something else too, you’ll have to wait for those.
Never mind 1977, here’s the best of 1978,
Calories consumed 2,779.
Caloried burnt off in the Gorge 279.