Family Outings: Cheddar Man and the Cannibals

With relatives like these, who needs enemies?
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The Independent Travel

The venue

The venue

A new attraction in Cheddar Gorge puts Britain's oldest complete skeleton back in his cannibalistic context. Housed in a cottage that once belonged to Richard Gough, the Victorian sea captain who opened up Cheddar as a geological tourist attraction, Cheddar Man and the Cannibals shows how locals lived and died 3,000 years ago. Guides are on hand to demonstrate knapping flint for an axe head, building doorways out of mammoth tusks and eating one another.

Something for children

A Paint Your Own Cave wall allows kids to draw the woolly mammoth of their choice, while a rotating skull and full-size cave-bear skeleton will give thrill-seekers the chance to prove their bravery. Guides in bearskins and trainers answer questions and make fire by rubbing sticks together if you ask nicely. Across the road, the Crystal Quest is a spooky cave trail past Tolkienesque fantasy figures - fire-breathing dragons, evil sorcerers, goblins and strobe lights.

Something for adults

Cannibal Cottage is not just sensationalist. The intelligent text round the walls explains why our ancestors ate each other (there were many reasons) and how they did it. There are also disquisitions on the origins of religion and the remarkable evolution of Homo sapiens from prey to predator. If that sounds too heavy, cross the road to Gough's Cave and wonder at the stalactites and stalagmites of Nature's Cathedral, a quarter mile of spectacular chambers formed by an Ice Age river that flowed beneath the Gorge and was home to Cheddar Man's friends and family. If you're feeling more active, Adventure Caving or Climbing and abseiling can be booked at the attraction, price £15 adults, £10 children 11 and over.

Refreshments

The Explorers Café Bar above Gough's Cave has picture windows and offers hot snacks.

Souvenirs

Cargo Cult Shop stocks reasonably priced fossils and crystals and overpriced Glastonbury Arthuriana.

Admission and access

Open 10am to 5pm daily, except 24 and 25 December. An Explorer ticket to all attractions costs £10.90 adults, £7.90 children. A family ticket (two adults and two children) is good value at £29.70. A single ticket to Cheddar Man and the Cannibals costs £5.50 adults, £4.20 children.

Disabled access: ramps offer complete access to Cheddar Man and restricted access to Gough's Cave, but the nature of the site makes access to other attractions impossible.

There is car parking at the gorge (£2.50 winter, £3.50 summer). Explorer Ticket holders can board the open-top Explorer Bus, which runs the length of the gorge from the lakeside car park.

How to get there: Cheddar Caves and Gorge, Cheddar, Somerset BS27 3QF (01934 742343; www.cheddar caves.co.uk).

By car: the M5 to Junction 22, A38 (north), A371 and follow signs to Cheddar. The B3135 leads up to the gorge.

By public transport: The nearest mainline railway station is at Weston-super-Mare, 12 miles away (0845 748 4950; www.national rail.co.uk/planmyjourney). There is also a bus station at Weston (0870 5808080 www.nationalexpress.com). First Bus (0870 608 2608) has an hourly service on No 126 and No 826 opposite the bus station, outside Tesco, to Tweentown Bus Stop, two minutes' walk from the gorge.

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