Cheshire's Sandstone Trail is arguably the finest and best loved middle distance walk in North West England. The Trail follows the elevated ridge of sandstone hills that rise dramatically above the Cheshire plain, a central backbone with the River Weaver to the east and the broad Dee basin to the west. The journey takes you through this essentially green county from the broad Mersey estuary to rural north Shropshire, a distance of 34 miles.
Along the way you will experience the very best of Cheshire: ever changing views and lofty panoramas over Wales and the Pennines; wooded escarpments; sandstone cliffs; viewpoints and caves; undulating oak-dotted pastures and farmland; vast and ancient, sun-dappled Delamere Forest; prehistoric hillforts; dramatic medieval and Victorian castles; half timbered black-and-white and sandstone manor houses; farms and historic inns; Roman roads, sunken green lanes, packhorse routes, saltways and old coach roads; tranquil rivers, streams and rural canals, mosses and meres, heathlands and heather. Abundant wild flowers and wildlife can also be seen along the Trail, from bluebells and bilberries to buzzards and barn owls brown hares and butterflies.
The Trail is reasonably easy to walk, the most demanding short steep sections being at Frodsham, Beeston Castle, Higher Berwardsley, Rawhead and Bickerton. If you are an experienced trail walker the route can be completed in two days with an overnight stop near Tarporley. If you prefer a more leisurely pace a three day trip allows plenty of time for sightseeing and relaxing breaks, with overnight stops near Kelsall and Berwardsley dividing the route into sections of fairly equal length. It is also easy to tackle parts of the route at different times as there are numerous access points and waymarked side paths linking to towns, villages, pubs and cafes along the way.
The highest point on the Trail is at Rawhead, near Bickerton, rising to 227 metres. The total ascent along the whole Trail is 1268 metres. For most of the way the Trail follows Cheshire's wooded sandstone ridge with numerous splendid viewpoints out across the Cheshire Plains from small rocky outcrops which act as viewing platforms. The section through Delamere Forest Park follows surfaced forest tracks and paths. The central section of the Trail incorporates several attractive sections of ancient green lane. Between the hills there are sections of undulating farmland, scattered farms and hamlets, streams, copses and flooded marl pits. The southern Shropshire section follows the Llangollen arm of the Shropshire Union Canal into Whitchurch. The Trail is well waymarked using a mixture of finger posts and yellow waymark discs using an image of an ‘S’ in a footprint. There are also a number of information boards placed along the route.
Beginning from Frodsham places along the route include Manley Common, Gresty's Waste, Tarporley, Burwardsley, Larkton Hall and Willeymoor Lock. Other villages very close to the Trail are Mouldsworth, Hatchmere, Kelsall, Beeston Brook, Higher Burwardsley, No Man's Heath and Grindley Brook. Because the route follows the sandstone ridge there are few facilities actually on the trail; most pubs, cafes and shops are a short distance off the route.
There is no doubt that walking the Sandstone Trail is a rewarding way to spend a long weekend and you will probably leave with a desire to return and enjoy the paths and places you did not have time to explore and to get to know the area more intimately; the circular walks guide is ideal for this purpose. We do recommend that you purchase the official guide by Tony Bowerman which is a beautifully produced book which contains absolutely everything you need to know to plan and walk the Sandstone Trail. It even includes OS Explorer mapping of the whole route, so you do not need to purchase any maps separately.
© Copyright 2000 - 2014 Walking Pages Ltd. and its associates. All rights reserved