Shipham to Cheddar Gorge Loop

Route Details


13.5 Miles approx


footpaths, steep hills, fields - can be quite muddy.

Todays adventure started in the car park of the Swan Inn on Rowberrow Lane near Shipham. It was an overcast start to the day but mild. We got our gear on and set off in the direction of Hill lane that lead us to the first off road footpath. We walked under the canopy of the trees into a sort of wooded valley. Beside us was a stream that refreshed us with the sound of cascading water as we ventured deeper into Rowberrow Warren. The scenery was amazing it has to be said and it was quiet apart from the odd gust of wind or tweet of a bird. We missed a turning somewhere along the path and we were heading towards Tynings Farm. This was supposed to be for the journey back. Once I realised we turned back and found the right path which took is up the Warren and across some streams that flowed right across our path. The higher we got the better the views got.

We left the cover of the trees and took the route along Black Down which was a peaty type of terrain, very dark and swampy with tufts of stiff grasses. These mounds acted as stepping stones allowing us to cross very waterlogged areas. Ahead were some tall masts that we had to stay in line with. Going by the map, we needed to take the fourth path that crossed ours but after counting four we still took the wrong one. See what I mean about the lost ramblers, its not for trying it just happens. On this occasion we were glad of the little detour as we found a strange mound of earth that had holes in it. They were like small peep holes or windows. At the entrance to the mound was a brick wall or blast shield. Whatever this thing was it certainly had something to do with the war, that much was clear - but what the hell was it? We passed down the field of long grass and we noticed another one but this time it was not caged and we could get inside. apart from the smell of damp it was just a room with concrete plinths in the centre of it. We were still none the wiser as to their intended use. Carrying down the field we saw lots of small mounds of rocks; like small cairns randomly placed. This was something else added to our homework list.

After doing some research once the walk was done we found out that the bunker style mounds were actually generator houses. During world war II when the bomber raids flew in from Germany they often did it at night. The crews were lazy and instead of referring to their maps they dropped their payloads on the same areas as the previous raids. A make shift town was created outside some major cities including Bristol. Bales of hay were set alight as were barrels of oil to make it look like a dropping zone. It was a huge deterrent that was very successful - find out more here The small stacks of rocks were placed around the neighbouring fields to stop aircraft from landing - a very interesting find, we were surprised that there wasn't a plaque explaining about this significant spot in our history.

Stunning landscapes

There was a large factory to our left that expelled plumes of white smoke, possibly steam into the sky, it almost looked like a cloud maker against the rich blue sky. We walked towards a barbed wire fence and found a safe way of straggling it. We then headed down through another field of lush green grass to a road. We turned left and walked until we saw our footpath sign through some woods. There was a series of small bridges over the same stream that winded through the trees. Our route took us upward and out on to open ground. We walked parallel to some woods - Swallow Hole and Rhino Rift was marked upon the map. A group of walkers were on our tail as we wondered down into a different type of wilderness. The Gorge was close, we could tell by the cliffs that surrounded us. Going by the map this area was once a quarry.

It was a really interesting place to walk through. In the photo above you can see Nigel and Mark admiring the landscape. In its heyday it was probably a hive of industry men hacking away at the cliffside and tramways running beneath our feet.

We headed on round the valley keeping our eyes open for anything strange or structure-like that we could explore and soak up more of this landscapes history. We did notice a large building that had bars across an opening in its base. It had a geared mechanism on its roof that may have held a crane of sorts.

Finally we came to the road that meandered through the Gorge should we have followed it left. however our route took us across it and up through Black Rock gate. Unfortunately for us this meant walking up a near vertical mountain. Ok I may have exaggerated a little, it was steep and it was long that part was true. I set myself a little challenge and that was to not stop, I made it to a section that levelled out. We stopped and had a drink. Once we got our breath and wet our whistles we marched on to the official entrance to the Gorge.

We walked across the top of the Gorge which presented us with some fantastic views in every direction. What we were surprised to see were goats. Cute little goats running around the place on both sides of the Gorge.

Gorge Goats

Taking a peak over the edge was enough to make your legs turn to jelly. It does not look that far down in the picture but trust me it was! Whilst walking along the top we saw a bloke dressed in black sat at the edge of one of the sheer faces. He got up once he saw us and headed in a direction that would intercept our path. It turned out that he was short of cigarettes and hoped that we could replenish his stocks. Why he thought walkers who tended to take care of their health would smoke after walking up that great hill beats me. We tried to put some distance between us and him as he came across a little wired hanging around up there.

We stumbled upon the popular Jacobs ladder and instead of heading down the hundreds of steps we cut through some trees following an overgrown path. This lead us out on to a narrow lane behind some houses. The lane brought us out at the bottom the main drag, I knew our path was on the opposite side of the road but it was difficult to find. After yet another oversight we were guided by one of the cave staff to our turning. The mid day heat was up and before us was another mountain of a hill to climb. It looked like a dried up stream or fast flowing river bed as it had large boulders and stones littered all the way up the hill. When we thought we could see the end.. it wasn't and the path carried on. It went on and on and on until we got to some very large steps which seemed harder to climb than the boulders because each step was about two feet high. Finally we reached the top and I think its fair to say that we were well and truly knackered.

We were on our route back, tired and weary. It was quite a flat route back along well established footpaths across farmland and through a nature reserve. Our feet were starting to hurt as we had walked longer than we had ever walked before, It did not help that we were walking on roads either. In the fields that we past there were old crumbling buildings and even a cave according to the map but I did not see it from the road.

We past Tynings farm and back into Rowberrow Warren. I think we all wanted to kick our boots off and dangle our sore feet in the stream - I know I did. We could all taste the pint we were so close to having. Although it was a great walk we were really tired and needed something other than fruit juice to quench our thirst.

We made it back to the car and removed our heavy boots from our tender feet. A tough walk but we were all glad that we had done it - Cheers!

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