Another great Cotswold tradition has come to an end thanks to Health & Safety issues. Cheese Rolling, which has taken place at Cooper’s Hill for centuries, has been banned.
As a protest and in support of the cheese makers, I went out today and bought some of the same local type they use. Not a 7lb wheel, more a slither but it was the gesture that was important. And it tastes very good too. My photo below does not do justice to the texture, the smell and oh, the taste: ecstasy on a biscuit!
So what is cheese rolling? A 7lb Double Gloucester cheese is set in motion from the top of the steep hill – and it can reach speeds up to 70 miles per hour – and us ‘locals’ then chase it. The first person to reach the bottom and cross the line is the winner. Yes, you are right -it is another barmy English tradition.
Cheese rolling is not for the faint hearted as competitors are catapulted through the air such is the force and momentum generated by the hill’s steepness. Injuries are common but not as serious as you might think – a few broken bones but that is of little consequence to those that want to take part. What is more odd, is that the Health and Safety concerns are not about the competitors but the spectators, for the event has become so popular that over 15000 people attended the last one, which is usually held in May. With our little country lanes totally jammed and the hill only able to cope with 5000 people, the numbers are quite obviously a problem.
But there is some good news: a revised version of cheese rolling may take place next year. If it involves eating the cheese rather than risking life and limb running after it, I may just enter the competition…….
[Acknowledgement to the Daily Mail for some of this information]