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Delamere Forest Walks for 2022

Delamere Forest Walks for 2022

Nestled in the Cheshire Plain, Delamere Forest is a wonderland of deciduous and evergreen trees surrounded by rolling farmland. Managed by Forestry England, the woodland is laced with some of the most scenic walking trails in the North West. It’s the perfect place to stretch your legs, clear out your lungs and recharge your batteries with the power of nature. Read on for our definitive list of Delamare Forest walks for 2021.



Escaping to Delamere Forest


While it’s just a short drive from Manchester, Delamere Forest feels worlds away from the buzz of the big city. With a sprawling footprint of almost 1000 hectares, it’s one of the largest woodlands in the county. Furthermore, Delamere Forest is also one of the last remaining pockets of the vast Forests of Mara and Mondrem, a medieval forest that once sprawled across 60-square-miles of Cheshire. Walking through the woodlands, you’ll quite literally be retracing the footsteps of medieval kings and queens. 


From family-friendly walks to challenging multi-day trails, Delamere Forest has been developed for every Brit. There are three Forestry England paths to explore within the park itself, as well as multiple long-distance trails that cut through the forest. You can walk the longer trails in sections, meaning there’s plenty of flexibility when planning a walk in Delamere. 


Ready to lace up your boots? Below, we list some of our favourite Delamere Forest hikes.



Blakemere Trail


If you’re looking for a nice walk in the woods with beautiful scenery and the chance to spot local wildlife, the Blakemere Trail will tick all your boxes. Starting at the Visitor Centre, the trail quickly ventures into the forest and winds through groves of mature oak, beech and chestnut trees. It’s gorgeous throughout the year but is especially beautiful in autumn, when the forest lights up in a sea of reds, yellows, oranges and golds. In late autumn there’s something incredibly satisfying about crunching along the trail with piles of colourful leaves underfoot. 


You’ll eventually reach Blakemere Moss, a reclaimed wetland that was drained in the 1800s and used as a plantation for growing shipbuilding timber. Towering oaks and Scot’s pines grew on Blakemere Moss for decades, though today the area has been allowed to flood and is an important habitat for native birds. Keep an eye out for coots, lapwings, mallards, black-headed gulls and Canada geese. Botanists will be thrilled with sightings of rare mosses like the copper-toned Sphagnum pulchrum. 


After looping around the lake, the trail re-joins with the one-way path back to the Visitor Centre. There’s plenty of shade along the way, making it ideal for hot summer days. However, if the weather’s not cooperating the mature trees act as natural umbrellas, meaning you can still enjoy the Blakemere Trail on a drizzly day. 


Length: 2.7 miles (follow the red markers) 

Average time to complete: 1.5 hours

Starting point: Delamere Forest Visitor Centre



Linmere Trail 


The short length and flat terrain make the Linmere Trail a family favourite. If you’re looking to get outdoors and introduce your kids to the wonders of the forest, this is a great place to start. It takes you through some of the most scenic corners of Delamere Forest, without venturing too far from the Visitor Centre. Pick up a map from the Visitor Centre before you head off. You’ll pass by the colourful Gruffalo sculpture along the way, as well as skirt the banks of Blakemore Moss. 


Length: 1.7 miles

Average time to complete: 1 hour

Starting point: Delamere Forest Visitor Centre



Old Pale Trail Loop


The toughest of the three walks within Delamere Forest, the Old Pale Trail will definitely get your step count up. This circular walk follows gravel tracks and stone paths that wind through the forest and take you up Old Pale Hill. At 176 metres above sea level, you’ll enjoy sweeping views over Delamere Forest and the Cheshire countryside. On a clear day you can even make out the Manchester skyline and even the peaks of North Wales. There are plenty of benches along the way if you need a breather. The descent takes you through woodland trails and past Blakemere Moss before looping back to the station. If you’re lucky you might spot the illusive white-faced darter, a rare species of dragonfly. 


Length: 4 miles

Average time to complete: 2 hours

Starting point: Delamere Train Station



Sandstone Trail 


If you’re looking for something a little more challenging the Sandstone Trail will test your endurance. Stretching from Frodsham in Cheshire to Whitchurch in Shropshire, the long-distance trail spans 34 miles and is one of the best walks in North West England. The path was forged in the 1970s and runs north to south along rugged sandstone ridges, cutting through Delamere Forest along the way. Most people walk the Sandstone Trail in two nights and three days, allowing for a leisurely pace. There are accommodation options to suit every budget, from camping pods and cottages to luxury farmhouse B&Bs. 


Short on time? The Sandstone Trail section from Delamere Forest to Larkton Hall is a great little walk for seasoned hikers, covering around 18 miles. As well as soaking up the energy of the ancient forest, you’ll pass by quirky landmarks like Bloody Bones Caves, a series of hillside caverns used as hideouts by thieves plundering cheese from local farms. Urchin’s Kitchen, a 30-feet-deep glacier-carved channel hidden by centuries-old trees, is another memorable landmark. 


If you’re going to tackle the mammoth Sandstone Trail, you’ll need a map, which can be found here.


Length: 18 – 34 miles

Average time to complete: 1 – 3 days

Starting point: Frodsham or Whitchurch



Shutlingsloe Peak


If views are on your radar, lace up your boots and trek to the summit of Shutlingsloe. The hill is set on the cusp of Peak District National Park and commands epic views over Cheshire and the surrounding countryside. At 3 miles it’s a great hike for kids and adults alike. Locals have nicknamed it the Matterhorn of Cheshire and while it’s 506-metre peak doesn’t quite compare to 4478-metre-high Matterhorn, it’s a great compromise. 


If you’re after something a bit longer, the Shutlingsloe Circular Walk stretches for almost 7 miles and takes you through grassy fields dotted with purple harebells. You’ll pass by ancient stone walls and old wooden barns before passing into hill country and starting to ascend up to the gritstone plains. Starting in Macclesfield Forest is a great change of scene, with the chance to spot red deer, foxes and badgers in the former royal hunting ground. 


Length: 3 – 8 miles

Average time to complete: 2- 4 hours

Starting point: Trentabank Car Park in Macclesfield Forest 



Shining Tor


At 559 metres above sea level, Shining Tor is the highest point in Cheshire and has the views to match. There are several different routes up to Shining Tor and we prefer the Goyt Valley Circuit, which covers around 7 miles of terrain. You’ll follow well-marked moorland trails and grass-covered paths, with a few steep sections to keep you on your toes. 


You’ll park at the former Cat & Fiddle Inn and follow the road towards Macclesfield before reaching a public footpath marking the way to Shining Tor. The views from the top are huge, taking in not only Cheshire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire but stretching all the way to the Clwydian Range in North Wales on a clear day. Packing a picnic lunch is a great way to make the most of your time at the summit. 


Length: 7 miles

Average time to complete: 4 – 5 hours

Starting point: Old Cat & Fiddle Inn



Delamere Way 


Another long-distance gem, the Delamere Way connects the charming village of Stockton Heath in Warrington with the market town of Frodsham. It takes you through more than 20 miles of postcard-perfect Cheshire countryside, including the enchanting Delamere Forest. The variety of the terrain is impressive, ranging from quiet country roads and woodland trails to scenic bridleways and sheep-strewn fields. Hiking the Delamere Way in one day is challenging but definitely doable with good fitness and the right footwear. Sturdy boots are a must, not only for support but also to help you crush the rocky, muddy and slippery terrain you’ll encounter. 


Yellow markers make the Delamere Way a cinch to navigate, meaning you don’t need advanced navigation skills to enjoy this long-distance trail. Best of all, there are pubs at both ends of the Delamere Way. Therefore, you can reward yourself with a pint no matter which direction you hike. Train Stations in Warrington and Frodsham make it easy to hike this trail without two vehicles. Of course, if you’re hiking with a friend and you have access to two vehicles leaving one at each end can be a good option. 


Length: 21 miles

Average time to complete: 1 day

Starting point: Stockton Heath or Frodsham



Baker Way


If you’re looking for something longer than the average walk but not quite a full-day slog, the Baker Way is ideal. The footpath runs from Chester to Delamere. It celebrates the legacy of Jack Baker, a former Cheshire County Council footpaths officer and passionate nature lover. Jack was a huge advocate for public trails in Cheshire and walking the Baker Way is an absolute honour. While mostly flat, you will encounter a few short rises along the Baker Way, most within the Delamere Forest section. 


Parts of the trail follow a historic packhorse route, with highlights including crossing an old stone bridge once used by traders. Other sections skirt the Shropshire Union Canal, which was built in the 1700s and has been affectionately nicknamed ‘The Shroppie’ by locals. It goes without saying, the Baker Way is a rewarding hike for outdoor lovers and history buffs alike. You’ll also pass right through the village of Tarvin, a great little spot for lunch or a cheeky pint.  


Length: 13 miles

Average time to complete: 5- 6 hours

Starting point: Chester or Delamere



Hatchmere Trails 


Hatchmere is one of several glacier-carved lakes dotted across the North West. Made up of open water, woodlands and peat wetlands, the lake is an important habitat for native birds, including the great crested grebe. You’ll also spot willow warblers and reed bunting nesting around the lake, as well as more than 10 species of dragonfly and damselfly. Big points if you can spot the rare hairy dragonfly, easily recognisable by its unusually hairy thorax. 


Access to Hatchmere is via The Carriers Inn on Delamere Road, which also happens to serve an excellent steak and ale pie. The garden overlooks the lake and is quite the spot for a pint in the sunshine. You can access other parts of the reserve via a small footpath off Ashton Road. While it’s tempting to stray off the trails, especially if you have the right waterproof footwear, the Cheshire Wildlife Trust does ask that you stick to the paths to protect local flora and fauna. 


Length: 1 – 3 miles

Average time to complete: 1 hour

Starting point: The Carriers Inn



The Eco-friendly Delamere Forest Visitor Centre 


A multi-million pound redevelopment project funded the construction of a state-of-the-art visitor centre which has made visiting Delamere Forest a real treat. Even if you’re not into educational exhibits, it’s worth stopping by to check out the eco-friendly features. It’s cladded in British-grown larch, topped with rooftop solar panels, fitted with a ground source heat pump and equipped with rainwater harvesting infrastructure. Forestry England says sustainability was at the heart of the design and as a bunch of nature lovers, this is incredible to hear. Great work Forestry England! 



Getting to Delamere Forest


Delamere Forest is serviced by its very own train station, making it ideal for adventurers without a set of wheels. Delamere Station is set on the fringe of the forest, a 10-minute walk to the Visitor Centre. Hourly trains run from Manchester and Chester, making it easy to get to Delamere Forest. There’s also plenty of parking if you’re planning to drive to Delamere Forest. 


Have you walked any of the trails listed? Or maybe you’d like to share your favourite route? We’d love to hear from you so go ahead and share in the comments below. If you’ve mastered Delamere and want to explore other areas outside Cheshire, check out our list of Lancashire Walks here.