The affluent Northern county is home to pretty half-timber rural villages, fine Tudor mansions, an Industrial Revolution heritage, an intriguing Roman past…and many a footballer. The historic cathedral city Chester is famously the jewel in the crown of the attractive county but explore further afield and you’ll find some equally gorgeous treasures. From my many years of exploring England and spending time in this county, here are 15 of the best and most beautiful places to visit in Cheshire…
Chester – a charming and attractive walled cathedral city which is one of the best places to visit in Cheshire
For those lovers of Roman history, Chester is a treat not to be missed and is definitely one of the best places to visit in Cheshire. From its famous Roman walls to the largest amphitheatre in Britain, Chester is surrounded by and built over Roman remains. Both locals and tourists enjoy walking along the Roman walls to enjoy the surrounding vistas or taking a stroll out to Edgar’s Field alongside the River Dee to visit the 2nd-century shine dedicated to Minerva.
Chester’s history is not limited to Roman times; Chester Cathedral is a fascinating potpourri of every religious style of architecture over the last thousand years, including extensive restorations done in Victorian times. Founded as a Benedictine abbey in 1093, on the site of an earlier church which counted Lady Godiva as one of its benefactors, additions, and modifications over the years have led to what we see today. The cathedral holds regular events, such as concerts and art exhibitions.
For a shopping or window-shopping experience, do not miss Chester Rows. There are first-floor passage-ways along with these picturesque half-timbered buildings, with another arcade at street level. There is so much to see and do in Chester that we could have written this article just about the town, but I’ll move on to some more of Cheshire’s treasures.
Hotels and Airbnbs in Chester
Little Moreton Hall – an iconic Tudor manor house which is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Cheshire
The market town of Congleton is a popular place to live for those who work in Manchester and Liverpool and is a pleasant upmarket town. It is most famous for Little Moreton Hall, a wattle and daub manor house 4km from the town’s centre. This is an excellent example of a half-timbered Tudor manor house, surrounded by a moat.
The house is very lopsided and it is thought that this is because the addition of a second-floor gallery was done with inadequate strengthening of the supporting walls, as well as natural subsidence. A tour of the interior gives a vivid impression of what life was like in Tudor times, as most of the original fittings remain.
Hotels and Airbnbs in Little Moreton Hall
Lyme Park – a beautiful historic house famous for being Mr. Darcy’s home
This is a fine and beautiful place to visit in Cheshire. Located South of the village of Disley, and bordering the Peak District is the magnificent hall of Lyme Park. This large estate, the biggest home in Cheshire, was built in the latter half of the 16th century and is instantly recognisable to anyone who watched the BBC Series of “Pride and Prejudice” as Mr. Darcy’s home, Pemberley.
There are 15 acres of gardens that were established fairly recently, adjoining nearly 1400 acres of deer park. Lyme Park is now owned by the National Trust and both the building and the grounds are open to the public, but do book ahead as it can get very busy.
Hotels and Airbnbs in Lyme Park
Kerridge Hill and Wellington’s Victory – two Cheshire beauty spots to explore
Close to the Peak Ridge National Park is Kerridge Hill or Kerridge Ridge, as it is also known. There are several routes that you can take to ascend the hill, from walking along the Macclesfield Canal on the River Dean to a more strenuous, but medium-grade walk from Tegg’s Nose Country Park.
There are great views of the Cheshire Plains, stretching as far as Manchester, and even glimpses of the Pennines on a clear day. Look out for chiffchaffs and blackcaps if you are a birder, as well as some of the species of grassland butterflies. The chief attraction on Kerridge hill, however, is a whimsical construction known as White Nancy. This 18-foot folly was built to commemorate Wellington’s victory at Waterloo by John Gaskell Junior. It has an interior room, which has been blocked off and is the logo for nearby Bollington town.
Hotels and Airbnbs in Kerridge Hill and Wellington’s Victory
Bollington – a pretty village in Cheshire the surrounding countryside is very beautiful
Bollington or Kerridge are the closest places to say if you plan to spend some time exploring Kerridge Hill and the nearby Peak District and Macclesfield Canal. At first view, Bollington’s cotton mills are not very inspiring, but they have been restored and converted into residential housing. In its time, Bollington produced the best Sea Island cotton, which was prized both by English and Belgian lacemakers.
Macclesfield Canal runs right through the town, and you can walk along the towpaths or even hire a narrowboat for the day. Like much of Cheshire, Bollington is rated as a very good place to live and is known as the “Happy Valley” by its residents.
Alderley Edge – a picturesque village surrounded by outstanding Cheshire countryside
Alderley has always been a favourite place to live since Neolithic times, and is home to football players, television personalities and others who can afford it, and has restaurants and shops that cater to their tastes.
However, the true appeal of Alderley is the Edge, a sandstone escarpment that overlooks the village (an Edge is the local name for an escarpment or highland). There are woodlands to walk through and stunning views at Stormy Point, a rocky outcrop, and the ominously named Devil’s Grave, an old mine working in the rocks. Get there via the signposted Wizard’s Walk.
Shining Tor – a walk is one of those must-do hikes in the Peak District
Shining Tor is the highest point in Cheshire, but is reasonably accessible via a walk of about 6 kilometres. It’s a gorgeous spot to explore in Cheshire and here you can catch views on a clear day from the Tor range from Jodrell Bank’s telescopes to Snowdonia’s mountains.
There are some interesting detours along this route as well as some of the other walks, such as St Joseph’s Shrine, a small memorial, the Grimshawes’ cemetery, and the sad remains of Errwood Hall. There is a good show of rhododendrons near the Errwood Hall car park, which is pleasant even when the shrubs are not in bloom.
Hare Hill – a lovely flower garden to visit in Cheshire
Although there is a fine and very beautiful Georgian style mansion at Hare Hill, which is under private ownership, the main attraction at Hare Hill is the garden.
The late Charles Brocklehurst was a keen gardener and has left a garden filled with many varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas, as well as a wide range of other flowering plants, so that there is a fine display at any season. There is also an access path that allows visitors to climb up to Kerridge Hill and White Nancy.
Delamere Forest – provides a stunning setting for your next family adventure in Cheshire
In the Middle Ages, much of Cheshire was covered by two forests, the Mara and Mondrum hunting forests, which covered more than 60 square miles. While designated forests, they were not completely forested, and had some 60 settlements within the area. However agriculture within the area was very limited and restricted, and only was allowed after 1215, although the Forest of Mara was only deproclaimed in 1812. The remnant of Mara became Delamere Forest in 1924.
It includes a wetland known as Blakemere Moss, that was drained by Napoleonic prisoners of war and planted with trees for the shipbuilding industry. Now, with a better understanding of the importance of wetlands, it has been restored and is a good place to spot waterbirds such as mallards and shorebirds. There are also peat bogs within the forest, together with the Moss, hearkening back to the Ice Age, which formed these deposits and wetlands.
There are many great bike paths and walking paths that are clearly marked to follow for a peaceful day in the Forest. Most of the trees are planted conifers, but there are beeches and oaks which formed part of the original woodland.
Lymm Dam Nature Reserve – a beautiful and tranquil place to visit in Cheshire
Not far from Warrington, and popular with its citizens, is Lymm Dam Nature Reserve, which has won a Green Flag Award. It is a good venue for families and dog-friendly. It takes about an hour to walk a circuit around the dam, you can take a horse ride along a bridle path, or there are lots of shady places and benches to sit and picnic. Alternatively, you can find a bite to eat in pretty Lymm village.
There are quite a few nature retreats around Warrington, such as Risley Moss, which is a peat bog, with bird hides and information about the importance of peat bogs, and Rixton Clay Pits, which are now filled with water and also a good place to spot local wildlife.
Cholmondeley Castle and the Gardens – a stunning 19th-century castle gardens with lakeside walks
While the Castle was only built in the 19th century, the site on which it is built and its surrounding grounds have been the home of the Cholmondely family for hundreds of years. Although the 1st Lord, Robert, assumed the title around 1200, there were probably earlier generations living here before him.
The first recorded building is the Chapel. Built around 1285, St Nicholas’ is open for visits when the gardens are open. The family occupied a succession of manor houses, which were rebuilt, remodelled or demolished until the Castle was built. It is private, because the family still live there, but the beautiful gardens welcome visitors.
The beautiful gardens cover 60 acres and have numerous attractions, apart from the vivid displays of flora. there are 2 water gardens, the Folly and the Temple, tranquil places to sit and relax. The Rose Garden was replanted in 2017 and leads into Lavinia Walk, named after Lady Lavinia, who was a dedicated gardener and responsible for much of the present-day spectacle. For those who enjoy something wilder, the Tower Hill walk is in the adjacent woodlands, and dogs are allowed there.
Teggs Nose Country Park – a beautiful Meadow moor and woodland area great walking and cycling
We mentioned that there is a walk between beautiful Tegg’s Nose and Kerridge Hill, and Tegg’s Nose Park is well worth a visit too. It has varied terrain, from moorlands and meadows to woodlands and the hill. There are great views across the plains, and offers the possibility of many activities, from walking and cycling to taking a sledge down the snow-covered hills in winter.
The variety of environments offers many different types of flora and fauna. Look out for harebells in the meadows, gorse and heather in the moorlands and oaks, beech and mountain ash in the woodlands. There is a good chance of spotting woodpeckers and treecreepers in the woods and waterfowl on the two reservoirs.
Some of the history of the place is still visible, including a Bronze Age burial chamber and the equipment used to crush sandstone extracted from the quarries.
Beeston Castle – one of the most dramatic ruins in the English landscapes
Hills and mountains have always been important to our ancestors, who needed to be able to defend themselves from attack. Beeston Castle was built in the 13th century, but the crag on which it sits has been used since Neolithic times. The castle, which is now in ruins, was one of several castles built by Ranulf de Blondeville when he returned from the Crusades. Due to its strategic position, the castle had a tumultuous history, culminating in its partial demolition by Oliver Cromwell in 1646. There is a legend that Richard II hid treasure somewhere in the grounds, supposedly at the bottom of the very deep well within the castle that you can peer down.
The views from the stunning castle are spectacular; both the Pennines and Snowdonia can be seen if the weather is clear. There are also paths through the woodlands surrounding the castle, which are pleasant to walk along, where you might see foxes and rabbits. Nestled below the castle is the quaint village of Beeston and Tarporley, some 4km away is also worth a visit.
Tatton Park – one of the UK’s most complete historic estates
The eighteenth-century Neo-Classical mansion at Tatton Park stands on the site of earlier homes in this sprawling property and was the home of the Egerton family, who owned it since 1598, ownership being bequeathed to the National Trust by Sir Maurice Egerton, the last in line. The fine house is surrounded by 50 acres of gardens, which in turn are enclosed in 1000 acres of parklands. It can be visited by previous arrangement (this applies to the whole estate) and gives a vivid impression of what it was like to live in such a fine mansion. It also houses extensive libraries and a rich collection of paintings.
The beautiful gardens and parklands offer the visitor many options, from the wetlands, classified as a RAMSAR site, to the kitchen garden. The Egerton family bestowed 300 years of time and effort cultivating the gardens and they do not disappoint. As well as the kitchen garden, there is a Japanese garden, a maze based on the layout of the Hampton Court Maze, a rose garden, an Italian garden and other treats.
There are a further two rare breeds of sheep roaming the Deer Park. The Deer Park is home to both Red and Fallow deer and was laid out by eighteenth-century landscaper Humphrey Repton. The stunning park is open and free to the public to walk, cycle and picnic. Those who love nature can explore the meres and ponds and woodlands. Wildlife such as foxes and badgers are often spotted, and the birdlife is varied and prolific.
All in all, there is something to enchant every one of all ages at Tatton Park, a Cheshire must-see.
Quarry Bank and the Styal Estate – a working mill and a great attraction to explore in Cheshire
At first sight, it might seem strange to list a cotton mill as a beautiful place to visit in Cheshire. In fact, I list it here mostly because it gives a fascinating glimpse into the First Industrial Revolution and what life was like if you worked in a mill, contrasted with what life was like if you were the mill-owner. This is a working cotton mill, which has been painstakingly restored, as well as the surrounding accommodation, both for workers and the owners. Built next to the River Bollin, which provided the water to drive the mill water wheels, one of which is still working, although the wheels were gradually replaced by steam combustion engines. This was a cotton mill, which received raw cotton shipped in to Liverpool and still produces cotton calico.
The houses which homed the workers have been restored and their simplicity can be compared with the Quarry Bank House of the Gregs, with their gardens filled with rhododendrons, and the restored greenhouse adjacent to the house.
Although Samuel Greg was involved in the slave trade, his millworkers were treated fairly by the standards of the day (which were very low). Child labour was used, but Samuel’s wife Hannah, did her best to improve conditions for the workers, starting an infants’ school among other initiatives.