8 things to do with the family in Cheshire
- Credit: Lisa Nevin
I started my website alwaysonthego.co.uk during the first lockdown, documenting our adventures to help families get outdoors (and also to give me a distraction from the horrors of homeschooling). I'm a firm believer in the benefits of the outdoors for everyone's physical and mental health, no matter what your age. Everything on there is easily manageable for young children but could be used by all ages and really showcases the best our area has to offer.
Here are my top picks for you. I hope they will inspire you and your family to get out and explore.
The Whitegate Way is a six-mile traffic-free multi-use path running between Winsford and Cuddington on the edge of Delamere Forest. It follows a disused railway branch line that closed in 1963. It’s flat, wide and straight, making it perfect for little cyclists, walkers and wheelchair users.
The train line that once ran on the Whitegate Way, opened in 1870 and transported salt from the salt works around Winsford across to Cuddington. Halfway along the old railway line is the main access point where you’ll find a large, free car park, toilets and a quaint charity-run café.
From here you can either cycle three miles west to Cuddington, which is probably the more forested side, or in the opposite direction, three miles east to Winsford – so manageable distances for younger children. Or of course, you could really push them and do the full 12 miles.
This is a fantastic ride along the Cheshire side of the Dee Estuary following the National Cycle Network route 568, running from Hawarden Bridge all the way to Neston on the Wirral. The path runs parallel to the salt marshes of the Dee, meaning there are great views across to North Wales.
It’s a multi-use path so would be just as good for a walk as it is a cycle. The majority of the route is off-road, on wide flat paths, but some sections are on roads, albeit very quiet ones and we’ve always felt very comfortable taking our three children on them. The highlight of the route is a raised wooden boardwalk, which is so much more exciting to ride on than Tarmac.
If the bike ride hasn’t tired the kids out, then a walk in nearby Burton woods or an expedition out onto the salt marshes are nice add-ons.
If there was an Oscar for best village park then Bunbury would get my vote. It was created in 2016 so all the wooden equipment still looks really new.
As with all good parks, there’s something for all ages. For younger children, there are swings, a tractor, a play frame, roundabout and a little rocking boat. For older kids there’s a tyre swing, play frame with various ropes and ladders, a bird's nest swing, balance logs and a zip wire.
Hidden in the trees behind the play equipment is a lovely little wooden kitchen play area, with a table, chairs, a cooker and a sink, where my kids love to make grass concoctions. A bike track runs the perimeter of the park’s large field so bikes and scooters are a must. My only complaint is there isn’t a toilet and you can guarantee they’re going to need it the minute you arrive.
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The Carrs is a huge park near central Wilmslow with a network of riverside walking paths, as well as large open grassy areas and woodland. There is a choice of two car parks stationed at either end, both of which get very busy, so be warned. We normally park in the Twinnies Bridge car park and walk the scenic one-mile river route down to the main park.
The large playground is probably better suited to younger children, although there’s still enough to occupy the older ones. There are also some tennis courts (which are free to use), a skate park and an adult exercise area, which, as with most parks, seems to be mainly used by kids, not adults.
The walking paths around the park are fantastic and if you have time, try the walk to Quarry Bank Mill following the course of the River Bollin.
The Ice Cream Farm
The amount of time I spend here, I should probably just move in. I can remember the Tattenhall Ice Cream Farm as a child when it used to just sell ice cream and had a few cows to look at, but following a multi-million-pound investment in 2015, it's a whole day out with a large indoor sand and water play (bring a change of clothes) – the Fun Factory soft play, which is fantastic for all ages, and Rocky Road the off-road driving experience in replica mini Land Rovers – I could go round on them all day.
The outdoor playground, Daisy’s Garden, looks is straight out of Teletubby land and will entertain the kids for ages. Your children will love you for taking them here.
In the depths of the south-west Cheshire countryside, this privately owned castle sits in 70 acres of parkland. The castle itself is closed to the public, but the gardens are open for the summer months and for set days in October. They are simply stunning – from the beautiful Temple Garden with its two-island lake to the woodlands of Tower Hill.
Children are very welcome to roam around and there are two great play areas for them: The Den, which is hidden behind the tea rooms and is a small area of gnarly old trees, little wooden seats, and a bug hotel, and the main playground on the outskirts of the main garden, which has swings, climbing frames and a zip wire.
There’s a cute little tea room serving light lunches, but if you’re after something bigger try the Cholmondeley Arms down the road, it’s my favourite Cheshire pub.
Situated just outside Kelsall, Primrose Wood is actually a detached part of Delamere Forest, but it’s much quieter and less visited than its bigger neighbour, so it’s an excellent choice if you want to avoid the crowds. There’s a forest road that runs throughout the wood so it’s a great choice for pushchairs and prams, but there are also some excellent forest paths to go off and explore.
The woods are beautiful and there are lots of opportunities to build dens, climb trees and collect an abundance of pine cones, always top requirements on our walks. If you’re lucky the kids might spot some horses on the adjacent equestrian centre.
I’ve been coming to Helsby Hill since I could walk and I never tire of it. Roughly located between Chester and Warrington you've probably all spotted the large sandstone outcrop from the M56, next to its neighbour, Frodsham Hill.
At 141 metres high the views from the top are fantastic and at just over two kilometres the circular walk to the top is a nice distance for little legs but with enough interest for all the family. But there are two other adjacent woodlands that are often overlooked: Helsby Quarry Nature Reserve sits next to the main hilltop car park but is worth a diversion to see an amazing sandstone tunnel little ones love running in and out of.
Harmers Wood, another quarry turned woodland, is just behind the hilltop and the walk down into the main quarry will feel like a real adventure for the kids.