Everything you need to know about the Sandstone Trail in a nutshell …
The Sandstone Trail runs roughly north to south across Cheshire and northern Shropshire between the pleasant market towns of Frodsham and Whitchurch.
The Sandstone Trail is covered by two orange-covered Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer series maps — 267 Northwich and Delamere Forest
[North], and 257 Crewe and Nantwich [South]
The complete Sandstone Trail covers 55 kilometres/34 miles.
Allow around two to three days to walk the whole Sandstone Trail, depending on fitness and ability. Most people choose to stop overnight close to the halfway mark, around Tarporley, Tiverton, Beeston, or Higher Burwardsley. Only the super fit can complete the Sandstone Trail in one go; this is best achieved during the long summer days and takes around 12 hour.
The varied landscapes along the Sandstone Trail include wooded sandstone ridge, cliffs, crags and caves, open woodland and ancient forest, green lanes, lowland heath, heather, bilberry and gorse, undulating Cheshire farmland, and canal towpaths.
The Sandstone Trail varies in difficulty from easy to moderate, depending on the terrain. Short, steep sections include those at Frodsham, Beeston Castle, Higher Burwardsley, Rawhead and Bickerton. The easiest, flattest sections of the Sandstone Trail are those in Delamere Forest Park and alongside the Llangollen branch of the Shropshire Union canal between Willeymoor Lock and Whitchurch
The Trail has sections to suit all abilities.
The most accessible sections are those in Delamere Forest Park (especially close to the main Barnsbridge Car Park) and along the Llangollen Canal (especially between Grindley Brook and Whitchurch); both are surfaced, smooth and fairly level. Both stretches also offer accessible parking and occasional seats.
Elsewhere, surfaces vary with the terrain. Because the Trail follows the central sandstone ridge or runs across open farmland, surfaces may be uneven, rough, wet, muddy or slippery. Much of the Trail is also hilly, and there are several short, steep sections, some over bedrock, others on stone or timber-edged steps.
In parts, the Trail runs close to unfenced cliffs or along the edge of steep slopes. Paths along the Trail are regularly maintained, cleared and strimmed. To further improve accessibility, stiles are gradually being replaced with kissing gates.
Sensible footwear such as strong shoes or walking boots is recommended as the Sandstone Trail runs mainly across country and can be wet and muddy at any time of year. It’s a good idea to take waterproofs with you, too; there is little shelter along the Trail and you may often be some distance from a car, pub, or cafe.
Because the Trail hugs the sandstone ridge, there are few facilities on the route itself. Most cafes, shops and pubs are a short distance away; so it makes sense to carry with you lunch or refreshments and plenty to drink.
A fully charged mobile phone and money for refreshments or a bus or taxi fare are a good idea, too.
Rawhead, near Bickerton in central Cheshire, rises 227 metres/746 feet above sea level. It’s the highest point on the Sandstone Trail and the views from the summit ‘trig’ point are exceptional.
Total ascent/descent for the whole Sandstone Trail is 1268 metres/4160 feet.
There are over 50 welcoming hotels, pubs, inns, farmhouses and B&Bs providing accommodation along the Sandstone Trail. An up to date accommodation list for the Sandstone Trail (PDF) is prepared each year.
Because the Sandstone Trail runs through open country, there are few public toilets along the route. Public toilets exist at: Frodsham, Delemere Forest Park visitor centre, and in Whitchurch. However, there are toilets for customers’ use at many pubs, hotels, cafes and tearooms along the Sandstone Trail.
Bikes and Horses
Mountain bikes are actively discouraged on the Sandstone Trail, while horses are allowed only on short sections of designated bridleway.
Dogs are welcome on the Sandstone Trail but should be kept under close control, especially near farm buildings and livestock. Please consider other walkers and clean up after your dog.