Cheese Rolling At Cooper’s Hill, Gloucestershire, UK: A Weird British Tradition

Are you interested to know more about a weird British tradition like the Cheese Rolling Race in Brockworth, Gloucestershire? I got you covered! I have been to witness this crazy and fun cheese-rolling event.

The Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, known for its gradient and charm, becomes the epicenter of a unique and exhilarating event each year, all thanks to a wheel of cheese. Yes, you read that right — a wheel of cheese!

The Cheese Rolling Event at Cooper’s Hill is an age-old British tradition that sees participants from all walks of life chase a rolling cheese down the hill, with the goal of catching it (or at least, reaching the bottom first).

The Cheese Rolling History in Cooper’s Hill

The origins of the cheese rolling event are a bit hazy, but it’s generally agreed that it dates back hundreds of years. Some say it has pagan roots, perhaps as a fertility rite to encourage a bountiful harvest. Others claim it started as a way for the local community to assert their rights to graze on common land.

British Cheese Rolling Tradition
British Cheese Rolling Tradition

This event is as simple as it is chaotic: a round of Double Gloucester cheese is used to rolled down a steep hill, and participants chase after it. The first person to cross the finish line at the bottom of the hill wins the cheese.

Double Gloucester Cheese Block for the Cheese Rolling Race in Brockworth Gloucestershire UK
Double Gloucester Cheese Block for the Cheese Rolling Race in Brockworth, Gloucestershire UK

Regardless of its beginnings, the event has evolved over the years into an international spectacle. While traditionally, it was a local affair attended mainly by people from the surrounding Gloucestershire villages, it now attracts competitors and spectators from all around the world.

Cheese rolling is more than just an amusing pastime. It’s a marker of local identity and a way for the community to come together. Plus, it serves as a kind of informal initiation for younger generations who grow up watching their elders hurl themselves down the hill.

The event strengthens community bonds and passes on local traditions in a way that’s visceral and immediate. You’re not just a spectator; you’re a part of the action.

For those who can’t make it to Cooper’s Hill, there’s an episode in the Netflix series “We Are the Champions” that provides an up-close look at this madcap event. Featured in episode 1, the show does a fantastic job of capturing the spirit and excitement of the competition.

Netflix series “We Are the Champions” – Cheese Rolling in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, UK

It offers interviews with participants, explores the techniques and strategies they employ, and delves into what makes this seemingly bizarre tradition so compelling. If you’ve ever wondered what drives people to risk life and limb for a wheel of cheese, this episode offers some enlightening answers.

The Cheese Rolling Rules and Mechanics

How does this British tradition actually work? Well, the devil, or perhaps the cheese, is in the details. Let’s talk about one of the most thrilling UK events.

First things first: the hill itself. Cooper’s Hill is steep. It’s a 200-yard incline with a gradient that can hit 1:1 in some places, which is basically just a nice way of saying it’s almost vertical.

Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire UK
Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire, UK

When you’re standing at the top, looking down, you’ll quickly realize that this isn’t your average hill. It’s an obstacle course designed by nature, with tufts of grass, uneven terrain, and the occasional molehill to trip you up.

Chris Anderson holding a block of Double Gloucester Cheese
Chris Anderson (23-time Cheese rolling champion) holding a block of Double Gloucester Cheese

As for the cheese, it’s not just any cheese; it’s a 9-pound round of Double Gloucester, which is a hard, crumbly cheese native to the UK. The cheese gets a one-second head start before participants begin their mad dash. Think of it as the edible, rolling version of a starter’s pistol.

The rules of Cheese Rolling are straightforward but consequential:

  • Participants line up at the top of the hill, and when the cheese is released, it’s every person for themselves.
  • There’s no proper technique for descending the hill—some people run, others roll, and a few even somersault.
  • The key is to get to the bottom as quickly as possible, without too much concern for style or grace.
  • The winner isn’t necessarily the person who catches the cheese; rather, it’s the first to cross the finish line at the bottom of the hill after the cheese has been released.
  • And the prize? The cheese itself, of course, along with the honor of having conquered Cooper’s Hill.

It’s actually not just a race; it’s a trial by hill, a communal spectacle that brings people together in the spirit of competition and local pride.

Cheese Rolling Uphill Races
Cheese Rolling Uphill Races

There are also different types of Cheese rolling races in which participants can take part:

  • Men’s Downhill Race (Three races)
  • Younger Mixed Children’s Uphill Race (Aged 11 years old and under)
  • Older Mixed Children’s Uphill Race (Aged 12 – 17 years old)
  • Women’s Downhill Race (One Race only)
  • Mixed Adult’s Uphill Race – 1 Male and 1 Female Winners

The Downhill races are limited to up to 25 participants only.

The local Brockworth Rugby Football Club is at the bottom of the hill ready to tackle the participants to help them land safely and stop them from rolling further. Mainly acting as “catchers” of the Cheese Rolling participants.

Brockworth Rugby Football Team at the Cheese Rolling Event
Brockworth Rugby Football Team at the Cheese Rolling Event

The Cheese Rolling Event at Cooper’s Hill is an experience, a story you’ll tell for years, whether you’re a local or a visitor who decided to partake in this unique British tradition.

The Cultural Importance of the Event

By now, you probably get that the Cheese Rolling Event at Cooper’s Hill is no ordinary race. While it might look like a mad dash for dairy, the event serves a deeper purpose for locals and even those traveling great distances to partake in this British tradition.

Most towns have fairs, parades, or festivals, but how many can say they have a centuries-old event that involves sprinting down a near-vertical hill? This isn’t just something people from Gloucestershire watch for kicks; it’s a rite of passage.

Young Children Cheese Rolling Uphill Race
Young Children Cheese Rolling Uphill Race

Young folks look forward to the day they can join the race, taking the same daring leaps their parents and grandparents once did. It’s the kind of event where, even if you move away, you come back year after year, just to be a part of it.

The Cheese Rolling competition also holds significant cultural importance in shaping Gloucestershire’s identity. You see, every region has its quirks and traditions, but this event puts Gloucestershire on the map for something truly unique.

Female Cheese Rolling Downhill Race
Female Cheese Rolling Downhill Race

It encapsulates a particular brand of fearlessness, a willingness to embrace the absurd, and a community spirit that’s hard to find elsewhere. When people think of Gloucestershire, cheese rolling is often one of the first things that come to mind.

And this isn’t just among locals. Thanks to the media coverage and the influx of international participants, the event has become a cultural ambassador of sorts.

It presents Gloucestershire to the world, showing off a community that’s united in its love for tradition, spectacle, and, of course, cheese. It’s the kind of UK event that manages to be both intensely local and universally relatable.

The Influence Beyond the UK

While the Cheese Rolling Event at Cooper’s Hill in Gloucestershire is undeniably a quintessentially British tradition, its influence has rolled—quite literally—far beyond the UK.

Cheese Rolling Competition Event in Brockworth Gloucestershire UK
Cheese Rolling Competition Event in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, UK

Again, thanks to media coverage and the undeniable pull of such a quirky English spectacle, the event has gained international fame, luring participants and spectators from around the globe.

You know an event has hit the big time when it gets covered by major news outlets and becomes the subject of viral videos. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see journalists and camera crews from different countries huddled at the base of Cooper’s Hill.

And let’s not forget the global audience tuning in through live streams or catching highlights on social media. Making it viral news in the mainstream pop culture.

How to Join or Witness the Cheese Rolling Race

I see now that you’re itching to be a part of this exhilarating British tradition. Whether you fancy yourself tumbling down the hill or prefer to watch the controlled chaos from a safe distance, there are some tips to keep in mind.

Ryazan Tristram with Delaney Irving Female Cheese Rolling Winner from Canada
Ryazan Tristram (me) with Delaney Irving Female Cheese Rolling Winner from Canada

Here are the key things to know to join the Cheese Rolling Race:

  • No registration nor requirements are needed to join the Cheese rolling race.
  • For the Downhill races, you need to be at the top of Cooper’s Hill before the start of the event at 12 noon. Maximum of 25 participants only, first come, first serve basis.
  • Over 18’s only in all Downhill Cheese rolling competitions.
  • All Uphill Cheese Rolling races will be called upon at the bottom of the hill before the races begin.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and footwear. You can also wear safety gear or costume if you want.
  • Joining the Cheese Rolling event is entirely AT YOUR OWN RISK.

For those who prefer spectating, arriving early is key. Cooper’s Hill, located in the heart of Gloucestershire, tends to fill up quickly on event day. By staking out a good spot early on, you’ll have a prime view of all the action. Bring some snacks, a comfortable chair, and perhaps even binoculars for a close-up view of the racers’ expressions as they chase that wheel of cheese!

Here are the Car Parking places available for the Cheese Rolling Event in Brockworth, Gloucestershire, UK:

  • 🚗 Toby Carvery Brockworth, Shurdington Rd, Brockworth, Gloucester GL3 4PH
  • 🚗 Droys Court, Cirencester Road Witcombe GL3 4TN
  • 🚗 The Brockworth Garden Centre, Shurdington Road, Brockworth, GL3 4PU
  • 🚗 Delta Hotels by Marriott Cheltenham Chase, Shurdington Rd, Brockworth, Gloucester GL3 4PB

The Car Parking fee for the whole day is around £5 or £10, all proceeds will go to local charities. I advise you to bring the exact cash or change for the car parking.

Now, what if you’re across the globe and can’t make it to the UK for the event? Don’t worry! In recent years, the Cheese Rolling Event has gained such cultural importance that it’s frequently live-streamed.

The main Facebook page of the Cheese Rolling Event is Coopers Hill Cheese Roll, Brockworth. They usually make the announcements and Facebook live videos during the event.

Cheese Rolling Safety and Modern Controversies

While the Cheese Rolling Event at Cooper’s Hill is a cherished British tradition, it hasn’t been without its fair share of modern debates and concerns. A primary concern surrounding the event has always been safety.

Cheese Rolling Accidents
Cheese Rolling Accidents

Let’s face it, barreling down a steep hill in pursuit of a runaway cheese wheel is inherently risky. There have been sprained ankles, bruises, broken bones occasional more serious injury even death.

These concerns have, at times, brought the event under scrutiny, with some questioning if it should continue in its current form given the potential hazards. But where there are challenges, there are also solutions.

Organizers and local authorities have addressed these concerns and ensure the Cheese Rolling Event’s future. Hay bales are now strategically placed to cushion potential falls, and professional first-aid teams are always on standby.

The number of participants might be limited in certain races to reduce the chances of collisions. These efforts, combined with public awareness campaigns about the risks involved, aim to balance preserving the event’s thrilling nature and ensuring participants’ safety.

Moreover, the community’s determination to keep this UK event alive and well showcases its cultural importance. When official support for the event waned due to safety and liability concerns, locals stepped in, organizing and hosting unofficial races.

This resilient spirit proves that the people of Gloucestershire are committed to preserving this piece of their cultural heritage.

Similar Events Around the World

Cheese Rolling Event with the Cheese Rolling Game Master
Cheese Rolling Event with the Cheese Rolling Game Master

The thrill of the Cheese Rolling Event at Cooper’s Hill has undeniably captured the hearts and minds of many, not just in Gloucestershire but globally. Such is the cultural importance and sheer excitement of the event that various corners of the world have been inspired to host their own versions.

Stilton Cheese Rolling – Stilton, Cambridgeshire, UK

First, there’s the town of Stilton in Cambridgeshire, UK. Unlike its Gloucestershire counterpart, Stilton Cheese Rolling doesn’t involve a downhill chase. Instead, teams of four compete in relay races, carrying a wooden replica of a Stilton cheese wheel. The spirit of the competition is upbeat and focuses more on fun than fierce rivalry.

Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival – Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

Across the pond in Canada, the town of Whistler in British Columbia has also embraced this uniquely British tradition. Their event, aptly named the “Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival,” mirrors the original in many ways. Participants dash downhill, chasing an 11-pound wheel of Canadian cheese. The scenic backdrop of Whistler’s mountains adds a fresh twist to the age-old event.

Thredbo Cheese Rolling Championship – NSW, Australia

Lastly, let’s venture down under to Australia. The “Thredbo Cheese Rolling Championship” may be a mouthful to say, but it’s just as thrilling to watch. Set against the landscapes of New South Wales, competitors race to catch – you guessed it – a runaway wheel of cheese. While the landscape differs vastly from Cooper’s Hill, the spirit of fun, community, and light-hearted competition remains the same.

Cheese Rolling Brockworth Gloucestershire UK A Weird British Tradition
Cheese Rolling Brockworth Gloucestershire, UK
A Weird British Tradition

The Cheese Rolling Event at Cooper’s Hill isn’t just a race; it’s a celebration of culture, history, and community spirit. Deeply rooted in Gloucestershire’s heritage, this event has transcended time, evolving from a local British tradition to a global spectacle.

For those who’ve been lucky enough to witness the event in person, the memories surely linger. And for those yet to experience it, Gloucestershire awaits with open arms and a rolling cheese.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Everything Zany Dual Citizen Travel Blog

Everything Zany

Travel Blog

Everything Zany Travel Blog exploring the UK and beyond. Sharing travel guides, tips, history, and culture. Our travel media brand is founded by travel and hotel industry expert – Ryazan Tristram, a Dual Citizen (British–Filipina) based in Birmingham, UK. Everything Zany is a reputable and award-winning travel blog. Our work and contributions have been featured in the Huffington Post, CNBC, Discovery Channel, GMA, Readers Digest, and Lonely Planet. Our mission is to build a great travel community and resource of travel tips, visas, and travel guides for travelers. Join us as we travel around the UK and beyond with a mission to share the best of the world.

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