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Home » About The Ridge » Rural land uses

Rural land uses

View from Sandstone Trail on Bickerton Hill-14
17 dsw
Horses near Harthill
Cow at Burwardsley 1
Sandstone Ridge Cheshire West

Local communities, landowners, farmers and estate managers have shaped the landscape of the Sandstone Ridge for centuries. This continues today supported by local authorities and organisations including the Forestry Commission, Natural England, Environment Agency, National Trust, Woodland Trust, Cheshire Wildlife Trust and Mersey Forest.

Farming remains the major land use, with livestock farming dominating the area. Recent agricultural census returns suggest some changes, however, with mixed farming increasing and a decline in dairy farms. Farm sizes are still relatively smaller than the national average. Locally, there is evidence of an increase in equestrian holdings and the numbers of horses being kept.

Woodland cover at over 13% is relatively high compared with adjacent areas. At Delamere Forest, managed by the Forestry Commission, there is more extensive broadleaved and mixed woodlands on the slopes and large blocks of commercially managed conifers on the gravelly soils to the east.

Traditional rural crafts like dry stone walling and hedgelaying continue in the area, but are rarely seen these days.

Whilst quarrying for sandstone ceased some years ago, silica sand continues to be extracted from the Delamere sand sheet. Former sand quarries provide exciting opportunities for new uses for biodiversity and recreation.

The aquifers underlying the Ridge have been exploited for centuries. Demand for water supply continues today, with water pumped from a number of boreholes for local use or for household consumption in nearby conurbations.