Cheddar Gorge (South Side)


User attention

Sunset Butress: the ash tree at the top of Space Tourist has ash dieback and is in poor condition. The strop for abseiling from has been removed and the tree  marked with a cross. Do not abseil from it. All other ash trees along the butress rim also have the disease and shoud not be abseiled from. There is one galvanised stake in place near the tree, however its provenance is unknown, but probably placed for rope access work. It will not have been tested for many years and in addition it may be difficult to pull the ropes down from it. Until new abseil anchors can be set up, walking off and back down is advised.


from 12/05/2021

Crag information
Climbing Area: South West & Southern Rock Type: Limestone
Importance: National CRoW Land: No
Ownership: Private No. of Routes: 550
Within National Park: No Year Developed: 1925
Grid Reference: ST469541

The south side of the gorge is privately owned by Cheddar Caves & Gorge and forms part of the Longleat Estate. It is not Open Access land under the CRoW Act (2000), unlike the National Trust owned land on the north side of the Gorge. Cheddar is unique in the fact that many of the crags are directly above a busy road which forms part of a major tourist attraction in the area. Unlike many crags, where a dropped piece of gear or rock is unlikely to have any impact on a member of the public, in Cheddar it has far greater potential to injure a visitor or damage a car. 

Because of this, for climbing on the south side the year is split into three seasons according to the number of visitors to the gorge.  During the busiest periods, all crags on the south side are closed, during the moderately busy periods only the restored routes (which have been cleared of loose rock as far as possible) on the south side are open, and during quiet periods all routes are open. These seasons are based on school and public holidays so change slightly every year.

Anyone climbing on the south side of Cheddar Gorge must carry civil liability cover of at least £10 million. This comes as standard with BMC or MCofS membership or can be organised separately. BMC/MCofS membership cards or details of your individual policy must be carried as proof of cover whilst climbing on the south side of the Gorge and the climbing warden and CC&G staff carry out frequent checks. Civil liability is also recommended for anyone climbing on the north side of the Gorge, but is not a requirement.

The BMC Cheddar Gorge Access Map has full details of which areas can be accessed during which periods. This should be considered required reading for any climber visiting the Gorge, regardless of which side or area you plan to climb on. A trial started in 2019 allows additional access to some areas so check the map before you visit as new year round access is available on three crags, but climbers need to demonstrate an ability to follow the agreed restrictions to make this a permanent lifting of restrictions.

The latest guide to the Gorge - 'Cheddar Gorge Climbs' (M. Crocker, 2015) – has a definitive list of restored routes on the south side as well as routes on the north side. It is available from The Gorge Outdoors shop in Cheddar village, as well as other climbing and outdoor shops in the area.

The latest guide to the Gorge - 'Cheddar Gorge Climbs' (M. Crocker, 2015) – has a definitive list of restored routes on the south side as well as routes on the north side. It is available from The Gorge Outdoors shop in Cheddar village, as well as other climbing and outdoor shops in the area.

It has been reported that there is some confusion or misunderstanding of the use of the terms "restored" and "unrestored" routes in relation to access.  Restored routes are trad routes that were cleaned and equiped with lower off bolts, and sport routes that were  bolted or rebolted and equipped.  This work was carried out as part of the Cheddar Gorge Climbing project between 2003 - 2005.  All these routes are described in the current guide book  - Cheddar Gorge Climbs by Martin Crocker.  The access agreement  only includes routes found in this guide.  Some restored routes in the guide remain as winter only routes. This includes most of the multi pitch routes in the gorge. Full details are in the guide.  The climbs on the South side listed in previous guide books and not found in the current  book, including the previous CC guides are winter access only - 1st October -- 15th March.

Annual loose rock removal carried out by the landowners has nothing to do with access changes for climbers and has no bearing on on the climbing access agreements.  It is carried out entirely in the interest of safety for visitors to the gorge.


Restrictions apply from 16 March - 30 September.

Reason: Public Safety

Due to the proximity of Cheddar's cliffs to the road and tourists below, there are complex access restrictions which vary depending on the time of year and section of cliff on the south side of the Gorge. These restrictions are fully detailed in the BMC's Cheddar Gorge Access Map.

Please ensure you follow the access agreements detailed on the map to ensure that future access is able to continue. It is imperative that climbers self police otherwise access permission may be withdrawn by the landowner Cheddar Caves & Gorge.

Parking and Approach

Please only park in the long stay (paid) visitor car parks whilst at the crag. Parking in private staff car parks or any short stay shop car parks in the village will lead to bad relations with landowners and locals.

Group Advice

Cheddar Caves & Gorge do not allow commercial activity (i.e paid for instruction) on their land in the Gorge. Non-commercial groups for whom no money is changing hands are free to access the crags however, providing they follow the access advice above.

Area information

Once upon a time, climbing in this spectacular gorge was limited to the winter months, in part due to crags overhanging the road, loose rock, aging fixed protection and the overgrown nature of certain crags. These factors represented an unacceptable safety threat to the huge number of visitors enjoying the gorge during the summer. To address this, The Cheddar Gorge Climbing Project was conceived by M. Crocker in 2005 (part-funded by The BMC and The Climbers’ Club). A massive volunteer effort over the following 4 years resulted in many of the buttresses and routes being restored to a climbable condition. In addition, at the time The Longleat Estate also invested £1 million on rock-catch fencing, removing huge amounts of loose rock and destabilising trees, and this work continues year on year. The project has proven to be a great success and the Cheddar climbing scene is now a vibrant centre for locals and visiting climbers alike.

Weather Information

There are no guidebooks assigned to this crag

Cheddar Access Map 2024

Updated: 07/05/2024


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Been down cheddar today (28/08/18), all the routes on Horseshoe bend have had the first hangers removed (bolts are still there, and appear intact - but didn’t really investigate and I’m no expert). Climber over at arch rock and they were fine. Not sure if any others are missing.