The Sandstone Trail
Route Summary: The Sandstone Way is a relatively short LDP in Cheshire
The Sandstone Way is a relatively short LDP in Cheshire
|54.36 km||1028 m|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: Frodsham to Whitchurch
The Sandstone Trail Route Map and GPX Download
Sandstone Trail Guidebooks:
Summits and Places on this Route
The Sandstone Trail Details
The Sandstone Trail is a 54km long trail from Frodsham in Cheshire to Whitchurch in Shropshire. Established in 1974, the Sandstone Trail was been extended in the 90s to include Frodsham and Witchurch, rather than starting and ending in more remote locations that were difficult to get to by public transport. The trail follows Cheshire’s Sandstone Ridge which is a series of outcrops and hills rather than a continuous ridge. The highest point on the route is Raw Head at 227m high. The Sandstone Trail is well way-marked with either distance marked finger posts or yellow way-mark discs with an ‘S’ in a footprint.
While it is split into 3 days, these end at locations that are rural and would be easiest to complete the route by staying locally. Camping isn’t really practical, but conceivable with creative use of taxis and similar. We’d make the most of it and kip in a real bed for this one!
Facilities on the trail are rather limited, with most requiring you to detour to nearby villages. However, there are plenty of pubs and accommodation along the way that makes organising the trip over two or three days straightforward enough. The Boot Inn can be found in Willington at the end of the first section as is the more salubrious Willington Hall for those looking for a bit of luxury. The Pheasant Inn at Higher Burwardsley and The Bickerton Poacher are near the end of the second section. The final section is again sparse on facilities, but with a good selection as you reach the end of the Sandstone Trail. There’s the Willeymoor Lock Tavern just before Grindley Brook, which has a cafe and The Horse and Jockey pub to welcome hungry and thirsty walkers. Once in Whitchurch, there’s plenty of eateries and accommodation to choose from.
Those looking to complete the trail, or part of it as a challenge or race have two options open to them. The Sandstone Trail Race is held annually in September while the Sandstone Trail Challenge isn’t a race, and is usually held annually in May.
The Sandstone Trail Northern Section – Frodsham to Willington
Distance – 18 km, Height Gained – 450 metres, Time – 5 hours
The Northern section of the Sandstone Trail starts off in Frodsham, and up Overton / Frodsham Hill which is one of those landmarks that you’ll recognise from the M56 without really knowing much more about it! The route sets off from Frodsham town centre near the Bears Paw pub and climbs steeply to attain the ridge where you’ll be treated with views across the Dee and Mersey towards Liverpool. It’s then over Woodhouse Hill – an iron age hill fort with a natural defence to the west and ramparts to the gentler sides once thought to be 4m high. The Sandstone trail continues south, passing through the Delamere Forest Park and then keeps high up along the ridge towards the hamlet of Willington.
The Sandstone Trail Central Section – Willington to Bickerton
Distance – 18 km, Height Gained – 340 metres, Time – 5 hours
The Sandstone Trail continues south, first passing through productive fruit and dairy farms as it makes its way towards the Peckforton Hills. Beeston Castle is soon reached, which was built in the 1220s by Ranulf de Blondeville, 6th Earl of Chester when he returned from the Crusades. Built on the top of a sandstone crag over 100m high, this would have been a formidable fortress in it’s day to defend the Welsh border. It remained in use until the English Civil War, after which it was destroyed to prevent it being used as a stronghold again. The trail doesn’t pass over Beeston Castle, but it’s worth the slight detour to enjoy the view of the Cheshire countryside already walked, and that yet to come.
The Sandstone Trail continues towards the Peckforton hills which include another castle – Peckforton Castle. This was built in the 1840s for the Admiral Tollemarche and is now a luxury hotel. The trail now continues over it’s highest points, first Bulkeley Hill and then Raw Head with its distinctive red sandstone crags. Raw Head, or just Rawhead at 227m is the route’s summit. Views from these hills extend as far as the Peak District.
The Sandstone Trail Southern Section – Bickerton to Whitchurch
Distance – 18 km, Height Gained – 240 metres, Time – 5 hours
The final section of the Sandstone Trail continues over the summits of Bickerton Hill and Maiden Castle. Maiden Castle is owned by the National Trust and has an Iron Age hill fort on the flat summit with the ramparts still visible. The trail continues through farmland, the high points of the summits now behind us as the route makes its way to the end at Whitchurch. At Willeymoor Lock, the trail takes a final twist to follow the Llangollen Canal towards Grindley Brook (where you can join the Maelor Way). From Grindley Brook, which incidentally now takes you out of Cheshire for the first time and into Shropshire, it’s but a short walk to the trail’s end in Whitchurch.
Click here to view the full description and download a full pack detailing the route in full. More general information about the Sandstone Ridge can be found on the Sandstone Ridge Trust website which includes detailed information leaflets on the historical locations on the way such as The Archaeology of Woodhouse Hill, and The Archaeology of Maiden Castle.