Saturday 19th August 2017
Walking Cheshire’s Sandstone Trail

Lowland heath regeneration on Bickerton Hill


The National Trust’s sterling work to regenerate internationally-threatened lowland heath on the Bickerton Hills is moving into top gear. More areas of birch and other opportunist trees and scrub have recently been cleared for the hill and, even in early spring, there’s evidence of bilberry and heather recolonising the hill. And the views that once illuminated Cheshire’s central sandstone ridge — east to the Pennines and west to the Clwydian Range and Snowdonia — are steadily opening up once more.

This increasingly rare but priceless habitat supports a wealth of otherwise rare plants and animals, including unusual beetles and moths, green hairstreak butterflies, wood larks, common lizards and adders. There’s also a chance that birds that once bred on the hill, such as nightjars and even ring ouzels, may one day return.

Local opposition to this careful management plan clearly misunderstands the huge benefits of recreating lowland heath. Until grazing ceased in the 1940s, this was all open open country, and had been for centuries. As the heather, bilberry and gorse return, the hills will slowly return to their former glory. Thank Gaia for enlightened conservationists everywhere.

Written by abowerman on April 9, 2015 – 10:04 am -

Posted in Uncategorised, Wildlife | No Comments »

Intrepid Walkers from St Joseph’s Church, Sale take on the Sandstone Trail

WALKERS from St Joseph’s Church, Sale, are gearing up to tackle a 30-mile charity trek.

Forty walkers, and 24 volunteer marshals, will set out from Beacon Hill, Frodsham to walk the Sandstone Trail to Grindley Brook, near Tarporley, on May 6.

The one-day event is held every two years to raise funds for charities. This year, funds are being raised for Help 4 Heroes and the North West Air Ambulance service.


Written by abowerman on April 23, 2012 – 3:54 pm -

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Overton Hill, Frodsham in 1910

Overton Hill, above Frodsham around 1910

Overton Hill, above Frodsham around 1910

Much of Cheshire’s central sandstone ridge is wooded today. But not so long ago, constant grazing by cattle, sheep and ponies, plus the constant threat of fire, meant that Cheshire’s sandstone hills have been bare for most of their lives.

This old postcard shows Overton Hill, above Frodsham in the days before trees colonised the slopes. Only a few scant pines clothe the scarp slopes. Overton Hill was blanketed with low bilberry bushes and the hilltop was a favourite day out for local and Liverpool families who picked the purple fruit on long sunny days in late summer.

On the crest of the hill, just visible to the lefthand side of the card, are the hangar-like buildings of the old pleasure grounds. Along with the famous helter-skelter, they have gone today.

Can you remember Overton Hill in the recent past? Do let us know what it was like.

Written by jono253 on April 19, 2012 – 3:16 pm -

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Bluebells on the Sandstone Trail

Cheshire bluebells on the Sandstone Trail

Cheshire bluebells on the Sandstone Trail

Cheshire bluebells are coming into bloom in Bodnook (bird nook) Wood, below Raw Head on the Sandstone Trail.

Soon the fragrant, mauve-blue flowers will open fully and carpet the woodland floor in those few brief weeks before the trees’ leaves open fully in the canopy overhead and block the light.

Last year I spent several days there taking photographs – one or two of which will appear in the ‘almost ready’ new edition of the official guide: Walking Cheshire’s Sandstone Trail. Horses grazed in the fields below, pheasants trotted along the woodland boundaries, and the odd peacock butterfly flitted from flower to flower.

There were wood violets along the edges of the wood too, and cow parsley sprinting upwards in the hedgerows.

It’s time to visit again and see how the woods are coming along.

Written by abowerman on April 16, 2012 – 3:44 pm -

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Chester Yummy Mummys complete Sandstone Trail for charity

MEMBERS of the Chester Yummy Mummys group recently completed the 34-mile Sandstone Trail in aid of a worthwhile charitable cause.

Read more …


Written by abowerman on April 5, 2012 – 5:52 pm -

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Bat caves at Beeston Castle

Caves within Beeston Castle's grounds

Caves within Beeston Castle's grounds

A rare species of bat has recently been found in the caves below Beeston Castle.

Lesser horseshoe bats were discovered during a hibernation check by the Cheshire Bat Group in the extensive barred off caves that run beneath Ettiley Hill, immediately below Beeston Crag.

The species was last recorded in Cheshire in 1948.

Written by abowerman on March 31, 2012 – 11:21 am -

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Top 5 pubs on the Sandstone Trail

The ancient Bluebell Inn at Tushingham

The ancient Bluebell Inn at Tushingham

For walkers, pub goers and lovers of fine food and real ale, here are my all time top five pubs on Cheshire’s Sandstone Trail.

The 34 mile Sandstone Trail sticks to the wooded sandstone ridge that runs roughly north to south through rural Cheshire and north Shropshire. This lofty walk offers ever-changing views and panoramas at every turn. But even better, are the lovely country pubs and ancient inns along the way.

The winning combination of a bracing walk and a relaxing pub lunch with a couple of beers is hard to beat.

So, what are the best pubs on the Sandstone Trail?

My all time favourite five are:

Ring O’ Bells. Not far from the start of the Sandstone Trail, this homely traditional black-and-white pub, opposite St Lawrence’s Church, is halfway up Frodsham Hill. It has always been a personal favourite for its friendly atmosphere, central bar, good beer and cracking views from the car park over the Mersey Estuary, especially at night! Bellemonte Road, Frodsham WA6 6BS. 01928 732068

The Boot Inn. Cheshire’s best-hidden pub sits in a cul-de-sac combe near Kelsall. Converted from a row of cottages, it promises great food and beer, open fires, and a sunny terrace that looks out over the Cheshire countryside towards Wales. Well worth a visit. Boothsdale, Willington, CW6 0NH. 01829 751375

Pheasant Inn. High on the hills roughly halfway along the Sandstone Trail, the upmarket Pheasant Inn has views to die for. Open fires, good food, en-suite rooms, a lovely beer garden, and excellent Weetwood beers, this popular in also has a walled terrace with perhaps the finest views in Cheshire. Higher Burwardsley CH3 9PF. 01829 770434

The Sandstone. This unexpectedly great pub deserves to be far better known. Just below the Sandstone Trail on the A534 near Brown Knowl, the Sandstone pub offers a relaxed modern  take on the traditional pub, with open fires, sunny rooms, sofas, and a conservatory. Pub quizzes, bonfire nights, barbecues and superb regularly-praised menus and top food. It has superbly kept beers, too. Give it a try. Nantwich Road, Broxton CH3 9JH. 01829 782333

Blue Bell Inn. Another hidden gem, just off the Sandstone Trail near Tushingham, this half-timbered black-and-white beauty is one of the oldest pubs in Cheshire. Great atmosphere, open fires, and lovely beer and food. Track it down but don’t tell everyone. Bell O’ th’ Hill, Tushingham SY13 4QS. 01948 662172

So what are your favourite pubs on the Sandstone Trail? Add a comment below. :)

Written by abowerman on March 29, 2012 – 6:14 pm -

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The Pheasant Inn, Higher Burwardsley

Pheasant Inn, Higher Burwardsley, on the Sandstone Trail

Pheasant Inn, Higher Burwardsley, on the Sandstone Trail

Originally called The Leche’s Arms and from 1869 The Carden Arms, the picturesque Pheasant Inn at Higher Burwardsley, in Cheshire, started life as a timber-framed Cheshire farmstead built around 1580. Today, it’s one of the very best Cheshire pubs: featuring real food, real fires, real ale and a view across the Dee valley to the Welsh hills that’s to die for.

Sheltered by the Peckforton Hills and with its own spring, the Cheshire sandstone buildings probably occupy a far earlier settlement site at the junction of two long-established tracks running along and across the ridge, respectively.

This charming old photograph, taken sometime in the early 1900s, shows local children perched on the wall as their parents look on. Notice the black-and-white Friesian cattle plodding up the hill, the early motorcar, and the lofty elms opposite what was then The Carden Arms. In the slightly larger original photograph, Beeston Castle, high on its crag, peeps from the far horizon on the left.

Written by abowerman on March 25, 2012 – 9:29 pm -

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Sandstone Ridge Trust – a new charity

Trustees of the new Sandstone Ridge Trust

Trustees of the new Sandstone Ridge Trust

The Sandstone Ridge Trust is proud to announce that it has recently been approved for charitable status by the Charity Commission.

The new charitable organisation has been set up to protect and enhance the wildlife habitats and historic heritage on and around Cheshire’s Sandstone Ridge. The Ridge stretches from Frodsham and Helsby in the north part of Cheshire West and Chester right down to Bickerton Village in the south of the Borough.

Read more here

Written by abowerman on March 22, 2012 – 6:07 pm -

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Wild biking in Delamere Forest

Delamere forest //Two from Ben weir on Vimeo.

Delamere Forest is a top venue for mountain bikers.

The forest is full of unofficial tracks and downhill courses.

This very well-made video gives a great feel for what it’s like. Watch and go!

Written by abowerman on March 19, 2012 – 11:16 am -

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Posted in Get healthy, Places to visit, Things to do | No Comments »