Best Walking Routes in Cheshire
Cheshire is a county in the northwest of England, just north of the Midlands. It shares borders with a number of other counties including Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Shropshire, as well as North East Wales.
Cheshire covers an area of 905 square miles and at the last census recorded a population of around 1 million people – many of them living in the county town of Chester.
Perhaps the county’s best-known feature is the Cheshire Plain, a vast expanse of flat plains, but there are many other landscapes in Cheshire that attract walkers for miles around.
Here are some of our favorite hiking routes, from canal and river trails to winding paths through forests and moorland.
Cheshire’s Best Hikes
Head of the Three Counties
6.2 miles/10 km | 4 hours | moderate
In England there are 68 amazing county tripoints, but perhaps none are as beautiful as Three Shires Head where Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire converge in a secluded valley in the Peak District.
Here, two bridges span the meeting of the waters, a duo of waterfalls cascading over rocks to gather in mountain-cold plunge pools. Hikers, photographers and wild swimmers all draw to this beauty spot, so it’s best to come early in the day. Enjoy an invigorating swim, a hot drink and the first rays of the summer sun before continuing your figure-eight hike.
Walking route and map of Three Shires Head
7.5 miles/12 km | 4 hours | moderate
Just 20 miles from Manchester city centre, steep Tegg’s Nose National Park represents a steep end to the Cheshire Plain, with flat fields replaced by a whole new wild landscape of steep, craggy hills, open moorland and dense and impenetrable forests.
This is where the imagination can run wild as you walk along the forest trails, with nearby place names such as Wildboarclough giving a clue to the beasts that once roamed here. Various stories link the name Tegg’s Nose to early Norse settlers, while others link it to the word teg, a name for a two-year-old sheep, with the nickname nose easily linked to the promontory at the southern end of the ridge.
Tegg’s Nose Route and Map
9.9 km/6.1 miles | 4 hours | easy–moderate
Experience stark contrasts of fire in autumn and fresh green growth in spring on this gentle walk through the ancient heart of Cheshire, stopping for a pint halfway at a cozy country pub.
Graded logging roads provide easy ways to explore the beautiful mixed forests of the Delamere Forest. Here and there your paths cross primeval ponds – atmospheric relics of the Ice Age.
Itinerary and map of Delamere Forest
5.4 miles/8.7 km | 3–4 hours | moderate
Gawsworth is home to a trinity of features that define an English village – an old church, a medieval hall and a classic pub. The church is at one end of the village center fish ponds; the old eye-catching ‘pie’ room to the next.
Such an Englishman deserves a ghost; cue the ghostly form of a lady dressed in green seen abroad in the alleyways, church and hall. She is said to be the shadow of Mary Fitton, the Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets and a member of the local nobility.
A spinney on the outskirts of the village is known as Maggoty Wood, named after Samuel “Maggoty” Johnson, England’s last professional fool or jester. He was buried in the wood in 1773 and his ghost dances among the trees. Finally, the Harrington Arms is a memorable ghost of what all village pubs must have once been.
Directions and map of Gawsworth
6 miles/9.6 km | 4 hours | moderate
Spring is the perfect time to explore the remnants of the Norman hunting forest above Macclesfield, where an abundance of woodland birds and flowers, including bluebells, will be remembered forever.
Firm tracks and trails lead you up through mixed fir and hardwood woodland to moorland-edge pastures, generously endowed with views of nearby Shutlingsloe and the Great Ridge, topped by Cheshire’s highest point, Shining Tor.
Macclesfield Forest Route and Map
Middlewood Way and Macclesfield Canal
8.5 miles/13.8 km | 5–6 hours | moderate
The Cheshire Plain ends abruptly in a jumble of steeply rising ridges and mounds in the Peak District. Along this divide are two contemporary transport arteries which today offer idyllic and easy walks or bike rides through beautiful countryside rich in wildflowers – a mosaic of forest, claws and grassland rich in industrial heritage.
At its heart is the trendy town of Bollington, which became a booming cotton town in the late Georgian era after the opening of the Macclesfield Canal in 1831. Huge mills grew up alongside this waterway that winds above the city. The imposing Clarence Mill stands at one end of a remarkable embankment and aqueduct, one of the most remarkable achievements of British canal builders.
Middlewood Way and Macclesfield Canal Pedestrian/Cycling Path
4.2 miles/6.8 km | 3 hours | moderate
Seek out the shades of past travelers along ancient tracks above the Goyt Valley on Mellor Moor on a 4.2 mile circular walk.
Directions and map of Mellor Moor
2.5 miles/4 km | 1.5 hours | moderate
At the top of the Marilyn-rated Bosley Cloud (343m), you feel on top of the world. Take in views across the Cheshire Plain – the Congleton Viaduct, Lake Rudyard and Jodrell Bank – to Greater Manchester and the Peak District that surrounds it. Follow the toposcope and spot Liverpool Cathedral 38 miles away. You can even pack the trigger point. And if there is a thin layer of snow on the patchwork, so much the better.
A 2.5 mile circular walk on the Gritstone Trail begins at Timbersbrook Picnic Site – once a silk mill, now a toad pond frequented by herons and kingfishers. Turn left onto Tunstall Lane, walk right up 365 steps through frosty woods and across moorland.
Bosley Cloud Day