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The Sandstone Trail is one of Cheshire’s most famous walking routes. Over 30,000 people lace up their boots and take to the scenic route each year – with over 8000 happy dog walks too!
You don’t need to walk the entire 34-mile route to enjoy some of the trail’s historic gems. We’ve taken a look at three of some of the best historic spots you won’t want to miss, to explore some of the quirky tales they hold.
With clear views in all directions from the craggy outcrop on which it stands, it’s no surprise that Beeston was once known as the ‘Castle on the Rock’. Naturally fortified with steep cliffs, the castle was a symbol of power that lasted hundreds of years. It was considered such a threat that its partial demolition was ordered after the English Civil War to prevent further significant military use.
Interestingly, the castle’s well is believed to be one of the deepest in England and legend has it that it may be home to some hidden treasure. The story may not be as farfetched as it sounds; King Richard II was renowned for stashing bags of gold in castle wells before he left for Ireland, never to return. English Heritage has previously lowered cameras into the well, but its full depths are yet to be fully explored… The mystery remains.
While the route along the Sandstone Trail takes you past this historic site, a quick word of warning – the 1-mile climb to the top of this fortress maybe be short, but it is rather steep! If the climb is too daunting, not to worry: the view of the castle from the walking route is just as wonderful.
Beeston Castle is an English Heritage site. Click here for opening times and admission prices: www.english-heritage.org.uk
Along the Sandstone Trail, there is much mining heritage, particularly between Peckforton and Bickerton. These mines were operated intermittently between the 17th and 19th centuries. Be sure to lookout for the old mining tracks running up the East side of Bulkeley Hill and the old engine house chimney near Coomb Dale Woods (between Raw Head and Bickerton Hill).
The caves in the area, however, have a different tale to tell. Mad Allen’s Hole, near Bickerton, is one of the more spectacular caves along the Sandstone Trail – don’t be put off by the disturbing name! A local eccentric, known as Mad Allen, lived in the cave sometime around the 19th century. The cave is also believed by some to have been the home of a mysterious figure, known only as ‘the English Hermit’, who supposedly lived there for 46 years in the 18th century.
Although little remains of this Iron Age hillfort, its history gives a vivid impression of what life may have been like over 2000 years ago. Constructed in 600BC, it is thought that the fort was home to the Cornovii, a Celtic tribe who lived throughout North West England and parts of Wales.
The Sandstone Trail takes you right past the location where this impressive defensive structure once stood, and some of its remains can still be seen today.
Looking for more walks in the area? Check out Cheshire Life’s ‘7 walks near the Sandstone Trail‘.
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