Where: Cooper’s Hill, Painswick, Gloucestershire
What is it?
Cheese Rolling has been taking place at Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire since the 1800s, and despite the official event closing in 2010, it still attracts a crowd of crazy cheese rolling fans.
Traditionally the event consists of five different races down the hill, each beginning with a 9lb round of Double Gloucester cheese being hurled down the hill. Last year the cheese was replaced with a foam replica on grounds of safety. The competitors race down the hill in an attempt to catch the cheese. Competitors can’t usually capture the rolling cheese as it hurtles down the hill, so the winner is usually the person to reach the bottom first. Due to the steepness of the hill, competitors are frequently seen tumbling head over heels as they attempt to reach the cheese. The brave or crazy winners receive a Double Gloucester cheese as their prize. The event is popular, attracting an international crowd. Last year cheese rolling races were won by American and Japanese competitors.
It is unsure where the origins of the cheese rolling began but there are two possible explanations. The first explanation is that the custom comes from the requirement for maintaining grazing rights on the common. The second is that it originates from the pagan custom of rolling objects down the hill. Pagans were said to roll bundles of burning brushwood down the hill to signify the birth of spring.
Those planning to take part should be aware that this unusual sport has caused broken bones and other injuries over the years, so do bear this in mind.
Watch last year’s event to get a flavour of this mad cap tradition, complete with broken bones!
More info: www.cheese-rolling.co.uk