Best of Britain – Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling Festival – Monday 30th May 2016
A Brilliantly Bonkers Event
Chasing a round wheel of cheese down a hill may seem like madness – but it’s possibly one of the best events in the UK.
Britain has a reputation for being a little eccentric, with a way of life that’s totally unique. That’s a good thing! After all, it’s what makes the UK the place it is. In our ongoing series celebrating the Queen’s 90th birthday, we thought we’d take a look at an event that is full of typical British eccentricity. Cooper’s Cheese Rolling Festival is a yearly event that takes place in the picturesque surroundings of Gloucestershire – and it’s just as weird and wonderful as it sounds!
The History Of The Festival
The origins of the festival are a little bit unclear, but it’s been a regular fixture in the area for many years. Some say it evolved from a requirement to maintain gazing rights on the common. Perhaps a more interesting theory is that the festival is derived from an ancient pagan ritual. Wherever it came from though, it’s become one of the most beloved events in the UK. It even attracts participants from other countries – the race has had both American and Japanese champions.
So what actually happens during the festival? Well, a 9lb round wheel of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled down the hill, and after a little head start, the racers set off after it. In theory, everyone is competing to catch the cheese, but it does pick up speed – up to 70 miles an hour in fact! So unless someone puts in a superhuman effort, the cheese usually makes it to the bottom of the hill unscathed. Instead, the first person over the line wins the cheese. You can watch some of the races on Youtube.
The Local Watering Holes
The surrounding area owes a great deal to the festival too. The Cheese Rollers Inn in the nearby village of Shurdington is named after the event, and is a great country pub – full of charm and has a great selection of drinks. However, the most popular pubs are the The Cross Hands and The Victoria, where you’ll see racers discussing tactics beforehand and taking in some much needed refreshments afterwards!
So if you want to get involved, what do you have to do next? Well, it’s surprisingly easy to take part! There are no sign-ups or cut off dates to worry about. All you have to do is to turn up on the day and let the organisers know that you want to take part. It really is that simple!
So if you turn up and decide to just watch rather than participate, you won’t have any explaining to do – and vice versa! In an age where events are often complicated to enter and take part in, it’s really refreshing to see a traditional, back to basics event like this excel. You do take part at your own risk though – and you’re advised to not wear your best clothes!
Ready, Set, Go!
The Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling Festival is a great example of the individuality of Britain. It’s attracted attention from all over the world, and the hill is heaving with spectators at every race. In the Queen’s landmark birthday year, it’s important that we look at what makes the country she rules over so special. An event like this that’s fun and rooted in local history is a great example of that. We should warn you though, injuries caused by chasing a cheese down a steep hill are not covered by our UK travel insurance policies – but don’t let that stop you!
Photo by Michael Warren.