Our Work

The Work of the Mendip Hills AONB Unit

News from Last Month

The Mendip Hills Fund is able to make grants to ten projects this festive season. Thanks to a record year of fundraising the scheme that helps environmental and community projects on the Mendip Hills has had more money than ever to give away.

In total the fund has given out nearly £11,000 this winter. The Mendip Hills Fund is a partnership between Somerset Community Foundation and Mendip Hills AONB Partnership providing a community fund to conserve and enhance the environment, communities and economy of the Mendip Hills.

Volunteer of the Year Award
The Mendip Hills AONB Partnership have announced their Volunteer of the Year for 2018. Richard Ellis, from Cheddar, is this years well-deserving recipient.

The award is made to the volunteer who the AONB Unit think has gone above and beyond a normal volunteering role. Richard was announced at the recent AONB Partnership meeting but the award was given to him at the next practical task session that he regularly attends.

Read the full story here.

What’s coming up?

Formal Consultation on the Mendip Hills AONB Draft Management Plan
The Draft Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Management Plan 2019-24 is now available for comment between 28th November 2018 and 16th January 2019.

As required by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (the CRoW Act) the local authorities have a statutory responsibility to review the AONB Management Plan every five years. The Plan sets out their approach for the management of the AONB and for the carrying out of their functions in relation to it.

The Mendip Hills AONB Partnership, consisting of the local authorities, Natural England, other organisations with a land management responsibility such as Somerset Wildlife Trusts, National Trust, together with parish councils and other interested groups such as Mendip Society lead on the Management Plan review for the local authorities.

During 2018 there has been different stages of consultation with the public and specialists on the previous plan to ensure the Draft Management Plan 2019-24 reflects the changed context and priorities since the last Plan was produced. The plan and supporting documents can be found here.

5 Year Delivery Plan
The Mendip Hills AONB Management Plan will be brought to life by a supporting Delivery Plan for the same period. Two Focus Group of specialists in the fields of land management and access are meeting in January to discuss how the objectives of the plan can be turned into projects. Projects from across the Partnership organisations are being sought to ensure the plan is representative of everyone’s work.

Volunteer Ranger Christmas Walks
The famous Mendip Volunteer Rangers are leading two walks this season; the Edge of Mendip and a Rowberrow Ramble, both are fully booked now. The walks always delivery something special for attendees and there’s always a little surprise for them along the way. The walks are free but a donation to the Mendip Hills Fund is suggested.

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