The Picturesque Trail

Described as “England’s Garden Gateway”, Cheshire is particularly well blessed with top quality gardens – in fact more than one in eight of all UK garden visits take place here.

Our county is an ideal place in which to follow a route that highlights the “Picturesque”. The modern interpretation of picturesque is that of an attractive scene, beautiful or rugged, that’s ideal for framing and hanging on the living room wall. Our aim is to take you to some of the most ‘picture-perfect’ parts of our county, from the low-lying, leafy and pastoral Cheshire Plain, to the stunning views and vistas from the Peak District – and to show you how all this beauty is reflected in our gardens.

The route includes some, although by no means all, of the most magnificent and stunning sites in the county, uncovering some of its hidden gems. It features a wide range of locations, from charming country pubs to idyllic rural villages, and from ancient castles to scenic walks.

One of the finest examples of 18th century picturesque is Hawkstone Park in north Shropshire, with its winding paths, grottos and spectacular views. The gardens of Cholmondeley Castle were largely planted in the twentieth century and complement the characteristically gothic style of the castle. Tatton Park’s Japanese Garden and Eaton Hall’s wildflower meadows are equally beautiful. A short distance into North Wales, Bodnant Gardens show more formal plantings set alongside the seemingly untamed landscape of “The Dell”. There are also a further ten sites that complement the main garden destinations.

Enjoy this varied route that helps you delve deep into Cheshire’s countryside and to explore some of the county’s best kept secrets. Choose just a few destinations – or all of them – it’s up to you. However you use this route it will give you a memorable insight into Cheshire’s picturesque past.

The beautiful and historic county of Cheshire is located in the heart of the UK. Bordering the outstanding landscapes of North Wales and the Peak District, it shares the serene pastoral countryside of nearby Shropshire.

The county also borders the vibrant and cosmopolitan urban areas of Liverpool and Manchester to the north, as well as the traditional industrial areas of the Potteries to the south. Other key destinations in England’s Northwest, such as the Lake District, are just two hours drive away.

Home to 670,000 people and host to several million visitors a year, the county is largely rural but is also home to many modern and highly successful service sector and industrial businesses.

Cheshire is well known for its attractive towns and picturesque villages. These include the world famous Roman city of Chester with a population of over 80,000 and other key destinations including Crewe (68,000 people), nearby Nantwich with its attractive half timbered buildings and Macclesfield (51,000), famous for its silk industry. In mid Cheshire the town of Northwich (40,000) is literally built on salt, which has been mined in Cheshire since Roman times. Here you can visit Britain’s only salt museum, or ride on a rare, fully restored canal Boat Lift.

Cheshire’s countryside is gently rolling, especially in the west, and is famous for its dairy farming. The Dee Estuary and the Mersey Estuary are of international importance for their ecological value. About 15 miles to the west, the central Sandstone Ridge provides some of area’s most outstanding landscapes, with tree clothed hills and magical views across the surrounding Plain. Further to the east is the Peak District National Park, which spreads into the county – providing a much more dramatic experience of bleakly romantic hills, stone walls and secluded hamlets.

Cheshire is an ancient county. Traditionally it has been larger than it is now and once incorporated the Wirral Peninsula to the west and the areas on the fringes of Manchester to the east. However, despite successive boundary changes the county is proud of a history that dates back to the very roots of England as a nation.

This has been and still is a highly prosperous area, much sought after, not only by people wanting to set up home or business here – but also by those who want to visit and experience all it has to offer. This reflects the quality of the natural environment and also the close proximity of major urban areas providing additional employment opportunities.

Cheshire is well connected to the transport network, with superb motorway access; links to the Inter City rail system (London is only two hours away); and has Manchester International Airport and Liverpool John Lennon Airport on its borders.

The high number of world-class parks and gardens, attractive market towns such as Knutsford, Neston and Sandbach, and an excellent cultural offering all add to Cheshire’s enviable quality of life.

Tourism is a major industry in Cheshire earning the county around £800 million a year. Chester is a major destination for tourists from across the world, while other visitors come to enjoy walking, cycling and riding in the delightful countryside; to visit the numerous historic homes and museums; or to pamper themselves in luxury hotels or high quality farmhouse accommodation.

On this website our two Regional Routes let you explore aspects of Cheshire’s environmental, social, economic and historic heritage in new and exciting ways.

The attraction of Cheshire as a location for business, a place to live and a destination to visit is directly linked to its quality environment, good transport links, and well preserved heritage – including many superb gardens.

The importance of unspoiled countryside and high quality landscaping are now being recognised as contributing to local quality of life – and gardens are increasingly being recognised as making a vital contribution to this feel-good factor.

Cheshire is blessed with a wealth of gardens. Indeed it has been known as ’England’s Garden Gateway’. There is a wide range of places to visit, such as the magnificent, extensive gardens at Tatton Park, which are of national significance. There are also many more destinations which, although smaller, are exceptional and unique in their own right – such as beautiful Rode Hall, with its winter snow drop walks, or the recently created Bluebell Cottage Gardens at Dutton.

Cheshire also boasts some of Europe’s biggest garden centres and other top quality tourist destinations including Britain’s largest zoo. Most gardens in the county are close to where people live – and within easy travelling distance of each other. This makes them remarkably accessible accounting for the fact that one in eight of all UK garden visits take place in Cheshire!

It is also important to remember that our gardens don’t exist in isolation – they have been created by and exist together with the wider community and countryside. Those in the west reflect the local rolling, gentle and wooded landscapes in their extensive parklands, or in the choice of garden planting. While destinations in the east may be tucked into hidden valleys in the rugged Peak District countryside.

If you have not until now visited gardens or had an interest in our horticultural heritage – read on. Our ‘Picturesque’ Route introduces you to a new way of viewing these beautiful, tranquil and timeless places. You will discover how this attractive design style has affected the diverse landscapes of “England’s Garden Gateway”. With a range of sites from pubs to gardens, and covering areas from the Cheshire Plain to the Peak District, this beautiful trail will inspire you.

For more detail on the county and what it has to offer please view the following websites:

Cheshire and Warrington Tourism Board – www.visitchester.com/garden
Tatton Park – www.tattonpark.org
Peaks and Plains – www.peakandplains.co.uk

Gardens

Cultural Landscape