This is one of our favourite Sunday afternoon walks. Although the route I describe isn’t the longest of walks (3.5km) there are so many other routes you can take through this fantastic woodland, so I suggest you use this as a starting point for exploring the rest of the Peckforton Hills.
Another large sandstone ridge (Cheshire seemed to be first in the queue when they were handing out sandstone!) the Peckforton Hills form part of the Mid Cheshire Ridge, a group of sandstone hills running from Frodsham in the north towards Malpas in the south, over which the famous sandstone trail (yes that again) traverses.
This is a circular walk at the top of the hill range around the grounds of Peckforton Castle Hotel. Although you don’t actually see the hotel on the walk, you’ll have probably seen it on your travels around this side of Cheshire, as like its neighbour Beeston, its turret can be seen for miles around. Although it looks like a medieval castle it was in fact built in the Victorian times (between 1844 & 1850) at a cost of £60,000, as a family home for John Tollemache, a wealthy Cheshire landowner and MP. It was in the Tollemache family until it was sold in 1988 and turned into a hotel. It’s been used as a backdrop to many films and TV shows, I recognised it in the CBBC program The Worst Witch and my daughter is desperate to go and visit once it’s reopened, although I fear she may be disappointed by a lack of witches and wizards flying around the hotel.
The starting point is at this small lay-by (see the Sat Nav link in the Info Bar), although it doesn’t hold many cars.
The first part of the walk (about 600 meters) is on a road with no pavement, but don’t let that put you off, it’s not an overly busy road and is pretty straight so it’s easy to see/hear cars coming, but do take care.
When you arrive at the entrance to Peckforton Castle Hotel, walk under the gate house
Go around the security gate (although they’d taken the gate out on my last visit) and then leave the road at this left hand path.
From here it’s an obvious path to follow but the kids will be ducking off to the sides to play in the trees, it’s a brilliant natural playground.
At the below junction, the path turns right and goes down a long steep set of steps (this is why it’s not a pushchair friendly walk!).
However it’s worth the walk down as at the bottom of here is scenic little spot which is a great area to play dens in.
Keep following the path, then at this crossroads turn right to join the official Sandstone Trail path
As an aside you can go straight on here and explore Pennsylvania woods. Another slightly more parent friendly option is to turn left here and walk up to the Pheasant Inn, this pub is in the most beautiful setting, definitely one of my favourite in Cheshire. Just keep following the Sandstone trail, but keep to the right hand path where the path forks. You’ll soon come out on Pennsylvania Lane which you just follow uphill and the pub will be on your left at the top of the road (have a look on Google Maps if you’re unclear).
Anyway, back on our route, continue on the path, if you peek over the top of the hedges there are great views out across the cheshire plain.
Also look out for a big Laurel plant on your right hand side which our kids love playing in.
When you get to Horsley Road, turn right and follow it all the way to the end where your car will be waiting for you! There are lovely views across to Beeston Castle.
Speaking of which, if you want a longer walk, you can park in Beeston Castle car park and follow the sandstone trail across a couple of fields to meet Horsley Road and do the walk from there. Have a search for the car park on Google maps and you’ll be able to see the sandstone trail marked.