We always look forward to the Spring Bank holiday weekend here at the Edgemoor Inn because inevitably we get some jolly visitors popping in for a drink or a meal en route to or from one of England’s wackiest annual events – the Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling.
If you haven’t experienced this bizarre race, it’s definitely worth a visit. Taking part can be a bit of a risk to life and limb, but if you’re game give it a go. Personally I find it more much fun to be a spectator. It has to be said that because of some controversy involving health and safety issues, the Cheese-Rolling is currently held unofficially – so take part at your own risk!
So, what’s it all about? Well the traditional cheese roll, like many of our stranger customs, is credited with pagan origins. Back in ancient times apparently bundles of burning brushwood were rolled down Cooper’s Hill to celebrate the arrival of spring. Somehow over the years the event has evolved into a free-for-all race down the extremely steep one-in-three gradient of the 200 yard long hill chasing a wheel of cheese. The winner, of course, is the one who grabs the cheese and gets to carry it off proudly as the prize.
In recent years the event has become increasingly popular, drawing not only enthusiasts from the surrounding area but dozens of tourists from around the country and abroad. There are now five races held each year – so five chances to win that elusive cheese if you can make it down the hill without being knocked over or falling head-over-heels.
Apparently the cheese itself can reach speeds of up to 70 miles an hour (the cheese, it has to be said, is given a one second head start), so competitors have to be quick off the mark! It’s well nigh impossible to catch the cheese, but you win if you’re the first to cross the line at the bottom of the hill. The cheese wheel used is traditionally a Double Gloucester weighing upwards of nine pounds, and it’s made and supplied each year by local cheesemaker Diana Smart.
Last year’s Cheese Roll took place in torrential rain – the mud just seems to add to the gory glory of the chase! It was won by “local legend” Chris Anderson, who has won more cheeses at the event over the years than he’s had hot dinners.
If you plan on coming down our way to see Chris defend his title this year here are the details you’ll need:
How to get to Cooper’s Hill
This is difficult, because of the huge volume of traffic attracted to the event. Police generally close the roads leading to the site. The hill is located in near Brockworth village and can be reached by following the A46 north from Stroud and Painswick. The postcode is GL3 4SD. It is best to arrive prepared to park some distance away and enjoy the walk in to the site. The hill is
The first race traditionally kicks off at around noon, although organisation is rather informal. You should give yourself plenty of time to reach the hill and get into position … the best view is from the bottom.
IF YOU’RE COMING CHEESE-ROLLING WITH US HERE IN THE COTSWOLDS THIS YEAR, DON’T FORGET TO STOP IN AT THE EDGEMOOR IN FOR SOME LIQUID REFRESHMENT OR A HEARTY MEAL. IF YOU NEED DIRECTIONS, CALL IN AND ASK – WE’LL BE HAPPY TO HELP.