"Somerset Tourism can scale new heights in 2015" - James Heappey

James Heappey, the prospective Conservative MP for the Wells constituency, today abseiled down Britain’s highest inland limestone cliff – the 450 feet High Rock at Cheddar Gorge in Somerset.

The descent coincided with the launch of the 2015 English Tourism Week (March 14-22) – which showcases the country’s holiday and leisure destinations and their value to the economy and creation of local employment.

 Mr Heappey completed the abseil in 10 minutes. The 600ft (200m) abseil ropes were “rigged” by Nigel Elliott, the cliff safety supervisor at Cheddar Gorge, and James was supervised on his descent by Duncan Massey – the owner of Development Personnel Ltd, a training and leisure centre on the Mendips.

James Heappey said:

“It was an absolutely exhilarating experience and an enormous privilege to be allowed to descend one of the most daunting cliff faces in Britain – but also one of the country’s most naturally beautiful and iconic landscapes.

“I would like to thank my co-climbers for their considerable capability in making sure the descent went to plan. I know that very few people get to abseil down High Rock, and so I count myself very lucky indeed.”

Tourism - unlocking Somerset’s potential

After a difficult 2014 caused partly by the Somerset floods, the county’s tourism industry is preparing and investing for the season ahead.

James Heappey said:

“In recent weeks, Environment Minister Liz Truss has thrown her support behind new initiatives to encourage people to visit Somerset to sample our world class food and drink. 

“Last week, Tourism Minister Helen Grant visited the Somerset Museum in Taunton and Cheddar Caves to showcase just two of the world class visitor attractions we have here.

“And this week, I've had the great privilege of abseiling down the UK's tallest inland cliff in Cheddar Gorge to promote the amazing opportunities for outdoor activities that exist across our county. Somerset has so much to offer in so many different areas and there is the opportunity to create hundreds, perhaps thousands, more jobs if we can encourage more people to come here. 

“I'll continue to work with Visit Somerset and the local tourist industry to help promote out county and help them realise that potential.”

Hugh Cornwell, Director of Cheddar Gorge and Caves, said:

“Cheddar Gorge and Caves have been an important part of the tourism scene in England for over 200 years. We fully embrace English Tourism Week and its desire to showcase iconic landscapes of outstanding natural beauty like the Gorge and caves.

“Cheddar Gorge attracts thousands of visitors every year with a significant number being holidaymakers in Somerset, day visits from residents in Bristol, and further afield, and a resurgence in school parties. 

It’s therefore vital we continue to invest in this tourist destination to provide people with unforgettable experiences, to ensure that Cheddar tourism remains a key part of the local economy and plays its part in conserving the countryside for future generations to enjoy.”