5 great dog-friendly pub walks in Cheshire
PUBLISHED: 00:00 22 December 2020
A dog, a walk, a pub
A new Cheshire book has all three, so get out the boots, call your trusted companion and head for our great outdoors
The heart of winter is a magical time for walkers. Bundling up in thermals and woollens, stepping out into the crisp morning air, traversing frost-covered fields and (if you’re lucky) enjoying a blast of low winter sun — there’s nothing like it. And if you can round off your countryside ramble by diving into a local pub (current Covid regulations permitting) to refuel and cosy-up by an open fire, then so much the better.
Cheshire is blessed with plenty of places to make the most of winter walking. The hard part can be choosing a route. The new guide from Countryside Books, Cheshire Dog Friendly Pub Walks, rounds up 20 carefully chosen and diligently checked routes from across our varied county. These tried-and-tested circular walks, all between one and 5.5 miles long, have been designed specifically with dogs and their owners in mind, which means lots of off-lead time, and they also avoid endless stiles or frequent brushes with boisterous bovines. Each walk also starts and finishes at a great pub where your canine companion will be welcomed with open arms. Not that you need a dog to enjoy these walks.
Along the way you’ll explore sprawling country estates, lonely estuarine marshes, quaint villages, pretty river banks and canal towpaths. You’ll discover remnants of the salt trade, lost harbours, geological curiosities, historic buildings and wildlife-rich heaths and woodlands.
Highlights include some spectacular views around Frodsham Hill and Delamere Forest; woodland and tranquil countryside around Lindow, Tatton Park and Wood Lane; stretches of the Wirral Way, Trans Pennine Trail and the Salt Line; waterside walks by the River Dee, Pickmere Lake and the Trent and Mersey Canal.
Here, we’ve rounded up five of our favourite walks from the new book for you to enjoy this year.
Lindow (4¾ miles)
Pay attention if your dog drags anything unidentified from the heather of Lindow Moss: in 1983, peat-workers discovered a human skull here.
Police initially suspected that it belonged to a local missing person and her husband duly confessed to her murder… only for the skull to be carbon-dated and found to be that of nearly 2,000 years old!
However, that grisly tale shouldn’t put you off your stride here. This walk crosses three protected areas – Lindow Moss, Newgate Nature Reserve and Lindow Common – and passes two attractive lakes, Rossmere and Black Lake.
The Plough & Flail, at which this route starts and finishes, is a stylish pub and a hit with dogs and their owners, with free doggie treats and water bowls always available.
Petty Pool & Whitegate (5½ miles)
A permissive path allows through access to Petty Pool, a pretty and secluded wooded lake that is probably unknown even to some locals.
Much of the surrounding area belonged to Vale Royal Abbey, an important Cistercian hub founded by Edward I.
He originally had great ambitions for the foundation, but his interest wandered and it was eventually closed by Henry VIII during the dissolution of the monasteries, and it is now a private golf club.
As well as the lakes and pretty Whitegate village, this walk includes attractive woodland and an easy, traffic-free section of the Whitegate Way, a former railway line.
Middlewich (3½ miles)
For most of us, nothing quite beats the allure of a waterside walk.
If that’s you, you’ll love this serene route, right in the heart of Cheshire. And when you have completed this route, you will have walked the entire length of one of Britain’s historic canals — all 150 feet of it.
In truth, the Wardle Canal is no more than a legal fiction, but if you count it as a separate body of water, this walk includes encounters with three different canals and three rivers.
The walk itself is a 3.5-mile circular route, taking in the northern end of Middlewich. It starts at The Big Lock pub, which sits right on the canal. This is a peaceful, leafy walk for almost its entire length, with the bonus of some historic canal and riverside architecture (explained on interpretation boards).
Penketh (4¼ miles)
What was once a scene of post-industrial dereliction is now a fine place for a stroll, despite the urban presence of nearby Warrington and the cooling towers of the Fiddler’s Ferry Power Station on the skyline downstream.
Visitors today can simply appreciate the peace and quiet of the disused Sankey Canal and the grandeur of the mighty Mersey as it broadens towards its iconic estuary.
The Ferry Tavern (famed locally for its fish and chips) is a dog-friendly haven at the end of a no-through road, squeezed between the river and canal. Markers within the bar show the alarming height of past floodwater, but in normal conditions the riverside garden is a placid place to recover after a walk.
If you find yourself needing a pit-stop along the way, we can heartily recommend the Black Horse, conveniently located at the midway point in Sankey Bridges.
Barrow & Broomhill (3¾ miles)
Great Barrow stands on a hill between Milton Brook, Barrow Brook and the River Gowy, so despite its modest height above sea level the views are surprisingly good. A notable feature of the local landscape is a pair of community woodlands, both visited on this route, which are testament to the public-spiritedness of the locals.
If time permits and your dog can be trusted around cattle and sheep, you could consider extending your walk to Plemstall (see map), a tiny hamlet with a fine church set among the remote Gowy water meadows.
Start & Finish: The White Horse Inn, Main Street, Great Barrow
Sat Nav: CH3 7HX
How to get there: Turn off the A51 between Tarvin and Chester at the Stamford Bridge Inn, on to the B5132 signposted to Bridge Trafford and Barrow. After ¾ mile, you enter the village of Great Barrow, passing the right-turn to St Bartholomew’s Church. Either park on the left, or turn right into Main Street, signposted Barrow, to reach the White Horse on the right after 100 metres.
Parking: The White Horse has a large car park for patrons, but there is ample free, street parking nearby: try the B5132 towards the church from the junction with Ferma Lane and Main Street.
Recommended pub: The White Horse Inn is a traditional coaching inn with rooms. Dogs are welcome throughout and water bowls are available. whitehorsebarrow.co.uk
1. Turn right outside the White Horse along Main Street (heading away from the B5132). Between the village hall and the old pump, carry straight on into Mill Lane, a no-through road. The brick cottages by Barrow Village Hall are a Grade-II listed building, dated 1718. The White House, on the left a little way down Mill Lane, is also listed at Grade II, but is a century older.
2. After 250 metres, turn left through a metal kissing gate at a footpath sign. The path, fenced at first, follows the stream into open fields, which may contain livestock. Follow the field edge to a further kissing gate, beyond which a fenced path leads out to the road.
3. Turn right, shortly passing a water treatment plant. At a road junction, turn left into Hollowmoor Heath and follow the road for 300 metres to a further junction, where you again turn left, passing Barrow Social Club on the left.
4. At a ‘disabled people’ sign, turn right into NABS Wood, an area of community woodland. Access to NABS Wood (named after the initials of the owner’s grandchildren) is provided on a permissive basis. Should this ever be withdrawn, a formal right of way offers an alternative along the bottom of the wood (see map). Ferma Wood, passed during the latter stages of the walk, also offers access on a similar basis, and is run by a local trust. Keep left at a fork and follow a grassy path ahead to a bench, where you bear left to meet a public footpath running along the bottom of the wood. Turn left to a kissing gate into open fields, which again may contain livestock. Ignore a path to the left along the side of the wood, instead continuing along the bottom of the field to a kissing gate in the bottom corner. Continue along the bottom of the field to a stile. Cross the field ahead to a second stile. Follow the field edge towards a brick barn conversion, then go through a gate and follow a fenced path down to the stream. Turn left and follow the stream to a gap in the hedge. Continue along the stream ignoring a footbridge on the right.
5. On reaching the road by the bridge, turn left for 150 metres to a road junction. Turn right and follow Broomhill Lane for ½ mile.
6. Cross over and follow the farm drive of Meadow Lea Farm, descending between rocky banks past a house (ignore a footpath up steps on the left) to the farm. You may encounter cows here at milking time, so if in doubt, put your dog on a lead.
7. Pass the farmhouse and turn left through a gate at the end of a barn, into a hedged track. Continue past a second gate and pass a stile on the left where a footpath joins. The path bends right to a gate, then left; unless you’re diverting to Plemstall across the water meadows, ignore a path on your right, and then another on the left.
8. The path bends left to Ferma Wood, and then right along the bottom of the woodland to a gate that gives permitted access to the community woodland. Continue along the main path, Ferma Lane, which develops into a track and climbs the hillside.
9. At the footpath junction, turn left and walk out to the B-road, ignoring a turning on the left. You can head straight on to return to The White Horse, but for a short diversion past the church, cross and turn right, taking the first left signposted to St Bartholomew’s Church. The church is Grade-II listed. A little medieval stonework remains in one aisle, but the church was largely rebuilt in 1671, with the tower added in 1744. The celebrated Chester architect John Douglas carried out two further restorations in the 19th century. A former ‘standing cross’ in the churchyard has been converted into a sundial. Follow the track to the right of the church gates, bearing left past the lychgate and war memorial. At the end of the wall, turn left into a walled path, which emerges by the village hall. Turn left to return to the White Horse.
You can download a PDF version of this walk, to print or take with you on your phone, by visiting bit.ly/barrowwalk