3 Jun

The Big Cheese

Gloucester Cheese PicChampion cheese chaser, Chris Anderson struck again with his 16th and 17th wins in the annual madcap cheese rolling event at Cooper’s Hill near Brockworth, six miles south east of Gloucester, held on May Bank Holiday Monday (30 May). Chris is a 28-year-old soldier who has been competing and winning for 12 years but apparently he doesn’t even like the taste of cheese!

The slope in question is 200m long with an almost impossible 1:2 average gradient. Prior to each competition a team of volunteers prepare the piste by removing stones, flattening undergrowth and temporarily lifting fences that guard this ancient hill.

The all-important cheese is a Double Gloucester wheel weighing 8lb, produced by hand using traditional methods by local cheese-maker Diana Smart for this event since 1988. The earliest recorded women’s winner was Jean Smith in 1936 but the event is believed to have originated in the 1800s. 

There are a number of official races, with the adult experts racing and tumbling downhill, while chasing the rolling cheese that has been released by the Master of Ceremonies. There are also a series of junior uphill races and the day always ends with several unofficial mass races, as the temptation to have a go mounts among thousands of spectators that throng the hill.

The event has built up an international reputation with competitors from USA and Japan particularly keen to discover whether the eccentric can catch the concentric in one of Britain’s most bizarre races.

All the details and some spectacular photos are on the official Cheese Rolling in Gloucestershire website.