Retrospectively, this was the first Cheshire Challenge walk. I had mulled over the idea and this walk was specifically planned to walk along two named paths though I had not yet named it the Cheshire Challenge. It was just two weeks since the Covid-19 lockdown had lifted and I was able to meet Jo and walk all day: it felt so good to be out again beyond the now very familiar paths around my home.
The Eddisbury Way starts above Burwardsley and ends in Frodsham, it runs broadly parallel to the better-known Sandstone Trail so with a little careful planning a series of circular walks are an ideal way to walk both paths. I made a rookie error on this walk, aside from the detour due to the path being closed, I missed the very start of the Eddisbury Trail. Its just a few hundred meters at most BUT for completeness I will have to go back and walk it at some point.
The Eddisbury Way is reasonably well waymarked, but as it is less popular its not quite as well trodden and clear as the Sandstone Trail. After hugging a very splendid oak tree by the first stile we set off across the fields. It is mostly flat here and the walking was easy on legs now unfamiliar to the distance but any complaints from feet were drowned out by the long views and glorious sunshine. There are sections of road walking, though it is all along quiet single track roads so we were only passed by the occasional car or cyclist. Where we were due to head back onto the field tracks we were met with a sign. Not a good sign. A path closed sign. Works on the railway meant that the path to the canal was closed so some on-the-spot route planning was required. Unfortunately, the options were limited and more road walking was required. We detoured past the closed Ice Cream farm, there is a railway crossing at the marina but its not a public right of way and with people living on the narrowboats that route was not open to us, so we carried on to the road bridge then trotted along the canal back to the point where the Eddisbury Way passes under the canal.
I love the unexpected things you find on walks, as we climbed back up we came across a stream that had carved a pool into the sandstone. Tempting though it was to have a paddle, we pushed on. We stopped for lunch in a grassy meadow taking a moment to feel the sun on our faces and sitting quietly for a while.
At the excellently named Hoofield, we waved goodbye to the Eddisbury Way and set off on a section of unnamed paths. As is often the case, the waymarks are harder to find or non-existent so a map is definitely required. The greatest excitement on this section was encountering the muck-spreader: summer footwear designed to ventilate the feet requires extremely careful foot placement and a lot of concentration to prevent definitely-not-mud soaking one’s socks!
It is impossible to miss the Sandstone Trail, the track is well worn, the waymarks are clear and many of the stiles and plank ditch crossings have been replaced with sturdy gates and bridges. It also became slightly busier as we got closer to Beeston, the upside of this being the open café and a chance to eat ice cream. After Beeston, the path moves into the steep woodland around Peckforton Castle. An unwelcome climb on tired legs was made up for with views back across the Cheshire plain as we neared the end of the walk. Had circumstances been different, we would certainly have popped into the Pheasant Inn for a much-needed refuelling but that was not to be this time.
As so commenced the Cheshire Challenge, I wonder how long it will take me to finish it?
Video of the walk HERE
The route is available on the Ordnance Survey website HERE
|Cheshire Challenge distance||10.85km|
|Paths walked||Eddisbury Way, Sandstone Trail|
|Total distance||18.7km (including diversion)|
|OS map||OS Explorer 257, 267|
|Date walked||14th June 2020|
|Time taken||5 hours|
|Total Cheshire Challenge distance completed||10.85km (1500km total)|