Mendips header
 Overview maps
 Locality areas
  Cheddar Gorge
 Burrington Combe
 Shipham & Rowberrow
 Crook Peak & Axbridge
 Banwell to Churchill
 Harptree & Smitham Hill
 Draycott & Westbury-sub
 Wookey Hole & Ebbor
 Great Elm & Vallis Vale
 Mells & the Wadbury Valley
 The Vobster area
 The Whatley area
 Torr Works & Asham Wood
 Beacon Hill
 Stoke St Michael & Oakhill
 Holwell & Nunney
 Shepton Mallet & Maesbury
 Gurney Slade & Emborough
 The Nettlebridge valley
 Rocks of Mendips
 Geological timescale
 Ancient environments
 Geological structure
 Minerals and mines
  Minerals and mines
 Industrial archaeology
  Stone as a resource
 Employment & the economy
 Quarrying & geodiversity
 Quarrying & the environment
 History of quarrying
 Caves and karst
 How caves form
 Dry valleys and gorges
 Dolines and sinkholes
 Mendip caves
 Going caving
  Flora and fauna
 Typical Mendip habitats
 Special Mendip habitats
 Horseshoe bats
 Appendix of names
 Biodiversity of western
 Biodiversity of eastern
 External links
 Detailed site information
  Coal mining
  Mendip quarry companies
  East Mendip quarries
 Biodiversity of eastern
  West Mendip quarries
 Biodiversity of western
 Site map
Mendip caves
Introduction | Cheddar catchment | Wookey catchment | Burrington area | Eastern Mendip | Western Mendip

Cheddar Catchment

The largest caves in the Cheddar catchment occur along the southern side of Blackdown, around Charterhouse. These caves, GB Cave, Charterhouse Cave, Longwood Swallet, Manor Farm Swallet and the recently extended Upper Flood Swallet are classic examples of swallet caves. Relative to their size, this group of caves, especially GB Cave, are some of the most intensively studied in the world. All five major caves are similar with streamways, often well decorated with stalagmites, descending down to a sump or a choke, with up to four tiers of relict high-level phreatic passages.

The caves drain to Cheddar Risings. Above these large springs at the mouth of Cheddar Gorge there is a complex series of abandoned caves. The largest is Gough’s Cave, 2.1 km long, which intercepts the underground River Yeo, which has been followed upstream through several deep sumps.

GB Cave

Reservoir Hole
  Cheddar Caves

Discovered in 1898, this show cave is also one of Europe’s most important Upper Palaeolithic archaeological sites and the home of ‘Cheddar Man’, one of several skeletons found in the cave. Mitochondrial DNA from this skeleton was found to match that of a school teacher living nearby today. Several other smaller caves, Great Oones Hole, Long Hole and Gough’s Old Cave occur higher in the cliffs. Further up the gorge is Reservoir Hole, a relict cave system which once drained to Cheddar.

Upper Flood Swallet
goto the British Geological Survey home page