Favourite place?: Heather and bilberry-clad Bickerton Hill is a popular walking area on the Sandstone Trail

The lovely, open, heather clad Bickerton Hills are cared for by the National Trust for everyone to enjoy.

In high summer, splashes of purple heather and coconut-scented yellow gorse mingle with the emerald green of bilberry bushes to create a mosaic of scattered woodland, open ground, bogs and pools.

Together, this rich mosaic of habitats supports a wealth of threatened plants and animals such as tree pipits, redstarts, common lizards, adders and green hairstreak butterflies.

Rare Lowland Heath

The Bickerton Hills are home to the largest continuous area of rare lowland heath in Cheshire. It’s a key part of Cheshire’s ecological network and at the heart of the ‘Habitats and Hillforts’ project which aims to conserve and enhance existing habitats and create new areas linking them together.

Bickerton Hill is currently managed as mixed deciduous woodland interspersed with open heath, sandy patches, small pools and rocky outcrops. To the west, the steep scarp slopes sharply away to birch woodland and scattered, tiny fields. Grazing cattle and ponies help to browse out unwanted tree seedlings and break up the ground, allowing a richer flora to develop.

Iron Age Hillfort

Perched on the edge of the slope are the twin ramparts of a prehistoric promontory fort called Maiden Castle. Excavations by Liverpool University in the 1930s unearthed drystone-wall facings to the ramparts and an inturned gateway with guard chambers.

Further evidence suggests there may have been three building phases at Maiden Castle: an early freestanding timber palisade, possibly from as early as 900 BC, in the late Bronze Age; a timber-laced and stone-faced inner rampart from around 470 BC, in the Iron Age; and a stone-faced outer rampart from around 400 BC.

Walks around Bickerton Hill

Several circular walks around the hill begin at the two National Trust car parks at Pool Lane and Duckington (shown on OS maps), or from the broad parking area at the start of Goldford Lane, close to Bickerton church.

Key points of interest on the hills are Maiden Castle, the panoramic views from Kitty’s Stone, above Brown Knowl, and the hidden hermit’s cave at Mad Allen’s Hole.

For further details of routes and places of interest, see either Walk 8 in Walks in Mysterious Cheshire and Wirral, or Walk 8 in Walks in West Cheshire and Wirral.