Our Work

The Work of the Mendip Hills AONB Unit

News from Last Month

Management Plan
The formal consultation period for the draft Mendip Hills AONB Management Plan 2019 – 2024 has now come to an end. This is now ready for adoption by the relevant local authorities; Somerset County Council, Mendip District Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Bath & North East Somerset Council and North Somerset Council.

Focus Groups
Two focus groups have been convened by the AONB Unit; Access and Land Management. The groups include specialists from different organisations who will be meeting regularly to help guide the delivery of the AONB Management Plan.

Volunteer Rangers
Twenty members of the community regularly give up their time as Mendip Volunteer Rangers. The AONB Unit has now started a programme to invest in the skills of these volunteers to help the community and visitors to the area. Each Volunteer Ranger now has the opportunity to achieve 4 core competencies each year; Outdoor First Aid, Dealing with Emergency Situations, Navigation and Leading a Guided Walk. Half the group successfully completed their Outdoor First Aid on 24-25 January.

What’s coming up?

The AONB Unit’s Planning Officer is attending the West of England Green Infrastructure stakeholder workshop in Bath, 29/1/19. This workshop will look at the Green infrastructure opportunities linked to the Strategic Development Locations.

Practical Task Volunteers
AONB volunteers will be helping restore drystone walls on a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a separate Scheduled Monument. Enhancing access on a very popular bridleway by coppicing woodland and on a different site installing gates to replace stiles on a Somerset Wildlife Trust reserve.

Mendip Way Project

The Mendip Way is a 50 mile long-distance footpath crossing the Mendip Hills from Uphill to Frome that is sometimes referred to in two sections:

The West Mendip Way that is largely in the Mendip Hills AONB starts near the Bristol Channel at Uphill and climbs the Mendip Hills escarpment onto the Mendip plateau and across the top of Cheddar Gorge and down to Wells.

The East Mendip Way continues from Wells to Frome passing to the north of Shepton Mallet and close to some of the limestone quarries.

Mendip Way Map

The AONB Unit is working with partnership with the Mendip Society, Rotary Club and Mendip Ramblers to enhance the Mendip Way through route improvements, improved information, signage and promotion.

Completed Works:

  • The whole route has been waymarked with new signs.
  • A comprehensive route survey has been carried out identify additional signage and access furniture requirements.
  • Full route guide with description and directions in 2 versions eastwards and westwards) have been written.
  • GPX data has been gathered for use in downlaodable route guides.

Next steps:

  • New Mendip Way pages on the AONB website including downloadable route guides and further information for visitors.
  • Marketing of the route.
  • Carry out further route improvements through volunteer task programmes.

Supporting local tourism businesses – raising the profile of the Mendip Way and enhancing the experience for walkers on the route will attract more visitors to the area and encourage longer length of stay. The project will aim to improve the tourism offer and support rural economic growth. Ideas to be explored with businesses include:

• Using the website to link the route to attractions, accommodation and local food providers.
• Networking accommodation providers to offer luggage transfer and other visitor services
• Offering bespoke Mendip Way holidays offering guided walks and other activities.
• Promoting family friendly accommodation and activities for family members not walking the full route

Mendip Rocks! 2018

The eighth Mendip Rocks! festival started on 7 July and ran until the end of October.  Our annual season of events celebrates the 450 million year geological history of the Mendip Hills and is provided by the AONB Unit, Somerset Earth Science Centre and The Mendip Society.

This seasons 30+ events included: cave visits, guided walks, tours of working and disused quarries, arts workshops, geological field visits and much more.  A total of 1200 people attended across the festival with something for all the family to get involved in.

Discovering Black Down

This was a three year project (2013-2016) funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project was designed to raise awareness of the wildlife and archaeological value of the Black Down and Burrington Commons through activities, events and training.

In recent years erosion and damage to specific features and the site in general has occurred through a combination of recreational use, sensitive site conditions and weather.
The legacy of Discovering Black Down will be to ensure local community and user group volunteers continue to play an active role in the care and conservation of this area’s heritage.

The project has now come to a close but the web site Discovering Black Down will remain available.

Download the Discovering Black Down app for maps, memories and lots more