UNDER ordinary circumstances, today would have seen thousand flock to Cooper's Hill near Brockworth for the annual cheese rolling event.

But the event was cancelled due to coronavirus, with police urging cheese rolling fans to stay away for their own safety.

The event involves chasing a 9lb Double Gloucester cheese down the incredibly steep - 1:2 gradient - hill.

The first person to the bottom claims the winner's title and the cheese.

The runners attempt to catch the cheese, but never make it as it rolls at speeds of up to 70mph.

The unusual event has been celebrated for centuries and is thought to have its roots in a heathen festival to celebrate the return of spring.

With the popular event cancelled, Master of Cheese Jem Wakeman, carried out a symbolic cheese roll down the empty hill at 5.30am this morning.

And later on, photographer Paul Nicholls popped along to see if any cheese rollers had gone along for old time's sake.

He captured a shot of a symbolic Babybel cheese being thrown down the hill.

And he also took some distant shots of people staggering and falling down the hill.

"They were taken a long way away because people were not coming down the hill when I was at the bottom with my camera," he said.

Earlier in the week Gloucestershire police said extra patrols would be taking place around Cooper's Hill, and people attempting to access the hill risked being turned back.

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Police said: "We are aware that the annual cheese-rolling event, which was due to take place at Cooper's Hill on Monday (25 May) has been cancelled because of Covid-19.

"The event usually attracts up to 8,000 participants and spectators, and we know how disappointed regular attendees will be that it is not taking place this year.

"However, we would urge them to respect the legislation and government guidance, which prevents large groups of people meeting in one place, and find other ways of enjoying the Bank Holiday."

The statement continued: "As well as breaching the rules they could put themselves and other people at risk of injury and could add to the burden of emergency services, in particular the NHS.

"There will be police patrols in the area, as well as other key beauty spots in Gloucestershire, and we will continue to engage with those seen to be breaching regulations and ignoring guidance.

"We will, as always, explain our reasons and encourage people to return home but will use enforcement, if necessary, against anyone who refuses to co-operate."

Photos by Paul Nicholls.