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Case Study: Mendip Rocks!

Title: Mendip Rocks!

Category: Landscapes for People
AONB: Mendip Hills

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The Mendip Rocks! Festival is an annual event that brings to life the fascinating rocks that have created the Mendip Hills.  A wide range of events reveal the ancient stories that have shaped a unique and very special landscape. It’s a great chance to see some of Mendip’s best kept geological secrets, with many events being held at sites that are not usually open to the general public. The festival offers something for everyone from family fun days to guided walks in working quarries for adults with some geological knowledge.

The festival, now in its 7th year delivers a one month programme each year offering guided walks, family activity days, quarry tours, talks, craft activities and practical conservation workdays.

What was done

The Mendip Rocks! Festival began in 2011 as a two week programme of activities organised by Wells and Mendip Museum and Somerset Wildlife trust with support from the Mendip Hills AONB Unit. There proved to be a great deal of interest in the festival being repeated and from 2012 onwards Mendip Rocks! Has been coordinated by the Somerset Earth Science Centre (as the most appropriate organisation to run as geology focussed education resource and target family/young people) in partnership with the AONB Unit.

Mendip Rocks! is now led by a partnership of the Mendip Hills AONB Unit, Somerset Earth Science Centre and the Mendip Society with further support from a broad network of groups and individuals. The festival has been financed by core funding from the Mendip Hills AONB Unit with contributions from the Mendip Society and John Wainwright and Co Ltd and in-kind support for a range of partners.

The programmes aim to provide as wide a geographical representation as possible and included good use of both active and post operational quarries, urban locations, iconic Mendip geological landmarks and nature reserves including sites for Earth cache hunts.

The 2017 Mendip Rocks! Festival programme included:

  • Family fun days.
  • Cave tours
  • Conservation tasks:
    • Dry stone walling
    • Habitat conservation on geological Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)
  • Quarry Tours
  • Geology walks
  • Industrial archaeology heritage walks
  • Building stone of historic buildings tour
  • Knitting and felting craft workshops
  • Geological mapping walks
  • Art workshops
  • Botany walks
  • History of caving talk
  • Geocaching walk

Coordination is delivered through the Somerset Earth Science Centre and involves:

  • Event planning – contacting past event organisers and possible new providers to scope possible events ensuring a comprehensive programme and to maximise opportunities geographically.
  • Programme planning – obtaining information from all event providers to produce the festival programme.
  • Publicity – producing specific articles for many community newsletters and magazines to promote the entire festival several months in advance. Press releases to promote the festival and individual events in the run-up and during the programme. Social media, mainly Facebook to promote the festival.
  • Organising the launch and finale events, coordinating activity providers/speakers, booking venues and catering, taking bookings and payments.
  • Liaising with event providers throughout the festival.

The festival has been promoted through:

  • A downloadable PDF of the festival programme available on the AONB website.
  • A full page advert in the “Mendip Times” glossy magazine .
  • Posters
  • Press releases/ eemail shots to parish magazines.
  • From 2017 a festival programme leaflet has been produced.


Numbers of events and participants in the Mendip Rocks! Festival 2011-16:

Year Number of Events Total Number of Participants
2011 12 218
2012 17 753
2013 18 803
2014 24 1,167
2015 26 709
2016 30 1,037


A key strength of the Mendip Rocks! Festival over the years has been to the willingness of a broad range of individuals, community groups and organisations to put a great deal of time and energy into organizing events at little or no cost. Where costs do need to be covered this has been done by an agreement that the event organizer can take a share of charges and donations received on the day.

The festival has also proved the value of a dedicated coordinator to give time to establishing links with these providers along with behind-the-scenes support to ensure the programme is well organized and promoted. There is now a strong community that has built around the Mendip Rocks! brand with many event organisers and participants eagerly awaiting the launch of the programme each year.

Further information and links               

Quote from project manager:

“The Mendip Rocks! Festival is a great example of what can be achieved by working collaboratively. Each year we are approached by people with new ideas for events that share the fantastic geology of the Mendip Hills.”

Quote from participant:

“I have enjoyed all the events listed; Mendip Lead walk, Somerset Coalfields walk and Prof Shreve’s walk at Ebbor Gorge; especially pleased that so many family days were included. We have been going to Mendip Rocks for several years and it gets better and better!”

Key search words: Mendip Rocks, Geology, Heritage, Events, Walks, talks, Activities

Photo Credits: Mendip Hills AONB