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The Mendips are a range of hills in northern Somerset in the south-west of the United Kingdom. The area is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.[20]


Compton Bishop: church and village in the Mendip Hills, by Martin Clark, 2005

The Mendips are carboniferous limestone hills, situated a few miles south of Bristol, just north of the Somerset Levels. There have been quarries and mining here from early times, all mining has now ceased. Caving, climbing and hiking are popular outdoor activities.

The caves at Cheddar contain traces of Palaeolithic man. Lead, copper, silver were mined from the Bronze age, through Roman times up until the nineteenth century.

The tops of the Mendips consist mostly of grassland, grazed by sheep and there is a wide variety of plant and animal life for those interested in natural history.


  • Priddy
  • Charterhouse
  • Cheddar
  • Wookey Hole
  • East Harptree
  • Wells

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Bristol International airport is well served from most of Europe and is situated a few miles north.

By train[edit]

The nearest railway stations are at Bath, Bristol, Weston super Mare and Frome.

By bus[edit]

First Bus [21] operate services in the area.


Fairly easily accessible from the M5 motorway, Bristol, Bath, Wells, Weston super Mare.


Many of the more interesting destinations are only accessible on foot. Walking guides are available from the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty service [22].

Get around[edit]

The Chew Valley Explorer [23] bus serves many of the local villages. Some other bus services are provided by First Bus as above. Otherwise you need to walk or use a car.

See[edit][add listing]

Stalagmites and Stalactites - Gough's cave, Cheddar. Extensive limestone cave systems formed by the action of water. Gwen and James Anderson, 2006
  • Blackmoor Reserve
  • Black Rock Reserve
  • Bleadon Hill
  • Burrington Combe
  • Charterhouse
  • Cheddar Gorge
  • Cheddar Caves
  • Chew Valley Lake
  • Crook Peak
  • Dolebury Hillfort
  • Ebbor Gorge
  • Priddy Green
  • Stockhill and Priddy Mineries Reserve
  • Wookey Hole

Do[edit][add listing]

Outdoor pursuits[edit]

  • Mendip Climb, [1]. A guide to local climbs  edit
  • Mendip Outdoor Pursuits, The Warehouse, Silver Street, Congresbury, 01934 834 877 (, fax: 01934 834 888), [2]. Offer a variety of activities including climbing, abseiling, caving, hill walking, orienteering  edit
  •, 01761 232 026 (), [3]. Caving, climbing, abseiling, kit hire.  edit
  • Somerset Wildlife Trust, Chancellor’s Farm, Plummer’s Lane, Priddy, 01749 871 248 (), [4]. Manages several nature reserves in the Mendip Hills, information on website  edit
  • Chew Valley Lake, Woodford Lodge, Chew Stoke, Bristol, 01275 332 339 (, fax: 01275 331 377), [5]. Over 260 different species of birds have been recorded, ranging from tiny reed warblers to Bewick's swans. Permits available for some reserve areas, also for fishing the lake.  edit
  • Wessex Cave Club, Upper Pitts, Eastwater Lane, Priddy, 01749 672 310, [6]. Local caving club, with a club cottage that can accommodate groups up to 15.  edit
  • Mendip Caving Group, (), [7]. Charterhouse based group with a cottage that can accommodate 30, hold keys to a variety of caves.  edit
  • Shepton Mallet Caving Club, The Mineries, Wells Road, Priddy,, [8]. Cottage with bunk bed accommodation for 25, some camping accommodation  edit
  • Axbridge Caving Group, 01761 452 288, [9]. Training, advice, equipment, books and videos available, regular organised expeditions. Meet in the Hunters Lodge, 2nd Sunday of month  edit
  • Charterhouse Centre, Charterhouse-on-Mendip, Blagdon, Bristol,, 01761 462 267 (), [10]. Offers climbing, abseiling, caving, mountain biking, accommodation and campsite  edit
  • Mendip Hills Outstanding Area of Natural Beauty, 01761 462 338, [11]. Downloadable walking guides  edit


  • Priddy Folk Festival, The Green, Priddy, 01749 674 080, [12]. 3 day folk music festival in July annually, with craft fair, club tent, camp site, dance events. £47.00 with camping, children under 10 free.  edit
  • Mendip Food and Drink Festival, 01749 341 327 (), [13]. A variety of special food and drink events held in and near the Mendips annually, late October-early November  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

Many of the pubs serve good food, there are cafes and restaurants in Cheddar and Wells.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Most villages have pubs amongst which are:

  • Hunters Lodge, Bristol Road, Priddy, 01749 672 275. Real ale, pub grub, traditional style, open fires. Popular with cavers.  edit
  • The Queen Victoria Inn, Pelting Drove, Priddy. Real ales, cider, pub grub, folk evenings.  edit
  • New Inn, The Green, Priddy. Real ales, pub grub, bed and breakfast accommodation  edit
  • Druids Arms, Bromley Road, Stanton Drew, 01275 332 230, [14]. Real ale, beer garden, food, handy for Stanton Drew stone circle and Chew Valley Lake  edit
  • The Crown, High Street, West Harptree, 01761 221 432. Good beer and cider and homecooked food. In the heart of Chew Valley at the foot of the Mendips  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

There are a number of guest houses, also some self catering accommodation, camping and caravan sites and a few independent hotels. Full lists available from Somerset County Tourist Information [24]

  • Self Catering Somerset[25]Spindle Cottage, Binegar Green (Spindle Cottage is 15 miles south of Bath, 18 miles south of Bristol and 5 miles north of Wells. 1/2 mile from the B3139 Wells / Bath road and 1 mile from the A 37 at Gurney Slade on the Bristol / Shepton Mallet road.), 01749 840497, [15]. Self catering Somerset holiday accommodation. Spindle cottage is a 17th century cottage high on the Mendip hills. Set in a garden complete with summerhouse, gazebo and a conservatory. Step inside the cottage and you find a world of make believe with carvings of mushrooms, spiders web, birds and mice in oak beams and stone work.
  • The Penscot Inn, The Square, Shipham, Nr Cheddar, 01934 842 659, [16]. Twelve en suite rooms, 3 star rated. Restaurant and bar. £76 double.  edit
  • Burcott Mill, Wookey, Wells, 01749 673 118, [17]. Bed and Breakfast adjacent to a working water-powered flour mill. from £30,00 adult sharing double.  edit
  • Home Farm Cottages, Barton, Winscombe, Nr Cheddar, 01934 842 078 (), [18]. Self-catering accommodation Set in 2 acres of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Barton, near Cheddar £240 to £775 seasonal rates per week.  edit
  • Broadway House Holiday Park, Cheddar (18 miles south of Bristol on the A371, midway between Cheddar and Axbridge.), 01934 742 610 (, fax: 01934 744 950), [19]. Touring caravans, camping, some lodges, swimming pool in summer, children's play area, convenience shop, restaurant and bar  edit
  • Anela B&B, Lower North Street, Cheddar, 01934 743 806. A friendly B&B located in the very centre of Cheddar village - convenient for all facilities and just a short, level walk from the Gorge.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

Outdoor activities such as climbing, caving and abseiling should only be undertaken with suitably qualified groups. The hills contain many old mine workings and even undiscovered pot-holes, so walkers should be well equipped and use good maps.

Get out[edit]

Other local attractions near the Mendips are:

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