Delamere, Chesire Sunday 29th November 2015

Today’s Walks

Strenuous Leaders: Andrew Mayer   Distance: approx. 11.5 miles

On exitting the car park at the visitor centre at Delamere Forest, we follow the road down on the right hand side approx. 200 metres before entering the forest trail. We then head towards Manley Common climbing slightly at Manley hill, before leaving the forest onto Manley common. We make our way north on a mixture of footpaths and small local roads following the Sandstone Trail. At Sindley Moor woods we will stop for approx. 15 minutes for lunch, (about 6 miles). We then follow Delamere Way back towards Delamere Forest. There were a number of small climbs, and in places the paths were very wet, and slippery. Terrain – Tracks, fields, a short part on road, gates and a few stiles. It could be wet under foot.

Moderate/leisurely Leaders: Hazel Anderton & Joan McGlinchey   Distance : 7.0 miles

We start off walking through part of the forest and then go south along the Sandstone Trail to Nettleford Wood and Primrosehill Wood, broad leaved trees and conifers, and then open countryside and farmland before coming back to forest trails. The walk is generally undulating with no really steep bits, mostly good underfoot, but some short sections might be muddy and slippery, and very few stiles. Towards the end of the walk we go up onto Pale Heights where there are great views if the weather is good.

Easy Leader : Derek Lee   Distance : 5.0 miles

The first mile of today’s walk is a steady climb of 250 feet up to the viewpoint on Pale Heights where we can pause to admire the wide views. Then we lose all this height dropping down through Nettleford Woods to join the Sandstone Trail. This takes us through woods and farmland to re-enter the forest at Eddisbury Lodge. We carry on northwards before turning right to Hunger Hill and round Blakemere Moss back to Delamere.

Notes On The Area

Delamere Forest is the largest area of woodland in Cheshire, covering in excess of 1,300 acres. The name is derived from the French ‘de la mere’, and refers to the numerous meres and mosslands in the area. These resulted from the massive ice sheet which once covered the countryside in the county. Ten thousand years ago the retreating glaciers left enormous blocks of ice behind which gradually melted to create deep hollows, which over the intervening centuries, developed into the area’s famous wetlands.

Delamere today is all that remains of the great Norman hunting forests of Mara and Mondrum which stretched from the Mersey in the north to Nantwich in the south. At the heart of the forest lies the deep hollow of Blakemere Moss, an ancient wetland drained by French prisoners-of-war during the Napoleonic Wars. Trees have been grown there ever since. It remained as a royal hunting ground until the reign of Charles 1 in the seventeenth century. During his years on the throne all the remaining deer were culled and, in later years, the great oaks were used for the building of warships. In the mid-nineteenth century the area was replanted but the seed proved to be of poor quality and little growth took place.

After the First World War the area was taken over by the Forestry Commission and coniferous species were planted to maximise timber production. These included Scots and Corsican Pines, Larch and Western Hemlock. In more recent years, in accordance with changing policy, the forest has been developed as a recreational facility which has resulted in the planting of more broad-leaved species, the provision of car parks, picnic areas, a visitor centre and forest trails and is a great place to bring children so that they can run and let off steam. There is also a Go Ape facility.

The forest provides a habitat for numerous birds, including the greater spotted woodpecker, the green woodpecker, nuthatches and tree creepers. In winter crossbills and siskins prise the seeds from the pine cones. In summer dragonflies and damsel flies are widespread around the numerous marshy pools and the floor is carpeted with bluebells in Spring. The area is also well blessed with small mammals which attract the attention of the tawny owls and other raptors, while the grey squirrel is almost everywhere. The flora includes several species of ferns including the shield fern and bracken.

By the Old Pale Farm close by the summit of Eddisbury Hill were the ramparts of a Celtic fortress. In AD915, Ethelfleda, Queen of the Kingdom of Mercia, built a stronghold there against the invading Danes and centuries later a hunting lodge was constructed. This became known as The Chamber in the Forest and was the administrative and judicial centre of the area.

Delamere is served by a railway station.

One interesting fact about the area is that it has quite a strong Polish community as there was a refugee camp here after the War.