Rolling fields and Hawthorn bushes covered in white flowers frames by the entrance to a cave
Cheshire Challenge, Walk

Cheshire Challenge walk 22 – North Cheshire Way, Sandstone Trail and Weaver Way

After our big walk, this was to be a nice short 20km.  Huh, never thought I’d write that a few months ago! 

The walk picks up a section of the North Cheshire Way, Sandstone Trail and a little of the Weaver Way.  This corner of Cheshire around Frodsham and Helsby has quite a few overlapping paths which makes the route planning a bit tricky and a minor detour was needed so I could fully tick off a section of the North Cheshire Way.

We started at Frodsham station, the route is a wiggly circular taking in the sandstone ridge with big views over the Mersey and a section along the river Weaver which was engineered to be navigable in 1732.  The weather was gloriously sunny so I bravely left my waterproof trousers at home and took sunscreen and a hat instead.  Leaving kit behind always makes me a tad nervous, especially waterproofs even though the forecast was sunny all day and I was such a short distance from home rescue was only a call away; but nervousness is a good prompt to make me check if I am really sure I should leave something behind or not.

Leaving the station, the route walk hugs the bottom of the ridge, slowly climbing up through the trees.  It’s a very pretty place to walk and lovely to explore the many paths among the broadleaf woods and sandstone outcrops some with ornately carved graffiti from over a century ago.

But we were on a mission and joined the North Cheshire Way at an impressively solid flight of stone steps.  The route continues to hug the wooded hillside for a couple of kilometres then pops back out into the sunshine heading for Helsby.  After a steep climb through more woods, we came to the top of the cliffs above Helsby.  A haunt of local climbers, its often soft, friable sandstone is not to be underestimated and requires significant brave-pants to be worn on the harder grades.

At the top of Helsby hill is a trig, which we visited on walk 6 so we gave it another hug (all trigs need a hug) and stopped for a snack.  The North Cheshire Way now follows the same tracks as the Longster Trail for a few hundred metres before heading south and on paths I have already logged in the challenge.  A very short stretch on the Longster Trail, again already logged, and the route switches to follow the track of the Sandstone Trail.  The strategically placed Spirit of the Herd pony sanctuary’s cake stall was too much temptation to resist and having discussed in depth our plans to eat a little better on our walks we stuffed our selves with fudge and brownies.  Well its for a good cause and very delicious.

The Sandstone Trail is one of, if not the best waymarked path so far on the challenge and the map was forgotten until we got to Baker’s Dozen, a flight of steel steps from Dunsdale Hollow which replaced the very worn Jacob’s ladder steps carved into the sandstone.  It was here we took a short detour to pick up the North Cheshire Way before retracing our steps under the cliffs covered in carved graffiti, some dating back hundreds of years.  Now officially counting towards the North Cheshire Way, the route popped out at the memorial high above Frodsham with more long views to North Wales and Liverpool.

Now the walk headed down off the ridge and into lush meadows and arable fields before arriving at the banks of the river Weaver.  Canada geese, moorhens and mallard ducks were abundant in the reeds in the banks and a long-abandoned lock.  At the road bridge we headed back into town and ate even more cake sat in the sun.  Perfect!

Video of the walk HERE

The route is available on the Ordnance Survey website HERE

Cheshire Challenge distance15.8km
Path walkedNorth Cheshire Way, Sandstone Trail and Weaver Way
Total distance20km
Total ascent609m
OS mapOS Explorer 267
Date walkedMay 2021
Time taken6 hours 20 minutes
CakeKit Kat blondie from Spirit of the Herd AND cherry sponge cake!
Dance pose90’s rave…
Total Cheshire Challenge distance completed:385km (1500km total)
The stats
Cheshire Challenge, Walk

Cheshire Challenge walk 5 – Sandstone Trail & Eddisbury Way

This walk on a lovely sunny August day was the other half to walk 1, repeating the connecting path. This time I met with the awesome Sarah Williams of Tough Girl Challenges, we parked our cars and, without our usual greeting of a hug, we set off.

The Sandstone trail is well trodden and with plenty of waymarks the navigation is easy, meaning we could natter the whole time without paying attention to where we were heading.  The sun was warm and we quickly reached the turning point.

The route turns west and follows field edges then large open grazing land.  This is not a named route and the waymarks sparse, so more care was needed on the navigation.  Lots of temporary fencing for dairy cattle divided the fields, making the route of the public right of way unclear and uncomfortable for a short section.  The GPS came in useful to confirm that the path was correct as a number of electric fences needed to be crossed: a bit of team work, walking poles and good flexibility was required.  Rich grassy field, the result of the muck spreading encountered on walk 1 took us past the trees of Hoofield covert.

We picked up the Eddisbury Way following a thick hedge before popping out onto Hoofield Lane and into the village of Hoofield.  Passing out of Hoofield more navigation confidence was needed to cross a poultry farm and into thickly planted maize.  It was reasonably easy to walk down the lines of maize holding our arms in front of our faces to keep the leaves away from our eyes.  A short stretch along the busy A51 took us on the Dutton Mill were it was time to leave the Eddisbury Way and head back.  The footpath passes through a final farm sweet with the smell of cows and a final trudge up the road back to the cars.

Video of the walk HERE
The route is available on the Ordnance Survey website HERE

Cheshire Challenge distance11km
Paths walkedSandstone Trail and Eddisbury Way
Total distance19.2km
Total ascent146m
OS mapLandranger 257
Date walkedAugust 2020
Time taken5 hours
Cakefruit sponge
Dance poseHip hop
Total Cheshire Challenge distance completed100km
Stats table
A large solitary tree in a grassy field
Cheshire Challenge, Walk

Cheshire Challenge walk 1 – Eddisbury Way & Sandstone Trail

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.

A woman in walking kit hugging a large oak tree
Tree hugger!

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.

A selfie by a small waterfall
Tempting to paddle but we had walking to do

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 distance10.85km
Paths walkedEddisbury Way, Sandstone Trail
Total distance18.7km (including diversion)
Total ascent238m
OS mapOS Explorer 257, 267
Date walked14th June 2020
Time taken5 hours
Total Cheshire Challenge distance completed10.85km (1500km total)
Walk stats