Cheddar climbing access: approaching crisis point

Posted by Rob Dyer on 05/06/2014

As eight more groups of climbers are caught climbing in banned areas, Cheddar Gorge access is now approaching crisis point.

A few weeks ago, we reported that Cheddar Gorge climbing was at risk from thoughtless climbers breaking the agreed access arrangements. 

However, there have been further cases of climbers using crags outside of the agreed summer areas. Last weekend (31 May - 1 June) Cheddar Caves & Gorge (CC&G) staff had to approach eight groups who were climbing within the restricted areas. 

This is unfortunate and follows a great bank holiday weekend the week before, when all climbers in the Gorge were only using crags that were open within the access agreement.

Hopefully last weekend was a one-off situation. Irritation at CC&G is rising, understandably, due to the amount of staff time being used up dealing with the problem, and the potential risk to the public below.

If there isn’t a big improvement to the situation, there is now a serious risk that CC&G could withdraw the permissive access they allow climbers to the South Side crags for everything other than the winter season.

The BMC is working with CC&G to try to do everything we can to make climbers aware of the access restrictions. CC&G do not want signs up marking the restricted areas at this time as they don’t like excess signage within the gorge which would impact on the aesthetics of the place. We are exploring other options with them but, ultimately, it's up to all climbers to take responsibility and make sure we’re not climbing where we shouldn’t be.

If the climbing community isn’t seen to improve our collective behaviour, the current good access we enjoy to the South Side could be lost for good.

Climbing at Cheddar Gorge? Don't forget:

  • Make sure you have third-party liability insurance to a minimum of £10 million (a standard feature of BMC/MCofS membership)
  • Check the access calendar to make sure where you want to go is open for climbing
  • Only park in the long-stay visitor car parks
  • Be friendly to any CC&G staff you talk to
  • If you see climbers in an area out of season, let them know

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1) Anonymous User
05/06/2014
Are there signs in place indicating that climbing is not allowed? Or is the expectation that people will use the internet prior to climbing there. If the former there is no excuse. If the latter then could I suggest that signs are placed as not everyone uses the internet to search for new information on climbing areas.
2) Anonymous User
06/06/2014
They don't have a problem putting signs up to tell you to pay for parking so I'd say this is a poor excuse not to mark the areas because of "impact[ing] on the aesthetics of the place". Have they thought about closing the gorge to tourists so climbers can climb all year around? ;)
3) Anonymous User
07/06/2014
Not using the Internet is no excuse if you're not sure or you don't no don't climb! The dates are published in the cheddar gorge climbs guide and crag maps are easy to follow!!
4) Anonymous User
09/06/2014
Agreed. Don't want access restricted back to where we were before the present agreements. Then only the hardiest of souls climbed there in the cold winter months. Signs are not the answer just check the guide or ukc before going. There is no excuse for not being a responsible climber. Rtfm!
5) Anonymous User
09/06/2014
Could you define the long stay car parks a bit better? I've tended to park on the gravel sections higher in the Gorge, is that acceptable?
6) Anonymous User
09/06/2014
In terms of signage, no, there is not any. You should have a guide book which defines clearly all the access restrictions. Ignorance is not an excuse.
7) Anonymous User
22/06/2015
WOW!

Will Cheddar Gorge really DECLARE A STATE OF CRISIS if people keep climbing the wrong rock?

...or is this article slightly exaggerated?

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