Cheddar Gorge beauty spot could go traffic-free for one day a month

A trial scheme could see the B3135 Cliff Road close for one day a month, banning vehicles but maintaining access for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders. Credit: PA

The main road running through Cheddar Gorge could close to traffic for one day a month.

Hikers, climbers and cyclists have long visited the Somerset beauty spot, which is about 50 minutes from Bristol, to admire the limestone cliffs.

A potential new scheme would temporarily close the B3135 Cliff Road on one day a month, banning motor vehicles but keeping it open to cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders.

The National Landscape Team has used Defra funding to explore the idea of making the road safer to use for a variety of users.

A six-week public consultation, on behalf of the Mendip Hills National Landscape team, found that Sunday was most people's preferred day for closing the road to motor vehicles.

Glorious Easter weekend weather at the top of Cheddar Gorge Credit: Dwayne Alexander

The new report explains: "The team is bringing forward proposals to temporarily close Cheddar Gorge to vehicular traffic, initially once a month, through an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO).

"They believe this would allow walkers, cyclists and other non-vehicular visitors the chance to enjoy the Gorge more safely and enhance their visitor experience.

"When the order is in place, Cliff Road (B3135) would close to vehicles from above the formal car parks to the Black Rock car park."

There have been complaints about antisocial driving ruining the experience of visiting the Gorge, with police resorting to closing it on a couple of occasions as a result.

The National Landscape Team received more than 1,700 responses to the consultation, with more than 80% agreeing that the Gorge could be more accessible for pedestrians, cyclists, and other non-vehicular visitors.

Jim Hardcastle, manager of the Mendip Hills National Landscape Team, said: “We have received many comments expressing support from those who would be more likely to visit the Gorge on traffic free days to enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of the area.

"There were some respondents who raised valuable and interesting points which we will carefully consider.

"These include the speed at which cyclists may come down the gorge, the impact on local businesses, the provision of parking and space for vehicles to turn around, and concerns about the length of the diversion route and impact on other roads nearby.

"We are confident that we can take these concerns into account when deciding on the next steps in the process.

“We are excited to take this project into the next phase, and look forward to improving this picturesque location by opening it up to a wider range of visitors.

"Over the next few months we will be working with partners and the highway authority to decide on the best options. Look out for updates from us later in the year.”