Canon at Cheddar

A Way Marker

A couple of weeks back, I had a week long vacation in Somerset, and stayed in the small village of Draycott, close to Cheddar. Most famous world wide for the cheese of course, but maybe second for the Gorge. I believe it to be the largest in Britain. I’ve been before, but staying so close meant I had to re-visit. This time I approached it a little different. There is a walk around the top of the Gorge, and this gives tremendous views down into the depths, but not much idea of scale and height as one gets from being in it. So my plan this time was to walk half the walk, the opposite way I did from the previous time, then back to the car up through the gorge.

This did mean a hard climb right from the start, but the reward is that is was a gentle drop all the way back down again! Unlike my last time, which was a long slog uphill, then a quick drop at the end! Once the initial climb was done, the first signpost showed a walk back the the village I was staying in! I just carried on, keeping the gorge to my right side.

A long drop off to the left

To start, the walk is under trees, these start to thin out, and views of the gorge, open up. I’d opted to take two cameras with me. One was the Canon Sureshot Supreme, the other was my Rolleicord Va. All the photo’s in this post are from the sureshot. I’d intended to use it for closer work and the “chord” for wider views. That didn’t exactly happen, as you can see.

Down into Cheddar Gorge

I stepped out close to the edge, I’m not good with heights, in this case the edge you see in the foreground is a shear drop down to the level of the road below. The edge was about 2 foot away from my toes! I had to wait for a car to drive up through to give scale. Strangely, I’m reasonably OK on natural heights, if this was a building you wouldn’t have got me to within 10 feet of the edge, if that. I realise that is counter intuitive, and that a building would be much safer, but my brain does not compute that!

Life on the Edge

I wasn’t the only one on the edge. There are goats here who seem to tempt fate with almost every footstep. This one looks rather like he’s been badly photoshopped on, but he isn’t.

The Village of Cheddar

As the walk progresses, the height drops all the time. Eventually I neared the end and Jacobs Ladder. Built by one Rowland Pavey. Pavey it seems had the opposite reaction to heights that I do. Apparently he held many beliefs, one being that everyone has wings, but only he could see them. To prove this he jumped off Beacon Rock, one of the cliffs here, amazingly he only suffered minor injuries, although apparently these didn’t dent his beliefs! Sitting atop Beacon Point is a tower.


A little further on the path brings the walker to this point and White/Mystic or Beacon Tower, choose your title! I remember visiting here as a child, I didn’t like heights then either. I did get to the top and made a couple of photo’s of the views. I can’t say I liked it up there, so didn’t linger!!

Cheddar Village and reservoir beyond
The opposite direction, into the mouth of the gorge
The way back down!

Adjacent to the tower is Jacobs Ladder itself, 274 steps built by Pavey, having been inspired by Genesis Chapter 28. Rather than the climb up, it was my way down to street level.

Jacobs Ladder
The Entrance (or end!)

Once at street level, one “lands” at the upper edge of the village, the touristy bit. Being me of course I ignored all that and found quite different things to photograph!

Sluice Gate

There is a large water retaining pond with a sluice gate to control the flow. The water looked very clean and clear but a lot of gloopy weed floating atop! Below a small river with ferns leads into the pond.

Fern and water

Finally the bit all walks of this type need – a coffee shop. Nestled under the cliff, right at the entrance to Gough’s Cave, a Costa! As I sat there gazing up at the cliff a photographic thought popped into my mind… and I popped off the last exposure of the roll. This film is a bulk loaded length of FP4 movie film, I tell the story of it here. I had re-used an old XP2 cassette. XP2 is rated at 400asa, it is DX coded as such. The Canon Sureshot Supreme will have exposed as if I were using a 400 speed film. However I had stuck a paper label on the film to remind me what stock it was. So would it have, or would it have not been able to read the DX code and reverted to 100? I decided to make a note, and after a little thought decided to process it as 400. In fact it was in the tank with a Delta 400. Ilfosol 1+9, at 20° for 7 1/2 mins. So these images, as it turns out are, 23 years old FP4 movie film, pushed to 400asa. Considering, I pleased with the results….

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