Cheddar Gorge

The main road through Cheddar Gorge is set to close for five weeks so that work can proceed to make the rockfaces safe.

The Cliffs is to close from September 20th to allow the work to safely proceed.

The project, which will be carried out by a specialist contractor, has been organised by Cheddar Gorge and Caves, which owns the cliff face on the southern side of the gorge.

The cliff face is checked regularly to assess the stability of the rocks for safety reasons.

While the road through the upper part of the gorge is closed, diversions for motorists will be in place.

The caves will open as normal during the work.

A spokesman for Cheddar Gorge and Caves said: “We regularly assess the rocks on the southern side of the gorge as the landowners to check they are stable.”

“Recent assessments have shown that there are some weaknesses in the rockface due to the hot weather in the summer. The work needs to be done ahead of the winter.”

He adds: “The urgency of this work has been brought about following a recent inspection of the rock face, which identified areas where the risk of rock fall is high and imminent, which subsequently requires our immediate action. The long dry summer has exasperated existing weaknesses in the rock, which has increased the risk of uncontrolled and dangerous rockfalls associated with autumn and winter storm conditions.”

“The need for urgency is enhanced by ecological constraints, which require that the rock work is completed before the end of October, when bats potentially occupy their winter roosts in the cliffs.”

“The road will be closed everyday during this time period, and on a 24-hour basis. The road will be closed to all traffic, cyclists and pedestrians, to allow the specialist rope access abseil workers, already experienced in such projects in the gorge, to complete the work. It will involve scaling of loose rock fragments using hand tools, which will then be dropped to the base of the slope under controlled conditions.”

”We will take all steps possible to protect the integrity of the gorge road. During this time, we will also endeavour to carry out work to remove trees affected by Ash Die Back, and perform flood prevention work by clearing soakaways of accumulated debris.”

“Cheddar Gorge & Caves understands that this road closure will cause significant disruption and inconvenience to those people who live and run businesses in and around the gorge.”

”We have considered all alternative options that would allow us to complete the work while keeping the road open, but due to the location, scale and potential for serious harm in the case of rock falls, there is no other viable option other than to carry out the work with the road fully closed. The safety of all gorge users is our top priority.”

“The official diversion route follow the A371 (Draycott Road and Wells Road), lead onto the A39 in Wells, and then turn left onto the B3135 at Green Ore.”

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