Cheddar Gorgeous!
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Cheddar Gorgeous!

Jack Mendel and friends head south-west to Somerset to sample natural beauty and the local cider

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Overlooking beautiful Cheddar Gorge
Overlooking beautiful Cheddar Gorge

Waking up to the sound of roosters at 5am might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s the perfect tonic to the hustle and bustle of London. And with the leaves starting to fall, grab a few days in rural Somerset while you can. Or think about it for spring.

My uni friends and I stayed in an Airbnb  converted barn  near Highbridge in north Somerset. Just 25 minutes from several beaches and natural sites, it gave the best of both worlds; being secluded but also close to local attractions, with five bedrooms and three bathrooms.

It was warm then – upwards of 25 degrees – and the highlight of our trip was our two-hour walk around the stunning Cheddar Gorge, which emerges from the rolling farms that cover the county. It’s likely this major tourist site is gorgeous most of the year as there are always people admiring its natural beauty.

While it is free to enter, as most of it is under the National Trust, there is a small charge to park, in addition to many of the activities, such as abseiling, rock climbing and touring caves.

The gorge!

The rocks tower over the roads and wind through the gorge, and visitors are warned that parking is at one’s own peril – as stones have been known to fall.

The steep climb on the ‘medium to hard’ excursion was a challenge and, after 10 minutes, there was some regret about having not worn hiking shoes. After an incline that lasted for about half an hour, we reached a vantage point for a spot of lunch, where we gazed over the gorge.

Hiking may not be for everyone, so luckily for us, we were just a short drive to Brean Beach, which is not far from the touristy Weston-super-Mare.

It’s not a tropical beach, with hard sand and a high tide – to the point where it was a good five to 10-minute walk to get to the sea – but it was still popular with visitors.

Our cottage was fitted with a fantastic kitchen and barbecue, but we also ventured into the local town for a bite to eat.

The front door to our beautiful barn cottage

We visited The Packhorse Inn, which used to be a stable, but it’s now a restaurant. Staff were chatty and accommodating, telling us about mythical tunnels underneath the building dating back hundreds of years, which were used to escape during the civil war.

They didn’t have anything kosher, funnily enough, but the kitchen said they’d cook up some vegetarian food just for us, which was
delicious and made us feel very welcome.

Traffic permitting, it’s a four-hour drive for anyone who struggles to get further than St John’s Wood, but there are plenty of places to stop off on the way depending on the route, including Stonehenge, Bristol and Bath.

You can also take the train from Paddington and just enjoy the view!

Enjoying dinner at the Packhorse Inn
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