Cheddar Gorge, where Jacob's Ladder is located, attracts an impressive 500,000 visitors per year, which comes as no surprise as it has previously been named as Britain's second greatest natural wonder. Cheddar Gorge is the site of the Cheddar snow caves - this was where Britain's oldest complete human skeleton, known as Cheddar Man, was found. Found in 1903, Cheddar Man is estimated to be over 9,000 years old.
Cheddar Caves and Gorges has a whole heap of attractions that can be visited all year round. On the day I went, I chose to climb Jacob's Ladder up to the Lookout Tower, as I was keen to be rewarded with 360° views of the surrounding scenery. I was short on time, and could not stay as long as I would have liked, but I'd love to check out the caves the next time I'm in the area!
If you're unsure of which you'd like to go for, don't fret, because the staff at the Information Centre, located right opposite the car park, will be able to give you more information. Car parking is £5.00 per day, although if you park a bit further up, parking is free. Parking can be paid for at the information centre, where you will then receive a parking permit for you to place on your dashboard.
The beautiful mural next to the car park is also worth noting - the mural measures over 33 metres in length and took 8 weeks to complete. It was completed by students from Cheddar First School and Fairlands Middle School, in partnership with local artist Richard Blaker and art teacher Olivia Simpson.
The entrance to Jacob's Ladder can be accessed through the tickets and information centre. Entry for adults is £5.50, which I believe is quite a reasonable price. For those of you who don't know, Jacob's Ladder is a colloquial name for a connection between the earth and heaven. At 274 steps (plus an extra 48 up the lookout tower), this does not seem like a far stretch at all!
Take as many rests as you need on the way up - there are 4 stops in which you can have a break on a bench, as well as read up on the history of the area. There is no rush to get to the top - the view will still be there, no matter how long you take!
Once you complete the 274 steps, you're probably thinking that "this is it, right???" - well, you're close, but not quite, as there is an additional 48 steps to climb to the top of the lookout tower. The views, of the steep sided valley of Cheddar Gorge, the beautiful Mendip Hills, the flat lush water levels of the Somerset Levels, and hilltop plateau, is well worth the climb.
The steps up the lookout tower is quite narrow, and is not for the claustrophobic! Unfortunately the lookout tower is not wheelchair accessible because there is only one way up. However, dogs are more than welcome - wish I could've brought Eddy here!
Once you've had your fill of the view (if that is even possible), it is time to make your way down. Fortunately, the descent is heaps easier than the ascent - there are even tables for you to grab a bite to eat after a strenuous climb!
If you didn't bring food along, don't worry, because there are plenty of food options to choose from in the vicinity. We opted for a tea room called Simply Gorgeous, which perfectly sums up the quaint little eatery it was. Being in Cheddar Gorge, I of course had to opt for something cheesy...
Cheddar Gorge is a great place for families to spend the day, with plentiful attractions to choose from. Jacob's Ladder rewarded me with views you don't often see in Australia, which made it all the better for me. Hopefully I'll be able to come back and go cave exploring in Britain's biggest gorge!