Cheddar Reservoir is temporarily closing due to the heatwave from Sunday July 17th until Tuesday (July 19th).

Bristol Water has announced the decision as a safety measure to keep people safe.

A spokesman says: “With both the Level 3 heat-health watch alert and amber heat warning in place from Sunday, increasing to a red warning Monday to Tuesday, we’ve made the decision to temporarily suspend access to the car parks and permissive path around the reservoir from 10am Sunday 17 July until 10pm Tuesday 19 July. This action is in line with our routine water safety practice at Cheddar Reservoir for extreme heat scenarios.”

“With the extreme heat and very little shade around the reservoir’s permissive path, we want everyone to stay safe. We know the water can look very tempting on hot days, but there are many hidden dangers and we don’t want any extra pressure on the emergency services over what will already be a very busy few days for them.”

“There will be extra signage and barriers up at the reservoir, and the car park will be temporarily closed with security on site. We know this will be disappointing for anyone hoping to visit, but we really do appreciate all the support you’ve shown so far. Paddle boarding is available to members and guests of the local community group. The club is an evolution of Bristol Corinthian Yacht Club.”

“While still being a protected conservation site for wildlife, the specifics of Cheddar’s designated conservation status make it a much more suitable site for managed paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing than Chew Valley and Blagdon Lakes. Other reservoir sites will remain open, as there isn’t any easy access to the water at these sites, and there is more opportunity to find shade at these sites.”

“We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the community for the much improved levels of compliance with site rules that we’ve seen this year. This has helped us to keep the path open in all but the most extreme heat circumstances.”

Questions on the temporary closure:

Will the cark parks be open?

The two small car parks at Cheddar Sharpham Road and Axbridge entrance will both be closed.

Can I still access the cemetery?

You can still access the cemetery by walking across the playing fields, through the gate near the skate park and into the car park adjacent to the cemetery. The reservoir car park will be locked at the outer gate- however the Parish council have the combination code to access the cemetery for funerals, maintenance etc.

Can I still access the reservoir for Cheddar Watersports/ Angling Club?

Members of Cheddar Watersports and people booked on a watersports course, along with Cheddar Angling Club members, will be able to access the reservoir from the Axbridge entrance. Proof of membership or course attendance will be asked for.

What measures will be in place to affect the suspension of access?

Security on site as normal for this time of year. There will be extra signage and barriers up at the reservoir access points and the car parks will be temporarily closed.

Can you section off part of the reservoir for swimming?

Unfortunately, no, this isn’t an option currently. To be confident that everyone could stay safe would require a safety management system and we aren’t positioned to provide that. The local community club Cheddar Watersports operate on the reservoir through a carefully managed approach to stay safe. We remain open to sustainable proposals from the community for similar managed approaches.

Is closing the reservoir really necessary?

We have seen a really positive increase in visitors following the access rules this year, staying out of the water and being #WaterSafe. We’re very grateful to all those enjoying the site safely. However, we do still have concerning situations a relatively small number of people attending the site with the intention of swimming.

Our experience is that these numbers can quickly increase as the temperatures increase; potentially creating large-scale unauthorised gatherings and an unmanageable situation. Unauthorised swimming in the reservoir is not safe, and even more worrying when unsupervised young people and alcohol are involved. Extreme heat and the kind of unmanageable situations that could arise put exceptional strain on our officers and we need to protect them. In summary, we just want everyone to stay safe in the heat and not cause any extra strain on the emergency services.

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