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Beeston and Peckforton Castles

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Beeston and Peckforton Castles
Author: Claire, Published: 21 Feb 2013 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Beeston and Peckforton Castles walkstar1 Beeston and Peckforton Castles walkstar1 Beeston and Peckforton Castles walkstar1 Beeston and Peckforton Castles walkstar0 Beeston and Peckforton Castles walk
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Beeston and Peckforton Castles
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot Beeston and Peckforton Castles walk boot Beeston and Peckforton Castles walk
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A 4 mile circular trail taking in two beautiful castles set within the sandstone hills of Cheshire. The walk starts from Beeston Castle, the ruins of a 13th Century castle which is managed by English Heritage and sits high upon a sandstone crag. The route heads out across farmland to circle Peckforton Castle, a 19th Century country house built in the style of a medieval castle and now operating as a hotel. The journey takes you along one section of the Sandstone Trail, a famous long-distance-path, and along the quiet woodland paths through the Peckforton Estate. Both castles are visible for much of the route sitting high on their respective hills giving a real sense of their imposing presence on the area.

The walk has a few climbs and descents most of which are fairly gentle, but there is one set of fairly steep and deep-treaded woodland steps which are a bit of a challenge to negotiate. There are several kissing gates and 3 stiles (but these are all quite low and open making them fairly easy for both humans and dogs!). The paths are a combination of stone and woodland/field paths which can be quite muddy after wet weather. Some of the fields may be holding cattle. Approximate time 1.5 to 2 hours.

The walk starts from the pay and display car park opposite the entrance to Beeston Castle, on Church Lane in Beeston, near Taporley. (In Feb 2013 the parking fee was £3 per day). Approximate post code CW6 9TX.

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Walk Sections

Start to Horsley Lane
Start to Horsley Lane

Start point: 53.1269 lat, -2.6882 long
End point: 53.1199 lat, -2.6958 long

From the car park opposite the entrance to Beeston Castle, go out to the road and turn left. After just 50 yards, fork right onto the fenced footpath which runs directly alongside the outer castle walls (signed as the Sandstone Trail to Whitchurch). Follow the path through a small section of woodland and you will emerge out onto a road opposite Tabernacle Cottage.

Cross over and go left for a few paces, then turn right up the steps and through the kissing gate into an open field. Take the well-trodden path diagonally across the centre of the field signed to Burwardsley. Ahead you will have your first views of Peckforton Castle with its sandstone turret visible over the tops of the trees.

At the far side of the field, pass through the kissing gate and go down the steps to cross over the stream via the wooden footbridge. Go up the steps opposite and go straight on (ignoring the path to the left) to join the footpath running along the right-hand boundary of the next field. Half-way along this boundary fork right through a kissing gate cutting diagonally across the next field (Note: may be holding cattle). You will emerge out of the field through a kissing gate to reach Horsley Lane.

Horsley Lane to Witches Staircase
Horsley Lane to Witches Staircase

Start point: 53.1199 lat, -2.6958 long
End point: 53.1132 lat, -2.7046 long

Turn right along the main tarmac lane passing a number of pretty properties on the right hand side. A few yards after passing Ivy Cottage on the right, fork left through a metal gate onto a woodland track heading into the Peckforton Estate (still signed as the Sandstone Trail to Burwardsley). Follow this stone vehicle track as it climbs steadily swinging gradually left around the base of the Peckforton Hills.

Peckforton Castle was built between 1844 and 1850 by John Tollemache (Conservative MP and local estate owner) and, although built as a family home, it was constructed in the style of a medieval castle, faced with red sandstone. The house is often described as the last seriously fortified home built in England. The family lived in the castle until 1939. In World War I the house was used to care for wounded soldiers and in World War II it was used as a hostel for disabled children that had been evacuated from London. After a period being used as a film and TV set, the castle was converted to a hotel in 1988.

As you pass through a vehicle gateway you will come to a signpost marking a junction of paths. Turn left here, leaving the Sandstone Trail, on the smaller path signed to Stonehouse Lane. Follow the path uphill through an arch of holly/conifer and within a short distance you will come to the base of a long flight of broad woodland steps known as the Witches Staircase.

Witches Staircase to Gatehouse Lodge
Witches Staircase to Gatehouse Lodge

Start point: 53.1132 lat, -2.7046 long
End point: 53.1131 lat, -2.6917 long

Climb the long steep flight of woodland steps – it can only be assumed that witches have very long legs and/or strong knees! At the top, turn left onto the wide track for just a few paces, and then turn right onto the waymarked footpath immediately before the next vehicle gate. Use the yellow arrows to follow the obvious path as it winds down the eastern side of the hills.

You will emerge to the main tarmac access lane for Peckforton Castle. Turn right along the lane, pass alongside the vehicle barrier and continue ahead. On the left you’ll pass by a large impressive dovecote and ahead you will reach the Gatehouse Lodge.

Gatehouse Lodge to Peckforton Road
Gatehouse Lodge to Peckforton Road

Start point: 53.1131 lat, -2.6917 long
End point: 53.1193 lat, -2.6888 long

Pass under the gatehouse arch and take time to admire the ancient oak tree directly opposite. Turn right for a few paces along the lane and then turn left through a metal kissing gate onto a waymarked footpath. Cross diagonally left to reach the far boundary and then bear left again to follow the field edge path with the wire fence immediately on the right.

Over to the left you’ll once again be able to see the turret of Peckforton Castle over the tall tree tops, and at about 10 o’clock you’ll have a great view of Beeston Castle sitting on top of its sandstone crag. In the fenced area to the right you’ll see the reeds, ponds and marshes of Peckforton Mere. This is a preserved part of the Cheshire Mossland wetlands that existed here before the land was drained for agriculture in 1800s. 21 hectares are now being managed locally to restore the lost habitat.

As you approach the woodland ahead, ignore the kissing gate on the right, instead follow the field edge path as it bends sharp left following the boundary of the woodland. On your right you’ll come to a stile, cross this and follow the path through the centre of the woods. At the far side, do NOT cross the stile ahead, instead turn sharp left to follow the path through the edge of the woodland heading for Peckforton Castle on the hill ahead.

Follow this path to reach the stile at the far right hand corner of the woodland. Cross the stile and keep ahead to follow the path alongside the fenceline on the left. Half way along the field, cross the stile set into the fence on the left. Now keep right, heading for the wide gap in the hedgeline which leads out onto Peckforton Road.

Peckforton Road to End
Peckforton Road to End

Start point: 53.1193 lat, -2.6888 long
End point: 53.1264 lat, -2.6891 long

Turn left along Peckforton Road and then take the first turning on the right – a private road which is part of the Peckforton Estate. Walk along this road and look out for a metal kissing gate on the right which is signed as the Sandstone Way to Beeston Castle. Take this path and continue ahead along the left hand edge of the field. Half way along you will recognise that you have now rejoined the path from your outward leg.

From this point simply retrace your steps back to the car park. To do this, continue on the field edge path to the far corner and go down the steps, over the bridge and through the gate into the next field. Follow the path through the centre of the next field and go out through the kissing gate onto Tattenhall Road. Turn left and then immediately right to follow the Sandstone Trail into woodland. Follow the path uphill and then bearing left to run alongside the outer castle walls. You will emerge alongside a gate to the road, fork left here signed to Frodsham and you will reach the car park about 50 yards along on the right.

Take time to explore Beeston Castle should you wish (the castle is managed by English Heritage and entrance fees apply). Beeston Castle perches 110 metres above the Cheshire Plain high on a rocky sandstone crag. It was built in the 1220s by the 6th Earl of Cheshire on his return from the Crusades. The castle offers some of the best views of any castle in England, stretching across eight counties from the Welsh mountains in the west to the Pennines in the east.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2013 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.

2 comments for "Beeston and Peckforton Castles"

Brilliant walk on a dry day! Can be steep & muddy in parts, took us a comfortable 3 hours including taking the wrong turn twice due to lack of concentration!!! We are an active couple in our 50s & found this walk very enjoyable.

By harryandjool on 14 Feb 2015

Fabulous walk. Well worth diverting up the drive to Peckforton castle for afternoon tea. Picnic on the witches steps is nice. Love the woods and the hills and the views of the castles are great. We park on the main road near Peckforton castle entrance to avoid the car park fees at bickerton castle

By Lyndslee on 30 May 2015

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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