Black Rock lime kiln walk
Cheddar Gorge, Cheddar, SomersetRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
This is a gentle and easy walk through a hidden dry limestone valley, ending in a peaceful grassy area, ideal for a picnic. The walk can be continued on up through Velvet Bottom to Charter House.
- Grade of walk: Trainer (all rounder)
- Type of walk: 'Hidden Places', 'Flora & Fauna'
- Bus stop
Start: The lay by at Black Rock Gate, grid ref: ST482546
Park in the lay by at Black Rock Gate in Cheddar Gorge.
The Black Rock Drove lime kiln is one of several in Cheddar Gorge. Its a late example, built after 1904, and has a very large combustion chamber. During repairs in 1988, newspapers dated 1937, fossilised with lime, were discovered. They indicate the date of repairs when the kiln was in production. Limestone from the quarry was processed here. Other features associated with it were conveyor belt and engine mountings and tipping jetties.
Go through the gate and follow the track through the steep-sided woods. Pass through another gate. Notice how the trees and walls are luxuriant in mosses and ferns.
Lime burning on site was traditional practice across Britain from Roman times to the 20th century. Wherever suitable limestone was found, layers of limestone (calcium carbonate) and coal were ignited and left to burn for days. Carbon dioxide and other gases burnt off, leaving corrosive quicklime (calcium oxide). This was mixed with water to make slaked lime (calcium hydroxide or lime hydrate) for building mortars, plasters and lime washes. Since the 1600s lime has been used in agriculture to condition soil and reduce its acidity.
Keep going along the track, coming out of the woods into a steep sided, sunny limestone grassland valley. This grassland is studded with lime-loving flowers like the rock rose, yellow-wort and wild thyme. The marbled white butterfly is commonly seen here in the summer.
In the woods, the trees and walls are rich in mosses and ferns like the common polypody. The limestone grassland of the steep-sided, sunny valley is studded with lime-loving flowers like the rock rose, yellow-wort and wild thyme. The marbled white butterfly is commonly seen in summer here. House martins, swallows and swifts hunt for insects over flat grassy areas.
Walk past an old lime kiln on your left, carrying along the track, with a dry stone wall on your right.
You can now see the quarry on your left, continue walking along the track.
Head up left onto a flat grassy area, this is ideal for a picnic, or just to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet. House martins, swallows and swifts hawk for insects over this area.
Walk across the grass, with the rock face on your right until you are near the top of the lime kiln. From here, there's a steep unfenced drop.
Pass this on your left and drop back down to the path.
Follow this back, retracing your steps, to Black Rock Gate.
We hope that you really enjoyed this one-mile walk. The National Trust looks after some of the most spectacular areas of countryside for the enjoyment of all. We need your support to help us continue our work to cherish the countryside and provide access to our beautiful and refreshing landscapes. To find out more about how you too can help our work as a volunteer, member or donor please go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk
End: The lay by at Black Rock Gate, grid ref: ST482546
In partnership with
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 1 mile (1.6km)
- Time: 30 minutes to 40 minutes
- OS Map: Landranger 182
The walk is flat, with gates, but no stiles. There's a hard track surface, but it may be muddy in places during the winter. Dogs are welcome on leads.
- How to get here:
- By car: Drive up Cheddar Gorge from Cheddar for 1.5 miles (2.4km)
- No public transport available
- Contact us