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10 of the Best Hidden Gems in Cheshire

By Jenny Schippers – 1st December 2020
hidden gems in Cheshire

10 of the Best Hidden Gems in Cheshire

 

There are so many reasons why I love living in Cheshire. Its rich industrial heritage, the rolling countryside, and bustling towns make for a perfect staycation without having to venture more than an hour from home. So rather than looking further afield, why not consider staying local and ticking off some of the best hidden gems in Cheshire.

  • Always check opening times and reopening information prior to visiting.

 

Hidden Gem 1: Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden

Witherwin Avenue, Grappenhall, Warrington, WA4 3DS

 

Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden is the last remaining section of the original Grappenhall Heys Estate, founded by banking tycoon Thomas Parr, and consists of two ornamental ponds, a kitchen garden, and conservatories. Now surrounded by new build housing, this oasis of calm serves residents and visitors alike with a safe space to walk, picnic, and space for children to play. During the summer months, many choose to walk into Grappenhall Village from here or out into the surrounding countryside. The onsite ApèsBar Café is open Friday – Sunday serving a selection of cakes and light bites, you can find my recommendation write up about the café here. The Walled Gardens are free to visit (with free parking) and are open Tuesday – Thursday 1 – 4 pm and Friday – Sunday 10 am – 4 pm. Toilets are available on café opening days.

 

Hidden Gem 2: Bunbury Mill and Village

Bowe’s Gate Road, Bunbury, Tarporley, CW6 9PP

 

Although currently closed, the quaint Bunbury mill is nestled in a beautiful spot close to Bunbury Village. The grounds include the historic water mill, a visitor centre which offers guided tours, a picnic area, and a café. The ponds and gardens are home to an array of wildlife which makes for a pleasant place to sit or walk. Keep an eye on their website for updates on reopening however, in the meantime, a visit to Bunbury village is still worthwhile. Situated three miles from Tarporley, this rural hamlet is steeped in history and made up of four parts: Higher Bunbury, Lower Bunbury, Bunbury Heath, and Bunbury Common. The imposing St. Boniface Church serves as a central point and is worth a visit when passing. During the month of December (1st-24th December) you can follow the Advent Window Trail, with a new window being revealed daily along the route.

 

Hidden Gem 3: Anderton Nature Park

Lift Lane, Anderton, Northwich, CW9 6FW

 

Situated next to the Victorian Anderton Boat Lift and close to the town of Northwich, this 350-hectare nature reserve stretches along the banks of the River Weaver and Trent & Mersey Canal. With both a mix of waterside paths, woodland trails, and open fields, the circular walks are categorised as ‘easy’, so perfect for those with children. The whole area is the legacy of the old salt and soda ash industries that once dominated the landscape, and these reminders make for an interesting day out. The Anderton Boat Lift is an iconic sight in Cheshire and is considered one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Waterways’. Although currently closed, keep an eye on their website for updates on the visitor centre and café reopening. I have written a blog for fellow North West blogger, Monica Lucy, all about our day out at the Anderton Nature Park during the first lockdown and you can read about it here.

 

Hidden Gem 4: Knutsford Town

Tatton Street, Knutsford, WA16 6AG

 

I had the pleasure of working in Knutsford for several years and I discovered many hidden gems within the small town centre when I was here daily. There is an incredible history to Knutsford that seeps out of every building, street name, and windy alleyway. There is evidence that the area was occupied from as early as 8000BC and the name ‘Knutsford’ is derived from ‘Cunestesford’, derived from the Danish King Canute, appearing in the Domesday Book of 1086. Today, it remains one of the most visited places in the County however many just visit the famous Tatton Park Estate and ignore the town itself. Make sure to visit the indoor market, The Courtyard Café (home to the only Penny Farthing Museum in the UK), and The Moor park. There are plenty of small, independent shops and restaurants to visit making it a great place to spend the day.

 

Hidden Gem 5: Nantwich

Snow Hill, Wall Lane, Nantwich, CE5 5DN

 

The historic market town of Nantwich lays claim to having one of the largest collections of half-timbered buildings in the UK, second only to Chester with the county. With its origins dating back to Roman times, Nantwich is a real must-visit in Cheshire. Sitting close to the River Weaver, on the Southern edge of Cheshire, the bustling high street and the busy market creates a vibrant atmosphere. The Nantwich Museum is currently closed, however, keep an eye on their website for updates as it is really worth a visit. Other sights include Churches Mansion, the oldest building in the town, and the only timbered building to avoid the Great Fire 1583 that destroyed most of the town. Take a seat outside the Nantwich Bookshop overlooking St. Mary’s Church and watch the world go by. For an itinerary of how best to spend the day in Nantwich, please take a read of my article for Cheshire Life here.

Hidden Gem 6: Jodrell Bank

Macclesfield, SK11 9DW

 

Located just South of Knutsford is the imposing Jodrell Bank. This famous Cheshire landmark can be seen for miles around and the famous Grade I listed Lovell Telescope has been dominating the landscape for nearly 70 years. The whole site has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status thanks to its international significance and the research work by Manchester University that takes place from the centre. Although the indoor Space Pavilion remains closed, the outdoor exhibits include the popular whispering dishes, Jodrell Bank Arboretum, and the onsite gift shop and café with the profits funding future research. Whilst visiting the area, be sure to stop for lunch at the nearby Swettenham Arms and neighbouring Quinta Lovell Arboretum. During the Summer months, the fields behind the Swettenham Arms are full of lavender to enjoy.

 

Hidden Gem 7: Lewis Carroll’s Birthplace and Centre

All Saint’s Church, Daresbury, Warrington, WA4 4AE

 

For many that know little about Cheshire, the one thing they will be able to reference is the famous ‘Cheshire Cat’ and it’s brimming smile, brought to life in the works of Lewis Carroll and his famous book ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Cheshire is proud of its association to such a well-loved children’s classic and visitors to the area can visit Lewis Carroll’s birthplace close to the tiny village of Daresbury which houses the Lewis Carroll Centre (currently closed).

The parsonage where Lewis Carroll was born is now bequeathed to the National Trust and is approximately 1.5 miles from the centre of Daresbury (follow the signs). Today visitors can stroll the narrow path through fields to where the original building once stood, unfortunately, destroyed by fire over 100 years ago. Wrought iron sculptures now outline where the parsonage once stood, and a dormouse design can be seen covering the well. Back in Daresbury the Lewis Carroll Centre is adjacent to All Saint’s Church and is a small but interesting exhibition describing the history behind the author and his stories.

Ensure to make a stop at Daresbury Dairy Ice Cream Farm when passing to pick up a scoop of their famous Cheshire ice cream.

 

Hidden Gem 8: Little Moreton Hall

Congleton, CW12 4SD

 

This iconic, and very wonky, moated Tudor home is four miles south of Congleton and close to a fellow National Trust site worth a visit, Biddulph Grange Garden. Unfortunately, Little Moreton Hall remains closed, but it is one of the region’s hidden gems and should be included in any National Trust repertoire when the doors reopen. With its highly irregular floors and ceilings, the National Trust describes the property as being ‘lifted straight from a fairy story, a gingerbread house’. The sandstone bridge that crosses the moat onto the hall’s own island really evokes memories of childhood stories and the history of the estate will appeal to all ages. With the earliest parts of the building dating back to 1504, this top-heavy manor house appears to defy gravity.  The grounds include the formal ‘knot garden’ which was replanted to replicate the original style sympathetic to the Tudor period.

 

Hidden Gem 9: Cholmondeley Castle Garden

Malpas, Cheshire, SY14 8AH

 

This stunning 19th Century castle located within a wider 70-acre estate including landscaped gardens is the perfect place to spend the day. Located close to the A49, north of Whitchurch and south of Tarporley, this stunning area skims the Welsh border hence the abundance of castles close by, including Beeston and Peckforton, with the latter housing a luxurious hotel. Cholmondeley Castle is still resided in by the Cholmondeley family and the grounds here have been occupied in some capacity since Norman times.

Within the wider estate, you can visit the Chapel, enjoy a lakeside walk as well as the formal gardens complete with a café, picnic, and play area. Nearby the Cholmondeley Arms is a fantastic place to stop for lunch as well as the adjacent farm shop to pick up supplies. BeWILDerwood Cheshire, the latest outdoor adventure playground to hit the county, is located just down the road.

 

Hidden Gem 10: National Waterways Museum

South Pier Road, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, CH65 4FW

 

Sitting where the Shropshire Union Canal meets the Manchester Ship Canal at Ellesmere Port, the National Waterways Museum celebrates the rich history and the role the waterways played in shaping Cheshire. Although currently closed, keep an eye on their website for updates on reopening; in the meantime, you can take the virtual tour of the site on their website. As well as the Waterways Museum there is the Victorian Docks walk, Power Hall and Pump House, and Blacksmith’s Forge. There is also the opportunity to take a boat trip alongside the café, gift shop, and plenty of space for picnics.

Make sure to tag me in your Cheshire adventures @girlabout.cheshire and by using the hashtag #makingmemoriesincheshire

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This is a Girl About recommendation. This means that it was not gifted in return for a review but paid in full by our writer and the venue had no idea that I was there. We only recommend places we absolutely love, and places that we know you’ll love too!

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