Cheddar ales and the Mendips

Cheddar Gorge is about 20 minutes South of Bristol. It is the home of Cheddar cheese. The gorge cuts through the limestone Mendips Hills, sheer cliffs, caves and winding road, it attracts a fair number of tourists.

Up on the top of the Mendips, is moorland mixed in with farming country. When the weather is good you can see across the Bristol Channel to Wales. Took my eldest daughter horse riding up on the top of the Mendips, dropped her off at the farm and decided would drive through Cheddar gorge. We saw spectacular cliffs, loads of cyclists (no idea why) and a few wild goats and sheep running about on the slopes. Reminiscing when I was my son’s age we used to do school trips and projects on Cheddar Gorge.

After the sightseeing, we ended up at the Thatchers cider brewery in Sandford. Lots of ciders, picked up some of old faithful ciders but also spotted a couple of local brews – Cheddar Ales Goat’s Leap Indian Pale Ale. This beer was not too dark and had a fairly lively fruity flavour. At 5.6%, this hoppy beer had a fair bit of a kick. Have not seen Cheddar Ales on tap but will keep my eyes open though to see what else might be on offer. This is another worthy addition to the botf list.

That evening, I had my first foray at fishing   Barrow tanks were the venue in fairly blustery and cool conditions. I kicked off around 5pm and for first hour or so nothing was doing. Kept moving around the lake and found deeper water, away from the dreaded weed that has bloomedthroughout summer.  I fished a team of black buzzers and black booby on an intermediate line and managed to snag a brown trout of about 2lb ….. I am off the mark. Thought this was a bit more promising so kept twitching the team flies through the water and then bang a good pull on the line. Out of the depths jumped a fit and well conditioned rainbow trout, which proceeded to tear off, stripping line well down into the backing.  A few nervous moments, I knew it was a good fish and was worried that on one of its jumps its tail would whack the leader and fly out of its mouth as it splashed back into the water. No net but managed to beach the fish, although my brother got a booter for his trouble. It weighed in at 7lb 2oz, best fish this year at Barrow (and would beat the best for last year too … and maybe others). Fish of the month for Barrow is worth fifty quid and fish of the year is worth two hundred …….. a fish of a life time caught on my first trip of the year …. not sure if will claim the prize, who knows and who cares ……. what a fish!

Few celebratory beers at the Winford Arms on the way home and as a footnote this weekend managed to catch a thirteen+ pounder from a small Stillwater, but it was nowhere near as good as this fish.