Wondering how to spend a Spring bank holiday? Hotel Price Scanner has the answer. Why not head to Gloucester and chase a big cheese down a hill. Yes really.
Every year at the end of May the Gloucester Cheese Rolling festival takes place at Cooper’s Hill, just outside the historical city of Gloucester. The festival dates back to the 1800s and ran continuously until 2010 when it was “officially” cancelled due to the large amount of injuries sustained by the competitors. The move sparked uproar from the loyal band of competitors and festival-goers who vowed to continue the tradition and subsequent years have continued to see loyal cheese lovers flocking from far and wide to seek their slice of the big cheese.
Cooper’s Hill is a startlingly steep slope located on the outskirts of Gloucester. The cheese-rolling contest takes place down a 200m section, which starts at a 2:1 gradient and becomes completely vertical for a short stretch before bumping its way down to the finish line. The aim of the game is to chase a whopping 8lb Double Gloucester cheese from top to bottom, with the first one down scooping the prize. “What prize?” we hear you ask. Well, the winner gets the cheese of course.
In practice it is physically impossible to halt the cheese in its tracks – an 8lb Double Gloucester gathers more momentum that you’d imagine over the course of 200 death-defying metres but that doesn’t stop over 2,000 willing participants from giving it their best shot. Very few competitors actually make it all the way down on their feet, with the majority rolling head over heels, sideways, backwards or any other way from top to bottom, straight into the open arms of the St John Ambulance crew waiting patiently at the foot of the hill.
The highest injury toll to date was in 1997 when more than 30 competitors suffered a heady combination of broken bones, splinters, gashes, scrapes and bruises. Life-threatening injuries are few and far between however, though it should be noted that even the spectators are not free from risk. One year an unwitting bystander was thrown off their feet by an off-course cheese, but took it in good spirit and declined to kick up a stink. The festival usually involves around four downhill races, including one for women only, as well as several uphill fun races for all ages.
With some 2000 spectators attending in recent years and yet more expected next time round, the Cheese Rolling Festival makes the perfect end to a spring bank holiday weekend. Make the most of your trip by exploring Gloucester and the beautiful Cotswold villages of Upper Slaughter, Lower Slaughter, Chipping Campden and Stow-on-the-Wold, which are dotted throughout the surrounding area. Gloucester itself has a great range of accommodation, from quirky bed and breakfasts to quality five-star hotels such as the Barnsley House or Hatton Court and a fantastic selection of restaurants to tease the palate.