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Special qualities

Road through Delamere Forest-4
Beeston Castle from Property on Horsley Lane, Cheshire 2
Sandstone Trail
Path and Sandstone Geology on Bickerton Hill 2
Bickerton Hill in August 12
Maiden Castle interpretation panel
Eddisbury Hillfort interpretation panel

The Cheshire Sandstone Ridge is a special place. Standing prominently above the surrounding plain, it is one of Cheshire's most distinctive landscapes, covering 230 sq km of rolling hills and sandstone escarpments stretching between the Mersey Valley and the county boundary with Shropshire.

The Ridge is essentially a rural landscape, providing a living for over 400 farmers and landowners, and is the chosen location of over 1,000 businesses. More than 36,000 live in the area, whilst in excess of one million visitors a year are attracted to it from Cheshire and the surrounding conurbations of Greater Manchester, Merseyside and the Potteries.

It also provides us with some of the essentials of life, such as, clean air and water, food, timber and raw materials. Furthermore, it helps to regulate our climate, stores flood waters, filters pollution, and provides opportunities for us to improve our health and happiness.

The Ridge has many special qualities that define its sense of place and distinctiveness, and make it highly cherished:

  • Breathtaking long distance and panoramic views to Merseyside, the Shropshire Hills, Peak District and Welsh Hills
  • 250 million year old Triassic sandstone outcrops and cliffs — the backbone of Cheshire
  • A refuge for wildlife and habitats including internationally important meres and mosses, and the most extensive remnants of lowland heath and sessile oakwood in Cheshire
  • Over six thousand years of human occupation, with six prehistoric hill forts, a medieval royal forest and two castles
  • Great opportunities for outdoor recreation and learning experiences, including the 55km long Sandstone Trail
  • Tranquil and unspoilt places
  • Picturesque market towns, villages and hamlets, with half-timbered black-and-white and sandstone manor houses, farms and historic inns
  • Communities with real pride in their area
  • A landscape shaped by centuries of farming, forestry and utilisation of natural resources, including ancient springs, wells and water sources, and an industrial heritage of copper mining and sandstone quarrying
  • A source of inspiration, folklore and legend

These themes are continued in Interpretation Boards at key locations across the Ridge, which help explain about the landscape and the work being done to manage its heritage. These are aimed at helping those who visit, work and live along the Ridge to appreciate the special qualities of the area.