5 of the best autumn walks in Cheshire - with a FREE downloadable walk
Looking for the best autumn walks in Cheshire? You're in the right place, because here we’ve rounded up a selection of our favourite routes in the county - walks chosen specifically to make the most of beautiful colours, ramble-friendly temperatures and quiet paths...
All of these walks originally appeared in our Cheshire Year Round Walks book. The first walk you come to below (a classic autumn walking route at Alderley Edge), appears exactly as it does in the book, complete with map, pictures and step-by-step directions.
📥 You can even click here to download a PDF version, which you can print or take with you on your phone.
Below that are a number of further recommendations for places to get out for a walk in Cheshire this autumn.
Alderley Edge (4½ miles)
Everyone enjoys a good walk in the woods in autumn, and where could be better for taking in those rich, coppery colours than Alderley Edge? Across this abrupt, red sandstone escarpment spread woods of oak, pine, holly, and that king of all autumn trees, the beech. The National Trust has care of these woods now, and this walk takes you to the farthest corner, where a ‘cathedral’ of beeches, huge trees planted more than two hundred years ago, stands on the slopes of a steep valley.
In autumn, their leaves shade from yellow to deepest bronze, and the floor is carpeted with the still-golden leaves of previous years. Those ‘cathedral’ beeches are by no means the only ones on this route. At the beginning of the walk, the beeches flanking Artists Lane are equally impressive – and as you walk down that lane, it’s fascinating to remember that in one of those tree-clad banks, a gold ingot was found some twenty-five years ago. Maybe you won’t come across an ingot on this walk, but similar discoveries have been made elsewhere on Alderley Edge, including caches of jewellery and Roman coins. Other treasures hidden from your gaze are the ancient mine shafts in the slopes, with rich seams of copper and lead. And then there are the legends of the Edge: stories of the wizard, knights and white horses that haunt the caves, and which inspired Alan Garner to write his children’s classic The Weirdstone of Brisingamen. Enjoy your walk, then maybe read the book!
- How to get there & parking: In the town of Alderley Edge, follow signs for the B5087 to Macclesfield. The car park is on the left in one mile; a fee is payable; free for National Trust members.
- Sat Nav: SK10 4UB
- Refreshments: The Wizard Tearoom, adjacent to the car park, is perfect for an all-day breakfast, a light lunch, or just tea and home-made cake, and is open every day except Monday. The Wizard Inn next door is also great.
1. From the car park, walk through to the Wizard Tearoom and the Wizard Inn. Here, cross the road directly into Artists Lane, and continue downhill between the banks of splendid beeches.
2. At the bottom of the hill, take a bridleway signed off the road on the right. After going through a wooden gate, continue uphill to the right on a broad track, and at the cross-tracks, continue ahead. Reaching the top of the slope, the track bears left to a gate into a field. Do not go through the gate; instead, turn right in front of it, before reaching the edge of the woodland. This path soon becomes a lovely hedged track between fields, and continues to the road.
3. Cross the road, and keep directly ahead on a track between fields, soon reaching a fine viewpoint at Castle Rock. Apparently, an Earl of Chester decided to build a castle here around nine hundred years ago, but didn’t get any further than the foundations. The view you have is to the north, across Manchester, with the Peak District over to the right. Turn right, and continue on the firm path along the edge of the cliff. Eventually, you have a stone wall on your right, and you can see a mound topped with a block of stone ahead. The stone commemorates the beacon that was lit on this site to warn of the approaching Spanish Armada in 1588. There were no trees on the hill at the time!
4. From the beacon, take the track straight ahead of you, and at the first crosstracks, turn left. Continue on this path, ignoring all side turnings, until you arrive at a T-junction, with the Edge ahead of you once more. On the way, you will pass through a sort of ditch with rocky sides. Quarry workers once lived in caves here.
5. To the left at this junction is Stormy Point, another rocky viewpoint, but you go to the right, continuing past a track leading back down the slope to reach a wooden gate. Just beyond the gate, you can see a huge stone on the left. This is the Goldenstone, a rock of conglomerate, alien to these parts. It is thought it may have been carried here in the Bronze Age.
6. Do not go through the wooden gate, but instead turn left down the slope. Now you are heading into Waterfall Wood, named for the cascade in the stream at its heart. Keep ahead, walking downhill on the main path, to reach a T-junction. Turn left here, still going downhill and now with the stream in the deep cleft on your right. At the bottom, with a field ahead, the path bears right to cross the narrow stream on two stepping stones.
7. Now the obvious path climbs, with those splendid ‘cathedral’ beeches soon appearing on either side. At the top of the hill, bear left with the path, then right very soon afterwards, and continue on the broad track through Clockhouse Wood, on the side of the slope. At the lowest point, above Clockhouse Farm, a buttressed balcony path takes you over a muddy patch, after which you continue to the top of the hill.
8. Here, go over a stile beside a gate on the right, and continue in the field with a hedge on your right. The path soon takes you between ponds, afterwards reaching a path junction. Turn right on a descending fenced path between fields. Ignore a path on the right, then climb, crossing two stiles to reach Edge House Farm at the top of the hill.
9. Cross the wide drive to a narrow track opposite, running between fields again. Where this emerges on a wide track in the woods, turn left, and keep ahead through a wooden gate to reach the car park.
4 more autumn walks in Cheshire
Burwardsley (5 miles)
The walk here takes you up Bulkeley Hill, where ancient sweet chestnuts throng the summit. The floor is carpeted with the golden leaves of yesteryear, and if you come sometime in October, this year’s prickly-shelled fruit should have fallen among them. It’s easy to collect yourself a feast, but just remember that you will be in competition with the squirrels (and other humans!), so you need to get here early in the day for the biggest fruits.
The path across Bulkeley Hill is on Cheshire’s Sandstone Trail, and you follow that well-marked route for a couple of miles before branching off into a very different wood. The path through Bodnook Wood is flanked by veteran beech trees, so should the season be right – a little later than the chestnuts – you have a fine display of autumn colour here, too.
Marbury (4 miles)
Red berries on the hawthorn, dark purple on the elder, bright orange hips on the dog rose, and scarlet clusters on the rowan: in autumn, the woods and hedgerows yield their colourful bounty, and on this off-the-beaten-track walk you should see it in profusion.
Pushed against Cheshire’s southern border, Marbury is only a few miles from Whitchurch, but nowhere could feel further from urbanisation than its fields, woods, low-lying meres and scattered farms. The village is a rural idyll in itself: half-timbered cottages clustered round an ancient church of red sandstone and overlooking the tranquil waters of a mere. Few ramblers cross the fields here, and the lanes are strangers to traffic, but on this walk, your wake-up call comes at the end, in the form of the Llangollen Canal. This is Britain’s most popular leisure waterway, and it is likely to be busy even this late in the season. You may well meet boats queuing to go through the lock as you return to Marbury.
Anderton (3½ miles)
The nature park at Anderton is one of nine countryside sites that come together under the title of Northwich Woodlands. Truly, this site is a miracle of reclamation: salt extraction and the chemical industry took a heavy toll here over many years. Today, pools fill the old mining sites, rare plants and woods of silver birch thrive on the residues of soda ash, and the Trent and Mersey Canal running through its heart carries pleasure craft, rather than commercial barges. The whole area is criss-crossed with paths, and it all makes for some easy, pleasant walking.
The walk here takes in Anderton Nature Park and, to the north, Marbury Country Park. Both have fine birch woods, in which, come autumn, fungi flourish. This isn’t a long walk, because you will want to get off the path and hunt around a bit, and that takes time. The fungi are there in plenty, but for anyone who really wants to get serious, fungal forays are staged here every year in mid-September. Apparently there are more than seventy species to be found! Fungi or not, this is a pleasant short walk in its own right, and you are sure to want to see more of Northwich Woodlands. Before you leave, though, you must visit the Anderton Boat Lift, just around the corner from the Nature Park. Constructed in 1875 to carry boats between the canal and the River Weaver, it strides the fifty-foot drop between the two like some monster from science fiction. Restored and in full working order, you could take a ride on it while you are here, or simply sit in the café and watch the action.
Little Moreton Hall (5 miles)
Autumn is traditionally a season of superstition and ghostly happenings, particularly around Halloween and the subsequent All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days. The days are getting shorter, the evenings more gloomy, and it all helps the imagination along. Well, you can’t really expect to see a ghost on this walk, but a visit to Little Moreton Hall beforehand could give you a reasonable chance. In this remarkable half-timbered Tudor mansion, a ‘grey lady’ has been known to brush silently past visitors in the Long Gallery, and other spectres have apparently been seen in the house and in the road nearby as well.
Having taken leave of the phantoms, it’s time to have a bite to eat in the excellent National Trust tea rooms and blow away any remaining spooky cobwebs on this walk. It’s a simple circuit through the fields and lanes south of the mansion, and it takes in an old mill, an 18th-century country house and a stretch of the Macclesfield Canal. Oh, and you’ll be walking ‘widdershins’ – but surely no one believes in bad luck nowadays?
- Rory Batho