Looking for Planning FAQ’s? Click here.

1. What does AONB stand for and what does this designation mean?
For full details of what Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) designation means please go to our Caring page.

2. What is the meaning of “Mendip”, and is it Mendip or Mendips? – there is no definitive answer but – courtesy of Wikipedia, and further research below;
The earliest known form is Mendepe in 1185 – possibly medieval term “Myne-deepes”.
Or could be from Celtic monith, meaning mountain or hill.
Or perhaps Old English yppe in the sense of upland, or plateau.
Or Mened (Welshmynydd), a Brythonic term for upland moorland.
Or ‘the stone pit’ from the Celtic meyn and dyppa in reference to the collapsed cave systems of Cheddar.
Or Basque word ‘mendi’ meaning mountain.

2.1 Mendip or Mendips?
The earliest recorded mention of “Mendip “ is in a survey of the Knights Templar. This was a Catholic military order recognised in 1139 A.D. by papal bull[1]. A survey of their estates was undertaken in 1185 A.D. where the following passage occurs as part of their review of property in Somerset:

“Apud Menedepe. Ex dono Roberti filli, Martini una terre que reddit dimidiam

that is “In the neighbourhood of Mendip. By the gift of Robert son of Martin land which renders half a mark[2]”

A later reference of A.D.1234 in their records talks of “common pasture of Menedep for one thousand sheep” [1] (note the loss of the final “e”).

Various suggestions have been made in the past as to the earlier origins of Menedepe or Menedep. This might have come from the Celtic “monith”, meaning mountain or hill, or the Old English “yppe” meaning upland, or plateau. Either would explain why locally Mendip is known by many as “ the hill”.

Hunting in the Royal Mendip Forest had gone on since at least the time of King Edgar, son of Alfred the Great, which is why the name “Mendip Forest” still persists on early maps.

From the Middle Ages until recent times all published accounts talk of “Mendip” or “ the Mendip Hills”, for example, Billingsley (1797)[3] and Acklund and Sturge (1851)[4]. The contraction of this to “the Mendips” seems to have been first used by geologists notably Reynolds [5], [6] soon followed by Welch [7].

Of the standard Mendip textbooks past and present six use the term “Mendip”, (Compton (1893)[8], Gough (1930)[9] Balch (1941)[10] Atthill (1971)[11] Atthill et al (1976)[12]. Reid (1979)[13] while that by Coyshe et al (1954)[14], uses “Mendips”. Two books are inconsistent, being compilations from various authors, those published by the Bristol Natural History Society [15] and the Mendip Society [16].

1 – Faith J. The Knights Templar in Somerset. The History Press 2009
2 – Records of Templars in Engl. ed. B. A. Lees (Brit. Acad.), 206; Sandford Cartulary, ed. A. M. Leys
(Oxford. Record. Society.), no. 247.
3 – Billingsley, J .General view of the Agriculture of the County of Somersetshire. Cruttwell, Bath
1797. Pp79-88.
4 – Ackland, TD and Sturge W. The Farming of Somersetshire. John Murray, London, 1851. Pp 74
5 – Reynolds, SH.A Silurian inlier in the Eastern Mendips. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society
1907 63:217-240
6 – Reynolds, SH ,The Mendips Geography 1927:14: 79?? 187-192
7 – Welch FBA .The geological structure of the central Mendips. Quarterly Journal of the Geological
Society 1929; 85: 45-46
8 – Compton ,T, A Mendip Valley. Edward Stanford, London, 1893
9 – Gough, GW. The Mines of Mendip, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1930
10 – Balch HE. Mendip – its caves and swallets. (2 nd Ed) John Wright Bristol,1948
11 – Atthill, R. Old Mendip. (2 nd Ed) David and Charles, Newton Abbot, 1971
12 – Atthill, R. Mendip – a New Study. David and Charles, Newton Abbot, 1976
13 – Reid RD, Some buildings of Mendip. Redcliffe Press, Ltd, Bristol, 1979
14 – Coyshe, AW, Mason, EJ, Waite, V. The Mendips. Robert Hale, London, 1954

Thanks to Chris Stephens, for the research.

3. Why were the Mendip Hills designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty?
Please go to Special Qualities.

4. How is the AONB funded?
DEFRA funds up to 75% of core costs (salaries, accommodation etc) and our five partner local authorities pay a proportion of the rest.  The local authorities also contribute to the AONB budget for projects. Then we bid for other money to carry out more projects. More detail can be found in the Annual Review.

5. How much of the AONB falls in each local authority area?
Mendip District Council – 87.67 sq km and
Sedgemoor District Council – 34.03 sq km
Bath and North East Somerset Council – 36.95 sq km
North Somerset Council – 39.35 sq km
Total 198 sq km

Somerset County Council encompasses Mendip and Sedgemoor Councils.

6. What powers does the Mendip Hills AONB Partnership have?
None, it is an advisory committee. Individually the local authorities and government agencies such as Natural England and English Heritage have powers through planning and other legislation to protect the AONB landscape and aspects of designated features within it. Go to AONB Partnership pages and find out more.

7. Is my house within the AONB Boundary?
Have a look at this Magic Website

8. Where can I get information about projects funded by the AONB?
If you want to read about recent and current projects go to our Mendip Hills Fund page and Our Work page or contact us on 01761 462338 or via email Mendip Hills AONB.


9. What do adders look like?
Grey-brown body with zigzag markings down the back.

50 to 60 cms in length.

Found usually on heathlands, moorlands, and gruffly ground, usually from March to May.

10. What is the weather like?
The weather on the Mendip Hills is extremely changeable. We advise people to dress for all eventualities, especially in the Winter months. Before you visit the hills you may wish to check the weather on the BBC and have a look on Mendip Weather.

All rainfall records courtesy of the Environment Agency Information:

Jan – 35mm // Feb – 92mm // Mar – 108mm // Apr – 65mm //May – 37mm //Jun – 114mm//
Jul – 48mm // Aug – 157mm

Jan – 151mm // Feb – 30mm // Mar – 152mm // Apr – 77mm // May – 39mm // Jun – 11mm//
Jul – 35mm // Aug – 94mm // Sep – 69mm // Oct – 77mm // Nov – 127mm // Dec – 149mm

Jan – 98mm // Feb – 93mm // Mar – 104mm // Apr – 8mm // May – 92mm // Jun – 60mm //
Jul – 115mm // Aug – 76mm // Sep – 134mm // Oct – 66mm// Nov – 113mm// Dec – 168mm

Jan – 120mm // Feb – 106mm // Mar – 100mm // Apr – 55mm // May – 76mm // Jun – 98mm //
Jul – 30mm // Aug – 92mm // Sep – 83mm // Oct – 37mm // Nov – 142mm // Dec – 37mm

Jan – 143mm // Feb – 106mm //  Mar – 68mm // Apr – 21mm // May – 101mm // Jun – 30mm //
Jul – 139mm // Aug – 123mm // Sep – 80mm // Oct – 68mm // Nov – 154mm // Dec -108mm

Jan – 250mm // Feb – 184mm // Mar – 63mm // Apr – 87mm //  May – 120mm // Jun – 45mm //
Jul – 38mm // Aug – 144mm //  Sep – 20mm // Oct – 115mm //  Nov – 140mm //  Dec -98mm

Jan – 118mm // Feb – 36mm //  Mar – 75mm //  Apr – 43mm // May – 79mm //  Jun – 38mm //
Jul – 65mm // Aug – 69mm // Sep – 57mm //  Oct – 157mm //  Nov – 124mm // Dec -144mm

Jan – 86mm // Feb – 42mm // Mar – 40mm // Apr – 211mm //  May – 58mm // Jun – 209mm //
Jul – 173mm // Aug – 130mm // Sep – 119mm // Oct – 133mm // Nov – 181mm // Dec – 201mm

11. What walks are there in the area?
Go to our Walks page for full details and information.

12. Which OS maps cover the area?
OS Explorer Maps 141, 153 and 155

13. What is the geology of the AONB?
About 290 million years ago the area was strongly folded, faulted and uplifted. Devonian Old Red Sandstone emerges where the limestone has been eroded. Surrounding the Old Red Sandstone exposures are the Lower Limestone Shales succeeded by the main mass of Carboniferous Limestone. Go to Foundations of Mendip

14. Deer Collisions – What happens next?
Injured Deer should be reported as soon as possible to either the Landowner or to the Police (Dial 101 for Police)

What to do with injured wild animals – information from the RSPCA web site
If you find an injured wild animal, watch it first to see how badly hurt it is. Then contact us (the RSPCA) on 0300 1234 999, or take it to a nearby vet or wildlife rehabilitator. If possible, contain the animal before calling – see advice on RSPCA web site.

15. What should I do if I see someone fly-tipping?
If you notice someone who appears to be fly-tipping – the illegal dumping of rubbish and waste materials – do not approach them, but try and record the registration number of their vehicle and report this along with the details to the relevant local authority.

North Somerset Council
Telephone: 01934 888802 (Streets & Open Spaces Service)
Visit Website

Mendip District Council
Telephone: 0300 303 8588 (Customer Services)
Visit Website

Sedgemoor District Council
Telephone: 0845 408 2543 (Clean Surroundings, Waste & Recycling)
Visit Website

Bath & North East Somerset Council
Telephone: 01225 394041 / Text: 07797 806545 (Council Connect)
Email: councilconnect@bathnes.gov.uk
Visit Website

16. What do I do about a blocked path, a broken stile or cattle in my path?
Whilst walking, cycling or riding in the Mendip Hills AONB you may come across an issue on a Public Right of Way, such as a blocked path, broken stile, cattle grazing or prohibited access. If you come across an issue affecting a PROW or highway, make a note of the National Grid Reference and the specific problem and report it to the relevant local authority.

North Somerset Council
Telephone: 01934 888802 (Streets & Open Spaces Service)
Visit Website

Bath & North East Somerset Council
Telephone: 01225 477532 (Public Rights of Way Team)
Email: prow@bathnes.gov.uk
Visit Website – using A-Z index, click through to P, find the Public Rights of Way pages and use the ‘Problem Report’ form.

Somerset County Council (Report a problem with a public right of way)
Telephone: 0300 123 2224
Email: rightsofway@somerset.gov.uk
Visit Website

17. How do I contact a Dog Warden?
North Somerset – 01275 884882
Bath and North East Somerset – 01225 394041
Mendip District Council – 01749 648999
Sedgemoor District Council – 0845 408 2546.

(Traffic accidents involving a dog, contact the local police on 101)

18. Why do I need to clear up after my dog?
By clearing up after your dog, you can prevent the spread of some very nasty infections and diseases. Dog mess can contain one million microscopic Toxocara Eggs. Toxocaris is highly infectious, especially to children. Typical Toxocaris symptoms include dizziness and nausea, asthma and epileptic seizures. More seriously, it can lead to serious eye damage, even permanent blindness. Dog mess also harbours parasites that can harm farm animals especially cows and sheep. Guide for Dog Owners (PDF) Published by Somerset County Council and available by telephoning 0845 345 9155

19. What should I do if I see any tree defects?
Any tree defects on Somerset County Council land, within the AONB at Deer Leap, Blackmoor Reserve, and Netherwood only, can be reported by emailing South West Heritage Trust telephone 01823 278805

20. What should I do if I see any illegal activity occurring within the Mendip Hills AONB?
If you see any illegal off-road driving or any other type of illegal or suspect incident in the AONB please ring the Police 101 telephone number immediately.

21.  Ticks and Lyme Disease. 
A tick is a small blood sucking mite normally living off the blood of wild animals but occasionally attaching itself to humans. Most tick bites are harmless, but occasionally bacterium carried by some ticks can cause Lymes Disease, a serious illness. Click here for an information sheet on prevention and what to do if you have a tick bite.

22. What should I do if I want to organise an event in the Mendip Hills AONB?
In recent years an increasing number of large-scale events have been taking place in the AONB. To try and ensure that such  events do not have a negative impact on the environment and on other people’s enjoyment of the area the AONB Partnership has produced guidelines with the aim of ensuring that events within the AONB are appropriate, well planned, well located and well organised.

Mendip Hills AONB Code for event organisers (PDF Download 199KB)

Cheddar Parish Council have produced the following guidance – Cheddar Village and Gorge Events Guidance

Chalarafraxinea – Ash Die Back Disease

Forestry Commission Advisory Note July 2013 (PDF Download 800KB)
Forestry Commission Stakeholder Briefing (PDF Download 68KB)
National Trust Statement (PDF Download 12KB)
Somerset Wildlife Trust Statement (PDF Download 25KB)