A beautiful county in the North-West of England, Cheshire is known for its rural vibe, rolling patchwork fields, and quaint towns and villages. There are many churches, historic buildings, parks, gardens, stately homes, and quaint countryside pubs. You’ll also find one of the UK’s biggest zoos, theme parks, and an abundance of great attractions for everyone.
Here are five great things to do and see when visiting Cheshire:
1. Beeston Castle
Situated on jagged sandstone rocks overlooking the Cheshire Plains, Beeston Castle dates back to the 1200s. The sweeping views stretch as far as the Welsh Mountains and the Pennines, a mountain range between the North West of England and Yorkshire. Although the castle is now in ruins, visitors can wander around the atmospheric remains and imagine how dramatic and imposing the castle would have been at the peak of its power. A moat runs around the castle, designed to provide extra protection from attacks. See the remains of medieval walls and towers and poke around in many nooks and crannies.
There is a small museum that provides more information about the once-large and impressive castle. You can also enjoy strolling in the extensive Woodland Park. Admission is 6.30 GBP (approximately 9.30 USD) for adults and 3.80 GBP (approximately 5.60 USD) for children up to the age of 15.
If you can’t get enough of castles, Peckforton Castle can be found just a few minutes’ drive from Beeston Castle. Built as a medieval-style home, this castle dates back to the 1850s. It houses a hotel, function rooms, restaurants, and a spa today. Other nearby attractions include Cheshire Workshops, where you can see how candles are made, and the Ice Cream Farm, a working dairy farm and famous ice cream production centre. Beeston is also known for its monthly Farmers’ Market. Held on the 3rd Saturday of each month, it is a lively affair where vendors trade fresh produce and artisan goods like cheeses and chocolates.
2. All Saints’ Church, Daresbury
Between the large towns of Warrington and Runcorn you can find the charming village of Daresbury with the lovely All Saints’ Church. Whilst Cheshire is home to many pretty churches, Daresbury’s church has something rather unusual that really sets it apart. Built in the late 1800s on the site of much older churches, the tower is actually the original tower from a church that was built in the 1550s.
A previous priest at All Saints’ Church was the Reverend Charles Dodgson. His son was C. L. Dodgson. Whilst these names may not mean much to you, C. L. Dodgson’s penname might ring a few bells – Lewis Carroll. Most known for his works about Alice in Wonderland, he was born in the now-demolished church house and the church was an important part of his life during his younger years.
Visitors today can enjoy learning more in the Lewis Carroll Centre and admire the large “Alice Window” in the church. A beautiful stained glass window depicts scenes from the much-loved children’s books underneath traditional religious imagery. Gaze upon the Mad Hatter and March Hare enjoying a pot of tea, see the Queen of Hearts bellowing at a knave, and look out for the White Rabbit. In what other church could you see beautiful depictions of a caterpillar smoking a shisha pipe / hookah?!
It is free to visit the church and the Lewis Carroll Centre, although donations are gratefully received. Visitors are also reminded that All Saints’ Church is still an active place of worship; please wait outside if there is a service in progress and remember to dress respectfully.
3. Quarry Bank, Styal
Also known as Styal Mill and Quarry Bank Mill, Quarry Bank is a terrific place to learn more about life during the Industrial Revolution (mid-1700s to mid-1800s). A historic cotton mill, visitors can see (and hear!) old machinery at work, learn about heritage equipment and the cotton producing process, see the enormous water wheel that once powered the thriving mill, and enjoy various demonstrations and informative talks. There are also extensive gardens to enjoy.
Take a wander through Styal Village and see where the workers lived, and step inside the Apprentice House, a place where pauper children were sent to live and work. Unlike in many Victorian institutions, children were treated reasonably well at Quarry Bank. Although young apprentices worked long hours, in often dangerous conditions, they were also provided with an education, received decent nourishing meals, and had a mill doctor to ensure their well-being.
Tickets are available for different sections of the grounds. Admission to all sections costs 14.40 GBP (approximately 21.40 USD) for adults and 7.20 GBP (approximately 10.70 USD) for children.
Other attractions close to Quarry Bank include Tatton Park, a beautiful stately home within a deer park, the quaint town of Knutsford, and the pretty village of Alderley Edge. Steeped in myths and legends about wizards, Alderley Edge has elegant and expensive homes, a lovely church, the historic Chorley Old Hall (the oldest manor house in Cheshire), countryside walking trails, and The Edge, a large sandstone cliff that overlooks the village.
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4. Parkgate, Wirral
Located on the Wirral Peninsula, Parkgate has Cheshire’s only coastline. Popular for its great seafood restaurants and bird-spotting opportunities in the marshes, it features stylish buildings along the promenade, cute shops, and several great walking trails.
Parkgate is also known for its ice cream parlours. Nicholls Ice Cream is particularly famous, with a history stretching back over 75 years and a wide selection of delicious and creamy flavours to choose between. The store also offers an array of other sweet treats too.
Nearby Thurstaston is home to the wildlife-rich Wirral Country Park and the so-called Red Rocks; enormous sandstone rocks on Thurstaston Common that are bound in Viking legends.
5. National Waterways Museum, Ellesmere Port
Also known locally by its former name of the Boat Museum, the National Waterways Museum is a fantastic place for anyone interested in boats and water navigation. Located close to the meeting point of two of the UK’s most important canals (the Manchester Ship Canal and the Shropshire Union Canal), the museum showcases various types of boat and provides lots of interesting information about water transport within the UK, the importance of water transportation for trade in times gone by, boat building, and the way of life on boats.
The National Waterways Museum is situated at an old canal port and visitors can discover old warehouses and see how canal locks work. It is also possible to take a boat ride along a stretch of the canal. Watch various demonstrations to see what life was like in the past, for example, step into the Blacksmith’s Forge and watch the blacksmith working with iron. Wander through the period homes at Porter’s Row, former workers’ houses, see the old stables and the Pump House, step onto a colourful and ornate canal barge, and more!
The museum is closed during the winter (November to February) and admission costs 6.50 GBP (approximately 9.60 USD) for adults and 4.50 GBP (approximately 6.70 USD) for children under the age of 16.
Other attractions in the Ellesmere Port area include the large Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet Shopping Centre and the fascinating Blue Planet Aquarium.
Other things to do and see in Cheshire
Visit the county’s main city of Chester and enjoy a journey through the ages, explore the lush Delamere Forest, uncover mysterious and clandestine activities at Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker, see an engineering masterpiece at Anderton Boat Lift, enjoy one of the UK’s best zoos, Chester Zoo, and much, much more! Cheshire really is a fabulous county to explore.
Don’t miss Cheshire’s many delights when travelling around the United Kingdom.
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