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The best kept secret in northwest England in 3 stages — Sandstone Trail

helen@littlethorpe (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The best kept secret in northwest England in 3 stages — Sandstone Trail

Hiking Collection by Dan Hobson

3-5

days

3-5 h

/ day

35.2 mi

2,600 ft

2,350 ft

The Sandstone Trail is one of the best kept secrets in Northwest England. Boasting the kind of abundant beauty, far-reaching views, ancient history, rare wildlife and idyllic scenery you would expect from a route three times the distance, this little-praised ridge walk is a rare gem indeed.

With a leisurely yet at times challenging terrain, this middle-distance route is well-waymarked and offers unbroken and elevated hiking combined with a great mix of hill climbs, woodland walks, plus strolls through farmland, along canals and even into a few spooky caves.

The Sandstone Trail journeys for 34 miles (55 km) southwards from Frodsham, in Cheshire, to Whitchurch, in rural north Shropshire.

Some highlights along the way include: Delamere Forest, Cheshire's largest area of woodland; Beeston Castle, one of the most dramatically-sited medieval structures in England with one of the best views, too; many Iron Age forts; scientifically-important nature reserves; plus more summits than you would expect.

In this itinerary I split the Sandstone Trail into three stages, each averaging 11.7 miles (18.8 km), which makes for a lovely long weekend. Of course, you can split up each stage into as many days as you are comfortable with. You can also walk any single stage, or a couple of stages, in isolation.

Every stage finishes close to accommodation, even if there are only a few options nearby. However, places to stay are not always abundant so it's worth planning ahead.

You can hike this route at any time of year and each season offers a unique perspective on the scenery. The standard way to walk the route is as shown here. There is nothing stopping you hiking it the other direction, though. Sturdy footwear and waterproofs are recommended at all times of year. Be sure to pack sunscreen in the summer months.

If you are planning to arrive by public transport, you can catch a train to Frodsham railway station, which is served by direct trains from Manchester and Liverpool. To get home, Whitchurch railway station has direct trains to Manchester and has connecting services around the country.

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Sandstone Trail

34.7 mi

2,525 ft

2,275 ft

Last updated: November 30, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    05:09
    11.6 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,125 ft
    850 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The Sandstone Trail begins in the genteel market town of Frodsham, which has a rich history dating back to the 13th century.

    

    You climb gradually out of the town before making a short but sharp ascent through woodland to the summit of Overton Hill, which affords a fantastic view of the Mersey Estuary

    by Dan Hobson

    View
  • Difficult
    05:10
    11.8 mi
    2.3 mph
    900 ft
    825 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Castles, creepy caves, enchanting woodlands and sublime summits combine to make this a memorable stage.

    

    From Willington, the trail winds along historic back lanes, passing open farmland and small woodlands, before crossing the Shropshire Union canal at Wharton’s Lock.

    

    The trail then officially skirts

    by Dan Hobson

    View
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  • Difficult
    05:00
    11.7 mi
    2.3 mph
    575 ft
    700 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The final stage is the favourite for most hikers on the Sandstone Trail. With some jaw-dropping views over Wales, the Shropshire Hills, the Peak District and the Pennines, the beauty is abundant.

    

    From Brown Knowl, rejoin the trail at Long Lane and climb through woodland, past a hidden cave called Mad

    by Dan Hobson

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    3
  • Distance
    35.2 mi
  • Duration
    15:19 h
  • Elevation
    2,600 ft2,350 ft

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The best kept secret in northwest England in 3 stages — Sandstone Trail

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