Black Rock and Long Wood
Habitat: Broadleaved woodland, limestone grassland and outcrops, hawthorn scrub
Car park/access point ST482546, BS27 3QE
Above the spectacular cliffs and caves of Cheddar Gorge, and hidden away behind the gentler slopes further up the gorge is a picturesque little side valley where you can take a relaxed walk through typical upland woodland to the prominent outcrop of Black Rock. Beyond that is Long Wood, a Somerset Wildlife Trust reserve which is mainly ash and hazel with some beech trees and conifers. Spring and summer are best.
All of the expected resident woodland species are here, including woodpeckers, Jays, Marsh Tits, Nuthatches, Treecreepers and Redpolls. In spring and summer Redstarts may also be found in the area as well as commoner warblers such as Blackcap, Whitethroat and Willow Warbler. Overhead Buzzards, Kestrels and Ravens are regular, and there is a good chance of Peregrine too – the local Jackdaws may alert you to their presence. About 300 yards past Black Rock go through a gate into Long Wood, where there are a variety of paths through the wood to choose from. In June 2010 a male Brambling very unexpectedly took up territory here for nearly three weeks.
If you fancy a longer walk, before you reach Long Wood a footpath up to the right takes you up towards the old lead workings of Velvet Bottom, another SWT reserve. This will increase your chances of Redstart and Tree Pipit and potentially add open-country species such as Wheatear, Skylark and Meadow Pipit. Like the rest of the area, it is also interesting botanically.
From the A371 in Cheddar, take the B3135 up through Cheddar Gorge until the road starts to flatten out near the top after a long right-hand bend. Look for a gate and track on the left: roadside parking either side of the gate and opposite – enough for about 10 cars.
The track past Black Rock is wide, flat and only mildly uneven, so is possibly suitable for those with mobility issues (including wheelchair users), but the paths in Long Wood and to Velvet Bottom are not.
No facilities on site, but cafes, shops, tourist attractions and toilets in Cheddar village.
About the Site