8 Cheddar Gorge and Black Rock area

The best place to park for some of the Cheddar specialities is on the roadside at the entrance to the Black Rock Nature Reserve (ST482545).

Dianthus gratianopolitanus viewOn the east side of the road is the entrance to Black Rock, Velvet Bottom and Long Wood Nature Reserves. The track starts out through a wooded area where Toothwort grows at the base of the Hazels and Hard Shield-fem is found on the rocky areas beneath the trees. The track opens out and on the dry stone walling on your right hand side Limestone Fern can be found. The steep rocky well grazed grassland on your left is good for Harebells, Lesser Meadow-rue and Pale St John’s-wort. Long Wood Nature Reserve is at the end of the valley and here Meadow Saffron and Herb Paris can be seen. By one of the small bridges that cross over the stream Dusky Crane’s-bill grows.

From the parking place take the footpath on the west side of the road which climbs steeply through the woodland to the top of the gorge. Adder’s-tongue is on the pathside and amongst the trees Broad-leaved and Narrow-lipped Helleborines can be found. At the top of the cliff, bear right and this will eventually take you to the open areas of the cliff-top, with magnificant views down through the gorge and this is probably the best area for the Cheddar Pink – probably Somerset’s most famous plant.