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Cheshire Flag

Famous for its delicious cheese, Cheshire is very much a beautiful, rural county despite its closeness to the metropolitan cities of Liverpool and Manchester. Hugging the Welsh border, there’s plenty of open countryside inside its borders, but the county also has the perfect mix of a thriving Cathedral City and plenty of large, vibrant towns, all of them offering plenty to see and do.

Days out in Cheshire

With Liverpool and Manchester in proximity, Cheshire provides the perfect antidote to big city life for everyone. As well as having plenty of open, green space to relax in or explore, the county town of Chester and the towns of Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Northwich, Macclesfield, and Knutsford, give you all the history, heritage, culture, and excitement you’re looking for, whatever you want to see or do.

The beautiful Chester Cathedral is an obvious place with which to start on any visit to Chester. With glorious gothic architecture inside and out, and parts dating back to over 10,000 years ago, a tour around this mighty building, and up the 216-step tower for amazing views, is certainly not to be missed. Elsewhere in the town centre, look out for the historic landmarks including the Eastgate Clock, a masterpiece of a Victorian clock tower, and Chester Cross.

Just outside the city centre, the famous Chester Zoo covers nearly 130-acres of gardens and is home to over 20,000 beautiful animals including much-loved Lions, Jaguars, and Giraffes, together with some of their lesser-known neighbours, including Black Lemurs, Eastern Bongos, and Komodo Dragons. The nearby Blue Planet Aquarium is home to over 100 displays and all manner of marine life, including one of the largest collections of sharks in Europe.

Above the Central Library in Warrington, you’ll find the Warrington Museum and Art Gallery. A great place to learn more about the area and beyond, their collections house over 200,000 items covering art, archaeology, natural history, social history, and more. Warrington’s Gulliver’s World, just outside the town centre, is an excellent family-friendly theme park and resort with kid-friendly rides and attractions.

In Macclesfield, the Silk Museum and Paradise Mill both provide a fascinating look into the region’s history in the silk trade, and you’ll find a steep climb up to see some characterful brick houses by looking for the historic 108 steps near the train station. The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre just outside the town is an awesome outdoor-only attraction that’s home to the Grade I listed Lovell telescope as well as science exhibits and arboretum.

With plenty of protected green belt land, it’s easy to take advantage of Cheshire’s scenic countryside. So for some fantastic outdoor space and exploration, the Cheshire Plain is the place to go. While predominantly a lowland area, sections of the Mid-Cheshire Ridge offer beautiful views across the countryside. To the east of the county, you can explore Cheshire’s portion of the Peak District National Park.

Topography, geology, and climate

Though a beautifully rural county, Cheshire does contain an interesting mix of assorted land qualities and soil types with a range of fertility levels. While much of the county is made up of slowly permeable, slightly acidic, base-rich loam and clay soils of moderate fertility, there are several areas that differ greatly.

To the west over the Cheshire Plain, soils are a mix of slightly acid and high acid loam and sand, both with low fertility. Similar soils and fertilities are common in central and eastern areas, particularly between Northwich and Macclesfield. In the far east, just in the foothills of the Peak District, slightly acid loam soil turns to high acid, peaty, upland soils before becoming wet blanket bog peat soils, all with low fertility.

Cheshire’s weather is variable, but temperatures across the summer are typically averaging around 20ºC (68ºF), while in winter, low temperatures are reasonably mild, averaging around 3ºC (37ºF). The annual rainfall averages at around 800mm (31”) as Cheshire is largely sheltered by the higher ground of north-west Wales.

Cheshire’s parks and gardens

Fitting in well alongside Cheshire’s countryside, the county has a fabulous selection of gardens, grounds, and parkland to enjoy. Offering a great family day out and a day of interest and inspiration for every gardener, these highlights of Cheshire’s notable gardens offer something for everyone.

North Cheshire

As an award-winning garden, Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden, near Warrington features some of the best in working and pleasure gardens inside a sandstone wall. The working kitchen garden has a classic geometric, formal layout and yields a huge range of fruit and veg, while Victorian glasshouses are home to citrus fruits, grapes, and figs. Beyond the Yew hedge, the pleasure gardens are ideal for a relaxing stroll and include three ponds plus plants offering an array of colour and scent throughout the seasons including Rhododendrons, Camelia, Agapanthus, Allium, and Asters.

Bluebell Cottage Gardens is a fabulous hidden gem in Dutton near Runcorn. Alongside its plant nursery, you’ll find an orchard complete with a wildlife-friendly wildflower meadow before you enjoy the rustic and informal 2-acre gardens themselves. With winding pathways leading you, there’s plenty to explore: wide herbaceous borders filled with perennials, a gravel garden with colourful and drought-resistant plants, plus the Exotic garden looking its best in late summer.

With 6-acres of formal and informal gardens, Abbeywood Gardens, Delamere, near Northwich is well worth visiting if you can. The wide, glasshouse border is filled with naturalistic plantings like Narcissus and tulips, followed by perennials including Nepeta and Veronicastrum. The Tropical garden has rich, tender exotics plus palms, Dahlias, and Ligularia. The central pond in the Pool garden is home to beautiful cottage garden style planting including Campanula, Agapanthus, and Aquilegia. There’s plenty more to explore besides, including the surrounding arboretum and woodland.

East Cheshire

Set in 1,000-acres of surrounding landscaped parkland enjoyed by deer herds, Tatton Park, near Knutsford, also has almost 50-acres of stunning gardens to enjoy, including glasshouses, formal gardens, Italian, and the 100-year-old Japanese garden, complete with a pagoda and bridge over the ponds. And the amazing walled kitchen garden is filled with the very best in organic and naturally grown fruits and vegetables.

At Hare Hill, in Over Alderley near Macclesfield, this National Trust property features an informal woodland garden, with 70 varieties of glorious Rhododendrons, plus Azaleas and Hostas, that sits inside acres of surrounding parkland. But the real gem here is the spectacular Walled Garden. Filled with beautiful, white flowering perennial borders and a centrepiece lawn, there’s also a collection of over 50 holly varieties.

South Cheshire

Situated in the surrounding countryside near Malpas, Cholmondeley Castle Gardens features over 70-acres of scent and colour throughout several areas. Filled with pathways to lead you around, you can discover the lakeside Temple garden and Folly garden, as well as the formal Rose garden, completely replanted in 2017 with classic varieties including Gertrude Jekyll, Anne Boleyn, and Queen of Sweden. There’s also the amazing 100m Lavinia Walk, lined with wide herbaceous borders that include climbing roses and Delphinium alongside later flowerings of Heleniums and Crocosmia.