If you are allergic to penicillin you may be right to think that the most harmful thing about cheese was the mould in things such as Roquefort, but then you’ve probably never stood at the top of Cooper’s Hill for the annual event that is sure to involve broken limbs and other such physical danger.
This year because of the Queens Diamond Jubilee it’s going to be celebrated a bit later than usual at the beginning of June rather than in May.
The event is simple: a large Double Gloucester Cheese is rolled down the hill and people chase it. The first to the bottom of the hill (or which is most unlikely, the first to grab the cheese mid-chase) wins, and gets to keep the cheese. Now personally speaking although shopping is not my favourite hobby I prefer that type of cheese selection to this one by a long chalk – seems much easier by far.
It does sound simple though doesn’t it…but that’s before you consider the normal muddy state of the grass and what’s more the actual slope of the hill itself.
The route down in parts is effectively a vertical drop (some may call it a cliff ) at others it is relatively harmless, the slope needing negociating being a mere 45 degrees ! Whilst the easy rules of the event is that all you have to do is run after the cheese, the reality is different. For effectively 100% of the competitors whilst their start point is a run it quickly ends up different and means rolling and tumbling down the hill.
Even for the select few that ever build up enough speed to catch up with the cheese there is catching up and then there is grabbing it. Looking at the few over the years that have tried I’d liken the act to trying to knit fog whilst being rotated in a tumble dryer.
For everyone that has ever taken part it is the nearest thing to Zorbing without the ball you could ever imagine.
The only year that competitors haven’t been injured was in 1998 and that was only because the police due to pressure from the Health and Safety commission had it cancelled. Each year competitors are injured – ranging from sprains, strains and many broken bones the only thing that has never been recorded is an actual death.
There is even a race up the hill (minus the cheese) for those who wish to prove their stamina rather than their propensity for self-harm although this isn’t quite as entertaining.
And whilst I have been known to partake in dangerous sports, whilst some people may class me as a bit of a nutter, the Cooper’s Hill Cheese Chase always had me in full spectator only mode.
In fact the nearest I’ve ever got to competing was opening my picnic hamper and helping myself to a completely different kind of cheese roll !