Cheshire - a county packed with history from Romans to Science.

Cheshire is a largely rural county, bounded by the Peak District in the east and the Welsh Hills to the west and south.  Its rich soil is perfect pasture for cattle, giving rise to the delicious Cheshire Cheese.  Whether your preference is for the white or coloured variety, the crumbly texture of a true Farmhouse Cheshire must be sampled during your visit.  Farmshops abound and there are plenty of regular farmer’s markets across the county. 

The county town is Chester, located in the west of Cheshire, on the River Dee, it is a gateway to the Wirral, Merseyside and North Wales, but more importantly, Chester is a good base for a stay in this area.  Take a walk through the centre of the city, where you will encounter timber-framed shops trading on two levels (The Rows) all with tempting window displays.  From the Eastgate Clock, climb the stairs onto the wall.  Built in Roman times, you can trace the footsteps of the Roman Guards as you walk along the wall right around the city

Another favourite walk follows the river, under the bridge to the starting point for boat trips along the River Dee.  The green banks of the river make an excellent spot to stop for a picnic, or just to watch the boats go by.  The racecourse is located close to the river, and offers a full program of racing and polo matches.  For those who prefer to ride than watch, there are many riding and trekking centres around the county to choose from.

For the children, Chester Zoo is an easily accessible day out, with plenty to see and do.  The zoo does a lot of work to help endangered species and the zoo is home to a large research team.  The zoo houses around 8000 animals from 400 different species.  There are scheduled talks and other attractions.  Take a little time to plan your visit, and take advantage of the online booking system.

Industry played an important part in the development of Cheshire, and there are now some very interesting places to visit which explain the science behind the products you take for granted.  A visit to Catalyst puts chemistry into perspective with its interactive displays that will fascinate children and adults alike.  You’ll be surprised what you will learn from a day at Catalyst.

In 1888, William Hesketh Lever created Port Sunlight as a model village for the workers at his Sunlight Soap Factory.  Today the village is preserved as a museum, but don’t let the term fool you.  Port Sunlight was designed as a garden village, and today the gardens form an important part of the village scene.  The museum depicts life in the village at various times in its history through a number of local ‘characters’.  After your visit you can take tea in the museum or visit the gift shop where such historic items as Sunlight, Lifebuoy and Pears soaps are on sale.

The town and villages across Cheshire ending in “wich” (Northwich, Middlewich etc) are the backbone of the salt industry.  The history of the industry is told at the Weaver Hall Museum in Northwich.  Children will enjoy the interactive exhibition making salt.  A really inexpensive venue, the Weaver Hall museum also depicts life in a workhouse and offers galleries covering a variety of the history of the people of this part of Cheshire.  A coffee shop provides refreshment.

Continuing the theme of industry in Cheshire, don’t miss a trip to Ellesmere Port to the National Waterways Museum. This area was once a canal dock in use up to the 1950’s.  The museum now covers a seven acre site where you can visit the forge and lock-keepers cottages, watch the locks in operation and take a guided tour on the canalboat through the basin to the Shropshire Union Canal.

If you are interested in the history of our canals, you should also take a trip into Northwich where the Anderton Boat Lift is still working.  The visitor centre takes you through the control room and explains how the lift operates.  Short boat trips on the lift are available from the visitor centre.  Check times and availability before you arrive to avoid disappointment.

More ships can be found in Birkenhead.  Here you will find a very special collection of warships, most from the recent past, including a German U boat dating from the second world war, and HMS Onyx, a submarine which saw action in the Falklands.  You will need plenty of time to visit the warships, but don’t forget that Birkenhead is also famous as a place to catch the Ferry ‘cross the Mersey to Liverpool.  The ferry offers a ‘mini cruise’ with commentary as it ploughs between its normal stopping places.  Save time at least to cross over and straight back to Birkenhead.

A visit to the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank explains how the giant telescope works, and what the research means to the rest of us.  Learn about the planets and how the universe began, then relax in the cafe and beautiful gardens.

Cheshire has a wealth of houses and gardens to visit.  The National Trust owns many varied properties around the county, with discounted entry charges for National Trust members.  Many of the houses offer regular guided tours.  Little Moreton Hall near to Congleton is a particularly interesting house and garden.

Cheshire is a varied and interesting county.  To help you to plan your stay, visit where you will also find discount tickets and special offers to help make your spending money go that little bit further.

Last updated on 23/01/2013 11:31am by Sharon Eason
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