Family cycling day riding the Strawberry Line from Yatton to Cheddar, Somerset
As this was looking the nicest day of the week we decided to spend the day Cycling the Strawberry Line in Somerset. The original section of the Strawberry Line from Yatton to Cheddar is 10 miles long, so we decided to do it over the course of the day taking breaks to see sites along the way, then cycle back again.
I am not a cycling enthusiast but found the route very agreeable, predominantly flat and therefore not so hard going, only towards the very end was I tiring, and I marvelled at how my 7 year old managed this with ease.
We parked up at Yatton train station around 10am and started the trail, the start of the trail takes you through the Roman port of Congesbury across the ancient Northmarsh. This is an Area of Special Scientific Interest and is frequented by grass snakes, newts, various birds and butterflies and even otters. My husband and I heard a big splash, which sounded like a dog so must have been an otter, bit sad that we didn't get to see it as it was behind tall hedgerow.
Next on the trail at around the halfway point conveniently is the Sandford Orchards. The Strawberry Line runs right through the orchards famous for the cider making of this region and home to Thatchers Cider Company. There is a pub on the Thatchers site, the Railway Inn that serves their delicious cider so we decided to stop here for lunch and sample the produce of the wonderful apple orchards we just cycled through. This is situated right next to the Strawberry Line and there is plenty of places to put your bikes.
After a lovely lunch and a small rest we get our gear back on and get back to the Strawberry Line. The next section takes us into the Mendip Hills and the landscape does change due to the limestone in the region. Here you enter Winscombe Millenium Green, where the old station has been turned into a village green. Winscombe does have a small shopping centre and a nice cafe but we decided on one pint of cider versus cream tea on this outing! Plus I had plans for our stop at Cheddar.
The next section of the Strawberry Line was my children's favourite - the Shute Shelve Tunnel, an original 165 metre railway tunnel. I read after that the tunnel is home to bats and rare cave-spiders. A good job you cannot see a thing when you are in it. Its quite exhilarating and you have to dismount unless you have nerves of steel and confident that there is nothing in front as it is pitch black in there with only the light at the end of the tunnel.
After the tunnel you soon enter Axbridge, which is a lovely medieval market square. There you can see the half-timbered King John's Hunting Lodge and St John the Baptist church dating from the 13th century.
After Axbridge you arrive at Cheddar. I have planned for another date a day in Cheddar but I wanted to mark the end of our cycling trip, so we visited the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, so I could take some of this cheese back to the van. The Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company does have a visitor centre where you can see this cheese being made but unfortunately due to Coronavirus this was closed. However you can still walk around the shop and there is a tasting counter so you can sample before you buy. The Especially Strong Cheddar was utterly mouth-watering.
The kids also found an ice-cream shop boasting over 100 flavours, we we stopped there to marvel at the array and try and pick one. I had a Cherry Bakewell ice-cream and was the best ice-cream i've ever had (that is not chocolate!).
Then we had to do this all in reverse, I found the views of Cheddar Reservoir on the return leg a much nicer viewpoint. We did the whole journey back, but whose to say you cannot drop in and have another quick refreshment at the pub on the way back!
We certainly slept well that night and the adults felt good that exercise doesn't have to be a chore in the slightest.
If you fancy giving the Strawberry Line a go visit: http://www.thestrawberryline.org.uk/ for more details.
When we visited the Railway Inn they specifically do not take bookings but operate on a first come first served basis, but the pub is big - visit: http://www.therailwayinn.com/
To visit Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company visit: https://www.cheddaronline.co.uk/