“ Delamere Forest is a forest run by the Forestry Commission for the benefit of local people „
Having such a large dog requires a lot of exercise. As our dog is part grey hound and a mix of other crazy breads (we love him all the same!) he requires a copious amount of exercise, he gets to the park every day but on occasion, to give him a special treat we take him to delamere forest which is an hours drive from where we live.
Delamere forest is situated in delamere, Cheshire which is an exquisite village situated within the countryside. Delamere forest is rather out of the way and even though we have been several times we always manage to get lost on our way there. Once you have managed to find the main entrance however, there are several different car parks. These vary in price as it depends on how far away or how close you are parked to the main visitors area. The prices are roughly between £3 and £5 but that also depends on how long you are wanting to stay. Do note however that Brines Brow Car Park is free and you can stay there all day. We usually use this car park as it leads to forest areas that are more off the beaten track.
At the main visitors centre there are a range of facilities on offer, there is a small, ample shop, a cafe, toilet access and bike hire (we are yet to do this, but its scheduled into the soon to be fitness plan!) Also the main entrance is the main starting point for all of the trails on offer. We have, occasionally stuck to the trails and they are ok, they are used more so with cyclists, dog walkers (on leads only) pushchairs and wheelchair users and well, everybody else really. But most of the paths are suitable for all the above mentioned. The main trails have picnic areas and are great places for spotting wildlife whilst not getting to involved with the trees. One of the major plus points about the main trails is that it is a pick up dog poop zone, whereas the less popular trails and within the trees themselves there is a stick and flick policy which basically means pick up a stick and flick the poop else where if you think there is a danger of it being trodden in - nice!
We however like to stray of the beaten track and during the majority of visits we just walk were ever we fancy, we always get lost but that's the beauty of it. I can't say that in all of the times we have been to delamere forest we have walked the same route. Most of the other main trails are full with visitors and its nice to just get out the way, its more peaceful and quiet and of course being within the forest itself means that we can let the dog run wild. There are no lead policies anywhere of the main trails so there is a perfect opportunity to tire a dog out, especially with there being no shortage of sticks to throw.
All in all delamere forest is 950 hectares which is a very large ground to cover. It is doubtful that you would want to walk the distance but the trails provide short or long routes that take you within the forest and safely back to your car park. If however you are like us and want to be more adventurous there is really no telling how far you have walked and then how far you have to walk back but its all in good fun. There are several lakes at delamere there is the more publicised one, blakemere which you are aloud to let your dog have a paddle in etc but we never really do as it is sometimes very crowded but on one of our wonderings we found a small lake, or it could have just been a very secluded part of the main one, I'm not sure but there was nobody around for as far as we could see and it was very deep into the bushes, so we just let our dog have a long swim whilst we sat on the bank and watched.
Its difficult in a way to explain delamere forest as it is just a forest , but it really is a beautiful place, in areas there are trees that look so old, it really is a sight. On the main trails there is really just sand paths to make it easer for all access but within the forest there are a great deal of obstacles to make it more fun, there are little and big hills, and we came across a stream once which had a log going across it, that was fun to try and accomplish with a two year old.
It really is suitable for all weathers, we prefer to go in the winter as there is nothing better than a strenuous walk to warm you up, this way you can also wear wellies which I think is essential with the dog poop issue! I couldn't really wear wellies in the summer.
There are other things available at delamere forest such as go ape. I have never actually seen this on any of my visits but it is an adventure activity type thing with assault causes and rope walking etc. All of that kind of adrenaline junkie stuff, not for those scared of heights like me! Anyway if you are interested in this their website has a lot more information than I do. Delamere forest is also known for holding a concert or two, again I don't know much about this but the website holds all of the relevant information on this. I almost forgot to mention, delamere forest also sell Christmas trees around the Christmas time (way over priced if you ask me!) but they also have one of the best Santa's grottos that we have seen, we took our daughter last year and it is likely we will be taking her again this year.
I would definitely recommend a trip to delamere forest, it is the perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon and it is brilliant if you have a dog. It has access for everybody and something for all ages to do.
I was in Delamere a few weeks ago with friends on a charity dog walk raising awareness for greyhounds. It was a good place to go as not only is Delamere a very popular attraction with all ages, walkers and cyclists and adventure-seekers, but there are a lot of dog walkers at any time you go. This leads to a negative though- there are signs asking owners to keep dogs on leashes at all times and to pick up dog mess and use the bins provided, but unfortunately there are some owners who do not do this, so watch out where you step and if you're nervous of dogs stay clear. Of course the vast majority act responsibly, but it is the odd few- so just to watch out... also watch the borders- there's a stick and flick policy- it flicking poo off the path- so watch kiddies on the verges.
Other than that, the park is lovely, the largest wooded area in Cheshire, and living not too far away I've been visiting Delamere since a child. It's very easy to find, well signposted and if you're traveling by train, only a 10 minute walk from the station. Traveling by car you'll find several carparks dotted around, which do get full quickly, especially the main one by the toilets and shop and restaurant- so go early (opens 8.30-4) to avoid disapointment and have change- it costs £2-3 depending on which site you choose.
The forest includes forest, more open spaces of mainly grass (full of bugs and birds and small mammals for children to look at) and wetlands- be careful straying of the path in these areas, it's muddy and dangererous, so admire the birds and dragonflies from afar.
The cafe is reasnobly priced selling drinks, snacks and meals, and if you choose to take a picnic you'll find 3 picnic areas with bins and of course if the weathers bad you can head back to your car.
There are several well signed paths, with ratings given on their length and difficulty level. I think you'll be surprised as I was that you can you can try a harder walk and do it! As you go at your own pace the time it takes you varies- you can have a few hours strolling, or do a lap in 30 minutes- all depends on you.
You can also cycle round the forest there's 2 special paths for cyclists- one is about 4 miles, the other 7 miles- it takes about 30minutes for the shorter one at a gentle speed. When it's been raining and the trail is muddy you can use the powerwash at the info centre to clean your bike off which is a brilliant, thoughtfull facility.
If you're adventurous (unlike me!) you can try the Go Ape Treetop Assault course which looks quite hard but everyone seems to have fun. Personally I like to stand and watch for a few minutes!
Delamere Forest in Chester is a remnant of the ancient forests of Mara and Mondrum; used as hunting grounds as far back as Norman times. Now, a shadow of its former self at a 'mere' 950 hectares, the forest is a thoroughly modern tourist centre for the 21st Century.
Getting there and parking
Delamere Forest is easy to find, some 10 miles east of Chester. There are six car parks scattered around the park; some are pay and display, but my favourite, Barnesbridge Gates, is free. If this car park is full, there are plenty of parking spaces at the roadside here. Details of all the car parks can be found here:
Hundreds of years ago, the forest was a haven for wildlife. Wild boar, deer and wolves patrolled the woods, and bird life was plentiful. In the 20th Century, however, vast tracts of the ancient woodland were replaced with stands of fast growing conifers to fuel Britain's thirst for wood.
Thankfully, the wood is now managed more sympathetically, broadleaved trees have replaced many of the conifers, drained areas (such as Blakemere Moss) are being flooded and the wildlife is flourishing again.
Birds include great spotted and green woodpeckers, siskin, redpolls, and occasionally crossbills, whilst in summer, the woods will resound with the gorgeous songs of migrant warblers such as whitethroat, chiffchaff, and blackcap. Common lizards can be found here, badgers are common and Delamere is one of the first sites in the county to be re-colonised by the polecat.
The Forestry Commission which manages the forest has been very proactive in providing walking routes through the forest. There are several colour coded trails covering many miles, some with hard surfaces. One of the most popular walks in Cheshire, the Sandstone Trail passes through the forest.
The large size of the forest, and the variety of landscapes found within (conifer plantations, broadleaf trees, and wetland areas) means that the keen walker can wander for miles in quite beautiful surroundings.
Those seeking solitude (like myself) can visit early in the morning where the only companions will be the birds singing in the trees whilst the sun filters through the green canopy. At this time of day, the forest is still sleepy, mist rising from the ponds and lakes; with nature seeming to pause before beginning the day's activities.
One of my favourite walks is from Barnsbridge Gates to Pale Heights. This takes me through the woods, across farmland, to the summit of the largest hill in the region. At 587 feet high, Pale Heights towers above the forest and gives superb views of Liverpool, the Clywdian mountain range of Wales, and the Dee estuary.
Concerts! In a forest? Well yes, Delamere is getting quite a reputation as a pop venue with Jools Holland, The Sugababes, Status Quo and others, all performing here over the last few years. As an open air venue, Delamere is quite an impressive location and has been quite successful since the concerts were first organised.
With so many miles of good quality paths, it's no surprise to find that Delamere is a very popular cycling venue. Bikes can be hired from the visitor centre. There is also a dedicated mountain bike course located at Fox Howl in the west of the forest.
Go Ape is a high wire forest adventure course and the Delamere centre is the largest in the UK. Skimming along rope bridges and swinging 35 feet above the forest floor is, if you're not afraid of heights, quite an experience (don't forget to wave to me, watching from the safety of terra firma!).
There is a visitor centre at Linmere car park. The centre has a café, toilets, disabled toilets, and information centre providing maps and details about the forest. The centre is close to the start of several of the forests' trails.
Christmas at Delamere
For me this is the most magical time at Delamere Forest. The forest is used to grow Christmas trees and what better place to buy your tree than from where it was grown. Thousands of trees of several different types are for sale in December, but a trip to Delamere at this time offers so much more than buying a tree.
I usually take my nieces here; they select the tree, but only after visiting Santa's grotto. This is the best grotto I've ever seen within a wonderful location. Located in the heart of the forest, Whitefield Car Park is transformed into an honorary Lapland for a few weeks of the year.
The grotto is massive, with an indoor trail packed with trees, ornaments and exhibits for the visitor to enjoy during the inevitable queues to see the bearded old bloke.
After visiting the grotto, food can be obtained from the mobile cafés before having a look at the shop which stocks traditional and modern Christmas ornaments and decorations.
If the kids are still energetic, there's a trail through the woods to spot the various (wooden) reindeer. This trail leads to a wishing tree where the kids can leave a wish for Christmas.
I can recommend Delamere for buying your Christmas tree; the location and the efforts put into the setting make this an enjoyable day out for the whole family.
As you can hopefully see from my review, Delamere Forest Park is a wonderful resource for locals and visitors alike. The forest is extremely popular, but its size means that even on busy days, peace and solitude can be found. If you find yourself in Cheshire on a nice day and want a cheap day out, pop down to the forest and discover this lovely green oasis in the middle of the Cheshire plain.
More information, including locations and events can be found at: