5 places to enjoy the outdoors in Cheshire this spring
Visit Chester & Cheshire
- Credit: Nick Holmes
Begin the year by connecting with the true nature of Cheshire.
With the excitement and often chaos of the festive season behind us, it’s time to make a fresh start for 2022.
We may be guilty of being anchored to our devices, binging on must-watch streaming, and monitoring our social feeds too often, so a new year is a chance to embrace fresh experiences and changes to our habits, and Cheshire is the perfect place to escape the everyday and get reacquainted with nature.
Being outdoors has been scientifically proven to make us healthier and happier. Getting out in nature can help us deal with anxiety and stress, improve our focus, and even lower blood pressure.
Cheshire has abundant green spaces, forests and waterways to take a break away from gadgets and fall in love with nature again.
Here are a few of the places to get out and explore this new year, recommended by the team at Visit Chester & Cheshire
The Lovell Quinta Arboretum
The Lovell Quinta Arboretum in Swettenham has a fascinating history that provides a timely reminder of the balance between tech and nature. Renowned physicist Bernard Lovell, of the telescope fame, found great peace among nature and would collect trees, plants and saplings from around the world, planting them on the property at Swettenham to become the arboretum we know today.
Lovell Quinta is home to a colourful range of around 2,500 different plants including snowdrops, crocus and daffodils in the spring, as well as trees and shrubs. A tranquil place of grassy walks and leafy arbours, the arboretum is home to a wide variety of wildlife and makes the perfect destination to switch off and enjoy nature.
What’s more, the arboretum is the only location in Cheshire taking part in the Silent Space scheme (silentspace.org.uk ) an initiative set up by garden writer Liz Ware, in which gorgeous green spaces allocate time and space to simply be silent.
Tatton Park is a superb option to explore nature. Located just a stone's throw away from the vibrant town centre of Knutsford, there are 1000-acres of stunning parkland to traverse. With so much space, you will be sure to find some tranquillity, whether among the vast open spaces, shady woodland, or gazing over the mere.
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There are hundreds of species of trees, valued for their natural beauty, the wildlife they support, and their importance in the landscape – you really feel at one with nature as you gaze upon a hundreds-year old oak.
Tatton is also a forager’s paradise, with a whole host of wild plants and fungi. And as well as reconnecting with plant life, there are roaming deer and sheep as well as other woodland critters such as squirrels and numerous birds to admire.
You can get lost and reconnect with nature in both the parkland and the magnificent, curated gardens that span 50 acres, with hundreds of species of plants.
A couple of miles out from the hustle and bustle of Chester’s city centre is Chester Zoo. This much-loved attraction is a haven for wildlife of all kinds and although a busy tourist destination, offers a chance to really reconnect with nature.
Getting acquainted with the 20,000 and more animals that call the zoo home emphasises the importance of wildlife to our planet, and while it may be tempting to snap a selfie with some of these majestic creatures, we encourage you to take a beat to observe and learn about the inhabitants.
Chester Zoo serves as a crucial reminder of the special place wildlife has in our lives, both personally and globally, and visiting and supporting the attraction aids the ongoing conservation works that preserves natural habitats and saves the natural world.
As well as the animal menagerie, the zoo is home to 128-acres of zoological gardens. You can find some quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of life among a vast array of tropical, rare, and exotic plant life that supports the local ecosystem.
Macclesfield Forest and the Cheshire Peaks
Macclesfield Forest is a magnificent space to explore the outdoors. What you see today are the remnants of the Royal Forest of Macclesfield, a once-extensive ancient hunting reserve.
The roughly 400-hectare forest, bordered by two of Cheshire’s highest peaks, Tegg's Nose to the northeast and Shutlingsloe to the southwest, is set around the Ridgegate and Trentabank reservoirs, the latter being a much-loved wildlife reserve.
Once a hunting ground, Macclesfield Forest is now home to the largest heronry in the Peak District and there’s plenty of wildlife including mandarin ducks, red deer and stoats.
The forest lies on the edge of the Cheshire Peak District, which encompasses nearly 100 square miles of inspiring scenery that includes the world-renowned Peak District National Park.
The area also includes the Gritstone Trail, a 35-mile walking route taking in wild moorland, rocky outcrops, impressive peaks and breathtaking scenery.
There’s an abundance of natural beauty to explore, from the crested views of Mow Cop and Kerridge Hill, to the epic Gritstone Trail and vistas surrounding Rainow, making the Cheshire Peaks a must to explore and find yourself in the natural environment.
The Sandstone Ridge
Above the expanse of the Cheshire Plain, you can find the Sandstone Ridge. This 230-sqkm landscape is rich in heritage, archaeology, wildlife and culture. It’s little surprise the Ridge was recently shortlisted for Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty status when you traverse the landscape to find peaks with panoramic views, serene forestry and vast heathland.
This celebrated landscape provides a home for a wide variety of plant and wildlife with everything from purple heathers, yellow gorse and green bilberries to colourful wildflowers, native birds and more. With such an expanse, there’s plenty of room to explore and find a spot for quiet reflection.
One of the most popular aspects of the Sandstone Ridge is Delamere Forest. Once the Royal Forest of Delamere, the forest now provides a number of excellent walking routes through the serene woodland. To really experience the essence of the Ridge, we recommend walking up Old Pale Hill.
Once you reach the summit, you’ll experience panoramic views of the plain below and much farther afield including the Clwydian Range, the Mersey Estuary and Liverpool and the iconic Lovell Telescope. Technology is literally and figuratively far away when you experience the views from atop Old Pale.
Chester, Designed by Nature
It’s not just Cheshire’s scenic locales that are perfect for reconnecting with nature. Thanks to a grant from the European Regional Development Fund, the Destination Chester collective has launched the Chester, Designed by Nature project.
Aimed at helping us to embrace and explore the world that surrounds us through a free programme of art, activities, performance, storytelling and amazing large-scale sculptural interventions, Chester, Designed by Nature has already seen success through The Nest and The Roving Moon.
The new year means new life and Spring Blooms – the third phase of the project – is an opportunity to celebrate that with work and activities around ideas of gardening, growing food, rewilding, recycling and sustainable travel, placing the natural world at the very heart of our daily lives.
There will be more exciting activities and events in Chester as part of the project to help you reconnect with nature in the heart of our bustling city.
These are just a few suggestions, and there is plenty more room to explore, and help you relax and reconnect with nature across Chester and Cheshire this year. See visitcheshire.com for the latest ideas and events.