The Mendip Hills is a place of such scenic quality that it was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1972 and contains numerous Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and Nature Reserves.
This designation recognises that the Mendip Hills is one of England’s finest landscapes, an area treasured by everyone with special protection and management.
The Mendip Hills throughout it’s history has been all things to its local people; a place to live and work, a place to worship or defend, a place to exploit through mines and quarries and a place to enjoy with its spectacular scenery, diverse flora and opportunities for numerous sporting activities.
Each use has left its mark on the land and over time these characteristic marks have formed what we see today.
A landscape of many layers with modern agriculture on medieval field systems, on top of Roman towns and 5,000 year old circles, beneath which lies a vast and intricate complex of caves, where early man sheltered.
Delicate Local Geology
Villages and cities as far away as Bristol benefit from the water that is captured in Blagdon and Chew Valley Lakes and at Axbridge Reservoir. The geology shapes the life and work of all, even today, in the Mendip Hills.
Essentially a huge, complicated, folded plateau of Limestone, Old Red Sandstone and Conglomerate, with Coal beneath its northern flank and with whaleback ridges that allows water to percolate through, dissolving the Carboniferous Limestone to create the beautiful and extensive Mendip cave network, before appearing in the form of springs many miles away.
Countless generations have used the caves with ‘Cheddar Man’ in Gough’s Cave at Cheddar and Aveline’s Hole in Burrington Combe having the earliest recorded cemetery in Britain and some of the earliest cave art in the UK.
Nowadays these same caves are popular with sporting cavers, cave divers and cave scientists and major new discoveries are being made all the time, revealing more of the complex and fragile world beneath our feet.