Mendip Hills National Landscape

Rising from the Somerset Levels are the distinctive Mendip Hills, that with the lakes of Chew Valley and Blagdon, form the 198sq kms that is the Mendip Hills AONB. The magnificent Mendip Ridge stretches all the way from Brean Down in the west towards Frome in the east. The western half is designated as an AONB due to the astonishing array of landscape features; the gorges, caves, valleys, lakes, woodlands and grasslands.

Mendip Hills NL - Dry Stone Wallers

The Mendip Plateau is 325 metres above sea level at its highest point and there are many fantastic viewpoints along the warm southern slopes to explore, taking in the Somerset Levels all the way to the Quantock Hills AONB. The steep north slopes overlook the patchwork farmland of the Chew Valley and Yeo Valley, and their beautiful lakes, with views across the Severn Estuary to Wales. These impressive hills demonstrate geology ranging from Devonian to Jurassic and exposed rock outcrops are common. Across the top of the Mendip Plateau you will see dry stone walls criss-crossing the landscape, marking out the farmland and providing a home for wildlife, while making use of the surface rock in the area. The iconic Cheddar Gorge is situated along the edge of the AONB and is known as the highest inland vertical cliff in the country, but there are many other fascinating geological features to be discovered.

Mendip Hills NL - Cheddar Gorge Panorama

Cheddar Gorge Panorama

There are two National Nature Reserves and many Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Wildlife makes its home in many and varied features of this incredible landscape; adders love the dry stone walls, greater horseshoe bats hibernate in the caves and the Cheddar Pink flourishes on the cliffs above the village. Dormice love the hedgerows, and the flower-rich grasslands are home to butterflies, beetles and skylarks. The elusive water vole makes its home, or burrow, close to the beautiful lakes of the area. In fact, Chew Valley Lake has been designated a Special Protection Area for bird species due to its international importance.

Mendip Hills NL - Sheep Farmer

The features of the area have provided inspiration for people throughout history; Aveline’s Hole is the oldest cemetery site in Britain, ancient burial mounds are dotted across the landscape, and the abundance of lead around Charterhouse meant the site became a strategically important for the Romans, who set up mines in the area shortly after their arrival. These days the main activity is farming, both dairy and sheep farming. Many of the farms and surrounding areas also rely on tourism and many host their own festivals and events, with vibrant communities supporting them. The tough landscape, and the challenges it offers, inspires sporting events throughout the year. There are many hiking, cycling and running events, as well as more specialist activities like climbing, caving, horse riding and gliding. The lakes host activities too; sailing, fishing and bird watching to name a few.

Mendip Hills NL - Selecting the Perfect Stone