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Cheese Rolling in Gloucestershire

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Most people enjoy cheese, and whether it's of the tangy blue variety, something a little bit more mature or a novel blend that incorporates fruit, there is normally something to whet the taste buds.

But not many people can say they have spent the day rolling their favourite cheese down the side of a Gloucester hillside - and perhaps not everyone has the desire to do so.

However, the Cheese Rolling event at Cooper's Hill gives visitors the chance to do exactly that in a historic event that sees food enthusiasts go head-to-head in a very unusual race.

Competitors take part in different categories, depending on their age, sex and whether or not they want to roll cheese up or downhill.

Each race sees between two and 20 cheese rollers compete for first place. After the master of ceremonies gives the green light, competitors throw their cheese down the hill hoping it will travel at the greatest speed. They then hurl themselves down the slopes after their runaway dairy ball.

The first person to arrive at the foot of the hill wins the competition, but most importantly they pocket the cheese.

Second and third place winners receive a small cash prize.

However, the race is not all plain sailing. The hill has a gradient that, in places, is fairly steep and organisers warn that its surface can be rough and uneven.

They say: "It is almost impossible to remain on foot for the descent. Injuries incurred are usually minor and competitors (particularly the successful ones) enter again year after year."

There are five races held throughout the day, taking place at 20 minute intervals, and even if visitors do not fancy taking part it is a wonderful event to behold as a spectator.

While the Cheese Rolling event at Cooper's Hill may seem like a peculiar event it is one steeped in tradition, dating back hundreds of years, possibly to the time of the Ancient Britons or Romans.

Organisers believe that the tradition has evolved from early fertility rituals, which took place to bring about a successful harvest.

They say there is no evidence there has event been a break in the public event, aside from three times in recent years when the police called a halt to proceedings over fears of too many injuries, while foot and mouth disease also brought disruption.

But today the event is stronger than ever and always welcomes cheese fans from all over the country.


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