Bonkers dare-devils chased Double Gloucester cheeses down the 1 in 4 slope of Cooper’s Hill continuing the ancient Spring Bank Holiday tradition at Brockworth, Gloucestershire on Spring Bank Holiday Monday.
Police closed one of the major roads close to the event for the morning so about 4.5k spectators got there ye olde Brockworth way, by walking up the footpath from the Cross Hands roundabout. It’s a bit of a pull in places but the meadows were looking lovely and the views are excellent – there was even a bit of excitement as a red deer bounded out of the woodland across one of the fields.
The weather was perfect, the going was good to firm and the hill looked in good condition. The organisers get out and do some scrub-bashing and tidying in advance of the event – which has been officially banned for about five years since it went super-global and about 30k people tried to turn up all at once.
Brockworth people (..and yes, I am one. Welsh first, Brockworth second) tend not to bow to pressure from authority to cease an event – especially when it is on Common Land and more especially when it is a much-loved and ancient local tradition.
The tradition, in spite of dire warnings of the sheer untrammelled dangerousness, in spite of some local landowners chaining and locking gates, in spite of no official attendance by first-aiders or the police, continues untroubled by such details.
I was hoping that some enterprising news agency would have invested in a drone to do some over-the-top and in-your-face footage of the cheese-chasing but there wasn’t one. Instead, a magnificent person in a bi-plane entertained the crowds to some aerial acrobatics and loop-de-looping over the hill.
Fifteen-times cheese-chasing champ Chris Anderson showed his supremacy and style winning two races without a single somersault but thank goodness they didn’t all run as fluently and easily as he did.
What would cheese chasing be without some descending A over T action, unexpected power slides, spectacular body bounces and head-planting?
Part of the joy is the entire crowd going “OOOOOoooo” in sympathy/horror at someone’s particularly heavy impact or spontaneous applause for the last man or woman down the hill. First one down wins a cheese but every single participant is a hero at the cheese rolling.
Local girl Keavy Morgan won the Ladies Race in fine style – so fine and so chaotic that even my camera on sports setting only captured blurred images of her tumbles so here she is after the presentation…
The only injuries were a couple of guys with broken or sprained ankles. One of them had come to the event from the Midlands. He was shocked by the gradient.
“It doesn’t look this steep on film!”
He said he was the only one of his pals who’d had the guts to run. The others were celebrating at the top of the hill. He’d foolishly raced sober! Big mistake. Squiffy people fall softer, as ane fule no… or at least ane fule taking part in the roll of chiz.
The police did a good job this year too. Instead of wasting money flying a police helicopter pointlessly over the event, as they did last year to cheers and jeers from the happy mob on the hill, they supervised road closures and traffic and enabled the crowds to cross roads safely where they needed to.
Gloucestershire County Council posted notices around the countryside and did their very best to frighten people. Thankfully, upwards of 4,500 spectators took no notice of them at all.