Our Work

The Work of the Mendip Hills AONB Unit

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!

Mendip Rocks! ROCKtober Festival went with a bang!

“ROCKtober”, the seventh Mendip Rocks! Festival has been enjoyed this year by over 1,000 people.  The month long celebration of the geology of the Mendip Hills reached out to the wider community with events for all ages.

We’d like to thank our project partners the Mendip Society,   Somerset Earth Science Centre and John Wainwright & Co Ltd for their input and financial support that made this year’s festival a success.

Highlights of ROCKtober included:

Exclusive tours of Banwell Bone Caves to see the fascinating Georgian gem of caves and follies in pleasure gardens.

Crafty workshops making knitted ammonite fossils and needlefelt nautiloids.  Some amazing creations were made on the day, and have been exhibited at the finale event in Wells Museum for all to see.

Tours of working East Mendip quarries, with over 50 people attending to see the vast operations of Whatley, Torr Works and Halecombe limestone quarries.
A unique visit into Tarmac’s Halecombe quarry to see the near vertical bedding planes of the rock faces, and learn about the expansion plans for the quarry.

New for this year there was exploration visits into disused quarries at Fairy Caves and Cooks Wood (not usually open to the public) – to compare how these two quarries have been given an afterlife, one as a caving and climbing centre and the other destined to become a holiday retreat.

Fairy Cave Quarry was also the venue for art workshops using the materials found on site and sketches made in charcoal of the dramatic quarry faces and beautiful autumn colours of the colonised trees.

Half term fun included an open day at Somerset Earth Science Centre with pebble painting, fossil making and a geological time trail in the woods. Children were able to climb on board one of the huge vehicles used in the operation of a working basalt quarry at Moons Hill and over 80 people got to see inside the extinct volcano on a quarry tour of the oldest rocks in Somerset.

A week of more in-depth talks and walks as part of the Geological Association’sEarth Science Week celebrating the 50th anniversary of plate techtonics theory.

The team celebrated the festival finale with a day of geo lectures and lunch at Wells Museum, where guest speakers included David Rowley “Mendip Earthquakes” from Wells Cathedral School, Dr Martin Whiteley “Geological time in East Mendips – fossil evidence”, Nigel Taylor “Exporation of Wookey Holes deepest passages” and Prof. Danielle Schreve “Ice Age Beasts and where to find them”.  Professor Schreve enlightened the audience with her new evidence of mammal evolution found whilst digging in Gully Cave, Ebbor Gorge this year.


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