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The Ridge: Rocks and Springs in Cheshire

The hills of the Sandstone Ridge are visible from most of Cheshire, contrasting with the low-lying plains which make up the bulk of the county. You can now find our more about the geology and history of the hills in a new publication from the Sandstone Ridge Trust.

The Ridge: Rocks and Springs – a sandstone legacy is available either as a free download from the website or in printed form from information centres and local libraries, or direct from the Sandstone Ridge Trust. It summarises the work of the three-year lottery funded project of the same name.

The book is packed with interesting historical facts about the different locations along the ridge. We now tend to see quarries as a blot on the landscape, but the book explores 2000 years of quarrying from Roman times to the present, highlighting all that we can learn about our past by reading the marks that remain and combining that information with what we can glean from historic maps to build a picture of the area through the ages.

Further back in time, the ridge contains prehistoric rock art which (although on a much smaller scale) is compared with that from the Tsolido Hills in Botswana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And there are amusing oddities, like the article about Whistlebitch Well in Utkinton, which supposedly had medicinal water that tasted of liquorice that would cure all manner of ailments.

The book concludes with nine short walk routes which can be tackled separately or as detours from the ridge trail. Download the book, and other leaflets about the Sandstone Ridge, from the ridge trail.

A more modern route through Cheshire can be followed on the Mid-Cheshire railway line, which runs from Chester to Manchester. Although it takes longer now to get from Chester to Manchester than it did in the early 1960s, the mid-Cheshire line is well used and connects market towns and tiny villages with the cities at each end.

A new booklet and website has been produced by the Mid-Cheshire Community Rail Partnership and encourages people to take a relaxing trip, not just to use the line for commuting, but to leave the car at home and ‘Meander the Mid-Cheshire Line’.

Both improving public transport and reducing the number of cars on the road and getting people out and about in the countryside to ensure that they appreciate and wish to protect it are key campaigning priorities for CPRE nationally, which makes this initiative all the more relevant to our members.

The booklet is illustrated by striking images, created by artist Nicky Thompson, and inspired by the work of Frank Henry Mason, which hark back to the vintage railway posters of the golden days of rail by using bold designs and flat colour, incorporating both historic and contemporary buildings. By contrast, some of the locations are illustrated with watercolours by Bernice Barrett-Brown and Gordon Wilkinson.

The text is written by John Hulme BEM, who was honoured in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours for services to railways in Cheshire, and is filled with anecdotes and personal recollections about the destinations as well as advice on continuing your journey to local attractions by bus when the station is too far away to walk.

Visit the Marvellous Days Out website to read the booklet and check the timetable for your trip.

View from the Bickerton Hills, part of the Sandstone Ridge
View from the Bickerton Hills Becca Nelson