Cheddar Complex Nature Reserve dog walk

Three Somerset nature reserves make up the Cheddar Complex: Black Rock, Long Wood and Velvet Bottom. The area is rich in history and famous for its caves and the spectacular Cheddar Gorge.

Our Cheddar Complex nature reserve dog walk begins at the south entrance that takes us to Black Rock.  There is roadside parking on Cliff Road, however it is limited.  Further parking can be found at the Velvet Bottom entrance in Charterhouse.   

Black Rock

We are following the Black Rock red trail (2.4km).  First we walk past the Limekiln which was built in 1929 when Black Rock was being quarried for limestone which makes up the Cheddar landscape and enabled the formation of the cave complexes running under the hills.  We then follow the dry stone wall and past the former quarry to reach a stone stile.

Black Rock Somerset National Trust Sign
National Trust Nature Reserve

Black Rock Mendip Hills
Black Rock

Dog under Black Rock.
Cleo standing next to a very large rock
Black Rock Cheddar Gorge
Cleo making her way over a stone stile

From here you can continue forward to Long Wood and Velvet Bottom, before coming back down and completing the rest of the Black Rock route. Alternatively, climb the stone stile now to complete the Black Rock route in isolation.

Climbing over the stile takes us uphill towards the top of Black Rock where there is plenty of wildlife including butterflies. We enjoy the views across the Cheddar Gorge. Peregrine falcons breed locally and can be spotted hunting over the reserve, along with kestrels and ravens.

Black Rock, Somerset.
Making our way higher

Dog walking the red route at Black Rock.
Black Rock route

Black Rock, Somerset.  Cheddar Gorge dog walking.
Black Rock views from above

We continue along the red route but you can take the shorter route here and head back down the hill.  The red route takes us straight on to the gate and then to the beautiful woodland and back down to the lower path of Black Rock.  

To visit Long Wood and Velvet Bottom from here you need to turn right and go back past the former quarry to reach the Long Wood gate.

Long Wood

Long Wood is an ancient woodland that is accessed from Black Rock.  We pass through the gate into the woods and the path forks.  We take the path on the right that leads up some quite steep steps and at the top is a bench.  In May this area is covered in Bluebells.

Long Wood Nature Reserve Somerset
Long Wood entrance

Long Wood Nature Reserve somerset
Long Wood Nature Reserve

Woodland steps
Path to the top of Long Wood

Long Wood German Shepherd in woodland
Making our way up

We follow the path along the top of the woods which eventually leads back down to the lower path.  We turn right and follow the stream which is perfect for Cleo to take a dip.  There are small waterfalls and a wooden bridge in this part of the woods.  It’s very pretty.

Long Wood Nature Reserve stream waterfall
Cleo standing on top of one of the Long Wood waterfalls

Long Wood Somerset stream
Walking along the stream

Long Wood Nature Reserve dog in stream
Enjoying nature

Dog taking a dip at Long Wood, Somerset.
Taking a dip!

There is plenty of wildlife here, with woodpeckers, buzzards and badger gates in the walls.

We go back on ourselves and follow the path straight ahead to the gate that takes us out to Black Rock.

Velvet Bottom

Velvet Bottom nature reserve is a long and narrow dry river valley that leads you to Charterhouse.  It is filled with grassland (which feels incredibly soft when walking on it), and small patches of woodland and scrub.  There is evidence of its lead mining history.

Velvet Bottom nature reserve sign.
Velvet Bottom Nature Reserve

There are two small caves named Timber Hole and Hangover Hole, and a series of dams.

German Shepherd in Cheddar Gorge.
Carefully navigating the rocks

Dog walking at the Cheddar Complex.

Velvet Bottom in Somerset.
The grass feels really soft under your feet

You may spot archaeological footprints left behind by lead mining.  The area is also home to plenty of wildlife including, adders, common lizard, slow worm and grass snakes that can be found basking in the summer sun.

Cleo at Velvet Bottom.
Cleo loved this varied walk

Once we reach Charterhouse, we go back the way we came to Black Rock and to where we parked.

On the way home we stop off at Cheddar Paws, which is below the cliffs of the Gorge, and Cleo enjoys a nice treat.

We loved this walk at the Cheddar Complex nature reserve! There is so much variety over a walk that is less than 5 miles long. The walk can easily be extended further to include Cheddar Gorge.

Contact us if you are interested in our Bristol dog walks. You can follow our dog walking adventures on Instagram and Facebook.

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