North West: Cheshire - sandstone trail

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 waterfall 31 Aug 2021

I am thinking about doing the full length of this from Frodsham to Whitchurch this Saturday

Has anyone done it before, any tips or takeaways you could share?

I guess I am interested in the terrain, navigation, difficulty etc

thanks in advance as always


In reply to waterfall:

I did it a couple of years ago, one hot Whit week. I took more than a day over it so I could enjoy it, I wouldn't want to do it in one day at all now I have experience of it. FWIW, the sign posting can be a bit hit and miss, take the guide book with maps in it. There are several interesting sections, Frodsham, Peckforton, Bickerton, but several tedious linking sections through boring farmland. The last long section from the foot of Bickerton, through the grounds of Michael Owen's racing stud, was quite boring. The last section along the canal is quite interesting. I left Frodsham around 12.30 pm, had lunch in the pub on the way up the hill to the viewpoint, walked as far as the canal and took a detour to spend the night at the camp site at The Shady Oak pub. The next section was the best, in the early morning of the next day. I got as far as the canal and had a nice meal in the pub there, before bivying on the canal tow path (despite what the guide says there are no camp sites on or very close to the route apart from the one mentioned). Walked the last few miles into Whitchurch the next morning for breakfast and to get the train home. Getting water on the route was a bit of an issue but if you do it in a day you will probably manage.

In reply to waterfall:

I used lightweight Salomon walking boots but it was very dry so could have done it in approach shoes. It's not hard terrain, very few steep slopes. As I said, the trail signposts are always obvious.

 1philjones1 31 Aug 2021
In reply to waterfall:

There’s a car park behind the sports centre/library in Frodsham that is probably better than leaving your car on Main Street, which may be tricky on a Saturday.  Navigation is very easy and well signed, starting from outside the Bears Paw pub. Don’t miss the right turn up steps and an alleyway as you go up the hill.
Terrain is mainly dry (currently), but rough tracks through forest/fields with very little on road. Boots aren’t necessary, unless you want to, but good walking shoes/approach shoes are essential. The first 2/3rds (Frodsham to beyond Bickerton) is much nicer than the last 1/3 IMO, which is fields and canal towpath. There are no real tough sections (if you do a lot of mountain walking) but a few short/sharp drags up and lots of rolling low hills and fields. The main difficulty is the sheer distance (and dullness of the last 10 miles!)
You don’t pass any shops that I can recall but don’t carry too much water/food etc on the first section as you’ll pass the new  Delamere Forest centre (and cafe) after about 7 (?) miles where you can get a good feed, buy drinks and stock up.
There’s a great little cafe that you pass at Beeston Castle, where you can get more supplies. There’s also a garage by the canal not long before you get into Whitchurch.

It’s a great day out- hope you enjoy it.

 waterfall 31 Aug 2021

thanks, going to give do it in new La Sportiva TX4 (worn in already a little) as want to give them a good run out

Other alternative is my Salomon X Ultra 4 Mid boots, but as mentioned above want to give the TX4 a whirl

Are there any sections that are going through farm land, I am likely to encounter cattle?  I am doing it solo to get some distance / speed in before the Isle of Arran in a few weeks

 1philjones1 31 Aug 2021
In reply to waterfall:

TX4’s are perfect. And yes, you’re likely to pass through some fields with cattle.

 waterfall 31 Aug 2021
In reply to 1philjones1:

cheers, just reviewing the sections via the website now, has some good detail

 stubbed 01 Sep 2021
In reply to waterfall:

I did it in one day, but the other direction, Whitchurch to Frodsham. It was a wet start but we had some friends meeting us to bring clean shoes so we could change once it stopped (we are local, in fact the path goes past a mile from my house).  We walked for 13 hours in total, didn't really stop much. There is a loo at Beeston castle - you would need to go in - and in Delamere Forest. We met cows and farm dogs but nothing too serious. I wore a couple of pairs of trainers rather than walking boots. Lots of people run it. I don't think I would do the whole length again but higher parts are good.

 steveriley 01 Sep 2021
In reply to waterfall:

I've done it a few times and my club organise a race/walk over it every (normal!) year. I've always done in S-N as it gets the duller stuff out of the way early (and is more like running home). It's a great outing and a good feeling to cover the entire length of an OS map. Not many food drink options but depending on your timings, there's a caff at Stonehouse farm just before Delamere, Delamere itself a short distance off the trail, Shady Oak is just off the trail and there's another coffee stop at Beeston Castle itself.

Signage has gradually improved if you keep an eye out for the yellow discs (easier at walking pace!) Best bits for me are around Frodsham, Beeston, Rawhead, and Bickerton. Yes to cattle (and maybe Llamas) and some soggy bits. I've always done it in trainers. Early start to make the most of daylight? Enjoy!

 waterfall 02 Sep 2021

yes thinking of a 6 am start to keep the daylight

hopefully not too much cattle, some recent encounters with some young male cows has put me off!

Thinking I will pack enough food but then if pass a cafe, grab some there and then, hoping to keep light for obvious reasons

thanks for all the tips and advice, will report back on process!

 Qwertilot 03 Sep 2021
In reply to waterfall:

If you're used to walking in 'random' Cheshire farmland, the Sandstone trail is about a million times easier. The paths actually exist and are wide, no nav needed, nice gates rather than hopeless stiles etc etc.

The trail goes through loads of very nice deciduous woodland so I suspect really lovely in Spring/Autumn.

The public transport is a bit annoying really. Good at either end but the S stretch to reach Whitchurch is, as noted, a real drag - there just isn't anywhere else to finish it. Ditto for splitting it really, unless you want to walk down the Canal to Chester.
(or stay over of course.).

Plenty of circulars to be had in the N stretches at least

 JamButty 03 Sep 2021
In reply to waterfall:

not done it in a day which is my plan,  but we poshed it up over a few days with pub overnight stays.

Its generally a lovely route,  quite varied,  but you will encounter farmers fields,  cattle and corn fields.  There is actually quite a bit of height gain but nothing too bad.

Navigation generally fine,  but sometimes signage is missing.

Beeston castle let you use their toilets,  the cafe outside is a bit crap,  but there's Delamere Visitor Centre almost en route,  as well as a cafe at Manley as you leave Delamere. Take those opportunities to get water etc.

We did it S-N,  as others have said the Whitchurch end is a bit dull

Have fun....

Post edited at 12:53
 waterfall 08 Sep 2021

quick write up below!

A mate said he wanted to do it with me late on in the week, decided to push the start time back to 8 am, anyways he pulled out last minute so my early start was delayed somewhat and I was back to solo!

Ended up doing 20 miles in about 5 hours 45 mins, average pace about 3.5 miles per hour.  Got bad blisters from La Sportiva TX4's on both heels, won't be wearing them again for that sort of distance that's for sure, so decided to can it, as off to isle of arran this weekend.

Navigation:  easy, great signage along most of the route, had to come off at some point due to some young cows in a very tight strip of field that I didn't fancy!

Delamere was a highlight for me, view from Beeston Castle great as well.  Nice and quiet on the trail. Little disappointed that I didn't complete but couldn't be bothered cutting my feet up any further, in my head I knew I had Arran walking to do so didn't want to risk!

Post edited at 22:12

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