With 368 km of public rights of way there are plentiful ways to explore the Sandstone Ridge on foot, taking in some of the most beautiful scenery and views in Cheshire.
Whether you are up for walking the entire length of the 55 km long Sandstone Trail, or are looking for a shorter circular walk for you and your family, the Sandstone Ridge has a walking trail for everyone.
To inspire you and help begin your exploration of the Ridge, four circular walks are included below with route information and points of interest you can find along the way.
A circular walk around Helsby Hill and Woodhouse Hillfort: This popular half-day circuit takes you to two of Cheshire's loveliest prehistoric hilltop enclosures. Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views from the rocky summit of Helsby Hill with its ancient defences, before crossing the valley to the tumbled ramparts of Woodhouse hilltop enclosure, high on Cheshire's sandstone Ridge. Together, they provide the focus for a perfect walk.
Start: Helsby Quarry car park. Distance: 7.5 km (4.75 miles). Time: 3-3.5 hours. Difficulty: Easy-medium.
A circular walk around Eddisbury and Kelsborrow Hillforts: This long half-day or full day loop explores two contrasting mid-Cheshire hill forts. Eddisbury is the largest and most complex of the Ridge's prehistoric hilltop enclosures, while similar Kelsborrow overlooks the lovely wooded combe of Boothsdale with its hidden pub. Together with a Roman road, Saxon bush, and medieval hunting lodge, they make for a fascinating circuit.
Start: Linmere (Delamere Forest). Distance: 13 km (8 miles). Time: 4.5-6 hours. Difficulty: Medium.
A circular walk around Beeston Crag: This short, intriguing circuit explores the ancient landscape between Beeston Castle and the Peckforton Hills. Discover Beeston Crag's prehistoric past and spectacular views, before circling Victorian Peckforton Castle high on the wooded Peckforton Hills, and then crossing the fields near Peckforton mere. Along the way are a sacred spring, the "Big Oak", and a prehistoric lakeside enclosure. Start: Beeston Castle car park. Distance: 6 km (3.75 miles). Time: 3-3.5 hours. Difficulty: Easy-medium.
A circular walk around Maiden Castle, Bickerton: This short but spectacular circuit explores the very best of arguably the finest section of Cheshire's Sandstone Ridge. Ascend through purple heather and bilberries to the ramparts of Maiden Castle hillfort. Admire stunning views across the Dee Valley to the Welsh Hills, drop down through open birch woods, then circle back through sandy lanes via the picturesque settlement of Brown Knowl.
Start: Pool Lane National trust car park. Distance: 5 km (3 miles). Time: 2-2.5 hours. Difficulty: Easy-medium.
The Sandstone Trail
For those who like a tougher challenge why not try the Sandstone Trail — one of the finest and most popular long distance walks in north-west England. The route stretches for 55 km (34 miles) from the ancient market town of Frodsham on the banks of the Mersey Estuary in the north, to Georgian Whitchurch in rural Shropshire, to the south.
You don't have to tackle the route in one go. The Trail has been split into three sections of 18-19 km or about 11 miles which provide an enjoyable day's walk:
The Sandstone Ridge has a number of other longer distance paths you can try out:
Whitegate Way — A 10 km / 6 mile gentle walk from the heart of Winsford to Cuddington along a former railway line which once took goods trains laden with salt to join the Chester-Manchester line.
Eddisbury Way - A 27km / 17 mile route from Frodsham, following rights of way and quiet roads, it passes over Manley Common, visits Kelsall, Weetwood Common and Duddon before joining the Sandstone Trail on the Peckforton Hills at Burwardsley.
Baker Way — A 21 km / 13 mile path linking the heart of Chester with Delamere Forest Park.
Delamere Way — A 34 km / 21 mile route following rights of way and quiet roads from Frodsham to Warrington via Delamere Forest Park.
Delamere Loop — A multi user route runs from partway along the Whitegate Way round in a circle, taking in Delamere Forest, Primrosehill Wood, and Little Budworth Country Park, covering 34 km / 21 miles in total.
Longster Trail — A 16 km / 10 mile route from Helsby Hill via Barrow to Piper's Ash Chester.
North Cheshire Way — The North Cheshire Way is one of Cheshire's newest and longest paths. It provides 113 km / 70 miles of waymarked walking from Wirral to the Peak District across some of Cheshire's most beautiful countryside. It crosses the northern area of the Sandstone Ridge along Helsby and Frodsham Hills.