The stunning landscapes of the Mendip Hills have long been admired by visitors from around the globe, but John Bailey takes us on a journey beyond the spectacular but highly visitored Cheddar Gorge, through the lesser known terrain, revealing the true extent of the beauty of the area. It features 8 walks of varying degrees. A Year in the Life the Mendip Hills portrays a year in the life of the Mendip Hills, an upland region of unspoilt villages, quiet country lanes, valleys and spectacular gorges.
The journey begins on the western fringes where the hills rise abruptly from the Somerset Levels, soon to reach the highest point at Beacon Batch, Black Down, 1068 feet above sea level. The summit of the limestone ridge affords spectacular views north-west over the Severn Estuary to Wales and west across the Somerset Levels to Exmoor. The limestone plateau with its escarpments continues eastward where the limestone grasslands and exposed rocks steadily give way to the more gentle landscape of the winding lanes and wooded valleys of eastern Mendip. Impressive church towers are a dominant feature of Mendip's villages, some dating back to the prosperous 15th century. Past industrial activity has played a large part in the character of the landscape dating back to the Bronze Age, Iron Age and the Romans, all leaving their marks on the countryside. Ask any visitor about the Mendips and they will talk of Cheddar Gorge and Burrington Combe as these natural features are such a spectacular sight to behold. But Mendip has a far greater diversity of beauty and ruggedness beyond these two giants.