This circular walking route includes the prominent hills of Helsby and Frodsham and a section of Cheshire’s Sandstone Trail, with a healthy dose of woodland habitat thrown in for good measure.
Distance: 10.9km (6.7mi) / Elev Gain: 350m (1,148ft)
High Point: Helsby Hill - 141m
Map: OS Explorer 267 - Northwich & Delamere Forest
GPS Download: Helsby and Frodsham Hill Circular Walk
Starting Point: Helsby Quarry Nature Reserve
I’ll admit its a stretch to classify this route as a ‘mountain walk’, that said my many trips along the M56 (enroute to north wales) over the years have left me intrigued to explore the hills and surrounding woodland of Helsby and Frodsham. Having found myself at a loose end one Sunday morning in late Autumn I decided now was that time!
The terrain on this walk is undulating and varied including sandstone cliffs, woodland, tarmac, open fields and narrow enclosed paths. There is plenty to keep your inner tree hugger satisified along with some interesting manmade and natural sights. The prehistoric hilltop rampart at Woodhouse Hill also provides an opportunity to go off-piste and explore further.
In terms of navigation I’d advise downloading the GPS file (see above) as some of the navigation would be tricky (though by no means impossble) via map and compass.
There are no facilities on this walk.
Woodhouse Hill Wood
I wouldn’t normally get excited about trees, however there are some genuinly impressive mature species to be observed in Woodhouse Hill Wood! The steep sloped western escarpment of the Sandstone ridge (on the right) is home to some twisty branched beasts, the lack of leaves in late autumn only accentuating their magnificence. Some post walk research suggests a mix of Birch, Oak and Rowan are present in the woodland. Perhaps I have a future calling as a tree buff ?!
Arriving atop Frodsham Hill after the days steepest and longest ascent, the view from the sandstone edge spans approx 180 degrees. Its certainly impressive and on a clear day a number of distant landmarks provide plenty of interest – as does the evident industry closer by!
What isn’t pictured here is Frodsham War Memorial, a fitting tribute to the men of Frodsham who died in the first and second world wars. The standstone obelisk stands tall and proud, and can be seen some distance away from the west.
Frodsham Hill Woods
The walk passes through the top of Frodsham Hill Wood via the signed Sandstone trail. I stumbled upon a series of sandstone cliffs, and was in particular drawn to the deep red hues cast against a backdop of foliage and scarring displayed as pictured.
Spirit of the Herd
There is very little (none in-fact) opportunity to purchase any form of sustenance on this walk, hence I was both surprised and delighted to find this little gem of a self-serve donation station for cakes and bakes! Sometimes you just feel like a sugar hit and this little beaut delivered, with the added bonus of the procedes supporting the pony sanctuary -which in turn supports young people and adults with learning and physical disabilities. See Spirit of the Herd for more details.
Hidden amongst the tranquility of harmers wood are a number of old sandstone quarries. The white chalk marks indicate this is a location frequented by (experienced) climbers, the climbning problems in this particular quarry being predominanlty high ballers (i.e. dont try this unless you know what you are doing!)
Note – there is also a small number of parking spaces here, should you need to find an alternative spot for your vehicle.
Helsby Hill is the high point of the walk and offers panoramic views out towards Merseyside, North Wales (including Moel Famau) and beyond, as well as a birds eye view of the M56 – the distant hum of which you’ll hopefully have filtered out of your brain by now! That said Its a fantastic view if one looks beyond its obvious flaws.
Below the broad summit you can explore the sandstone cliffs and even practice some traversing and scrambling, if that’s your thing.
There are a number of unfenced and exposed cliffs – care should be taken in wet and/or windy weather, or if taking selfies!
Remember – we cannot highlight all potential hazards when out in the great outdoors. Safety is ultimately down to you. Educate yourself in safety, weather reports, navigation and equipment specific to the activity you intend to undertake and conditions/terrain you may encounter! Check out adventuresmart.uk for general outdoor safety considerations – and activity specific guidance for hill walking, paddle boarding, mountain biking and open water swimming.