Cheshire walk - Sandstone Trail, Frodsham

View from Woodhouse Hill

View from Woodhouse Hill - Credit: Archant

Howard Bradbury snaps some panoramic views as he goes up hill and down dale on a walk above Frodsham

Gazing down from Overton Hill on a sunny day, the riches of nature and the endeavour of mankind are all there to be seen.

Almost 60 miles away, the vague outlines of Snowdonia can be discerned, while a swathe of shimmering blue in the middle distance is the River Weaver meeting the Mersey estuary.

But also present in that vista is Fiddlers Ferry Power Station six miles away, Stanlow refinery five miles away and the never-ending thrum of traffic on the M56, competing with the pleasing cacophony of birdsong up on the hill.

Man’s impact on this landscape is now taken for granted, but it is worth remembering that before the Manchester Ship Canal was built, the tidal marshes and reed beds of the estuary reached far inland. When the canal separated this marshland from the sea 121 years ago, the wilderness was appropriated for farming and industry.

War memorial, Overton Hill.

War memorial, Overton Hill. - Credit: Archant

However it has been changed by time and progress, this remains a striking view. Yet, standing there enjoying it, you ponder how often we choose places of such majestic beauty wherein to celebrate the bleakest moments of mankind. For on Overton Hill stands a war memorial. It is fashioned from the same ruddy sandstone we see in abundance as we set off on our circular walk, taking in just a little of the 34-mile-long Sandstone Trail.

1. The walk begins at the Beacon Hill car park on Simon’s Lane (if you are using sat nav, head for Frodsham Golf Club, postcode WA6 6HE and the car park is close by). Exit the car park and turn left down Simon’s Lane, then 200 yards or so later turn left along a track, following a small yellow Delamere Way marker. At an old-fashioned lamp standard, continue straight along the grassy track and keep following the yellow markers as expansive views open up to your right and the path descends.

At the start of the Sandstone Trail

At the start of the Sandstone Trail - Credit: Archant

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2. When the path meets the road, turn left, uphill, and very soon after, pass through the ornate black and gold gates - with the legend ‘Their name liveth for ever more’ - and follow the path towards the war memorial. Enjoy that wonderful vista, and make sure you study the metal plaque which shows all the points of interest in that panorama.

3. As you look north across the Mersey estuary, take the path to your left along the edge of the hill, and at a fork soon after, head right, downhill, following signs for the Sandstone Trail and North Cheshire Way. Continue straight on across a flight of steps, following the path with rocky outcrops to your left. The sandstone is riddled with graffiti, some of it surely very old and very intricate; what chisel-wielding modern-day vandal would be so adept at calligraphy?

Impressive graffiti in the sandstone.

Impressive graffiti in the sandstone. - Credit: Archant

4. The green expanses of Frodsham Golf Club open up to your left and soon after you arrive at a three-way wooden signpost (though on my visit, one arrow, the one I was to follow, had been removed). Head right, following the sign (if it has been restored) for Delamere Forest, and go down several flights of wooden, metal and stone steps into what is known as Dunsdale Hollow. You come to a blue metal signpost at which you bear left towards Delamere, going uphill, then clambering up some steps in a cliff, skirting the edge of the golf course for several minutes.

5. The path climbs steadily to Woodhouse Hill which is another fabulous viewpoint and picnic spot. Eating my ham sandwich on the bench, I mused upon whether my ancient cousins may have gnawed on a mammoth bone while gazing out from this same vantage point. For Woodhouse Hill was a prehistoric hilltop enclosure, its four acres protected by stone ramparts. More grimly, the hill is also believed to have been a place for ritual disposal of the dead.

Ornate gates en route to the war memorial on Overton Hill.

Ornate gates en route to the war memorial on Overton Hill. - Credit: Archant

6. From the viewpoint, bear left, following the yellow arrows uphill, and at the top of the hill go straight on, then bear right following a path lined with broken-down walls. At a wooden signpost, go right, following the direction of the Sandstone Trail. Go down wide steps in the track, bearing slightly left (ignore the metal kissing gate) and continue for quite a way as the track narrows.

7. Just before a pond on your left, turn left through a metal kissing gate, walk along the right edge of the field and bear right onto a very muddy path with a view of a large white house. Just a few yards later, bear left through a metal kissing gate and follow a grassy path with a barbed wire fence to your right until you come to a metal six-bar gate across your path. Turn right following the path uphill, through another metal kissing gate and straight on up a very steep hillock. At the top, walk along the field edge to the left to reach a gate onto a road.

8. Cross over the road and walk up Riley Bank, following the road round to the left and downhill, then turn left into a track signposted ‘restricted byway’. After a few hundred yards, you reach a road at which you turn left, following a sign for another restricted byway. You then reach Manley Road. Cross over, turn right and walk up the verge for about 200 yards, turning left through a metal kissing gate following a footpath sign. You can see the estuary again clearly now. Go through another metal kissing gate, cross over the lane and up steps, following a footpath with fields and then the golf course to your left. The path emerges onto Simon’s Lane. Turn left and you are soon back at the car park.

Area of Walk: Sandstone Trail, Frodsham

Distance: 5 miles

Time to allow: 2½ hours

Map:OS Explorer 267

Refreshments: Best Western Forest Hills Hotel, Overton Hill; Bull’s Head, Bellemonte Road; Ring ‘o’ Bells, Bellemonte Road.