Woodland view of trees and plants in autumn

A Visitor's Guide to Delamere Forest

Spread across more than 2,400 hectares of Cheshire countryside, Delamere Forest is one of the largest wooded areas in the county. Managed by the Forestry Commission, the forest landscape encompasses deciduous and evergreen woodland, meres, open spaces and rolling hills, attracting over 1.5 million visitors per year. The area has been continuously wooded since the last Ice Age, approximately 10,000 years ago. Today it is carefully managed for timber production as well as recreation. From hiking to biking, aerial adventures to concerts under the stars, Delamere has a myriad of facilities and attractions drawing nature lovers, thrill seekers and families alike. This ancient forested realm offers a peaceful respite and an escape into nature, whether you stick to the waymarked trails or venture off the path to discover hidden delights. With welcoming cafes, cosy holiday cottages and quaint nearby pubs, it makes for an ideal base to explore this enchanting woodland that plays host to sporting events, seasonal festivities and chart-topping musicians.

Delamere Forest Attractions and Things To Do

Delamere Forest provides an abundance of things to see and do within its wooded confines and grassy clearings. Outdoor pursuits cater for all ages and abilities across every season. Adventurers can take to lofty heights whilst little ones enjoy enchanting play zones, and that's just a taster of what's in store.


Walking Trails

With over 240km of walking trails traversing lush valleys, trickling streams and wild woodland outcrops, Delamere Forest offers an alluring network of waymarked paths and off-track routes perfect for short strolls or full-day hikes. Families can amble easy 1km loops whilst more serious ramblers stride up to Sandstone Ridge. The 6km Old Pale trail remains the most popular for good reason. Undulating through birch and oak stands, it delivers bucolic views across the forest from Eddisbury Hill. Linking up with the Sandstone Trail and Baker Way near Kelsall, keen hikers can notch up marathons within myriad marked routes that let you escape civilisation and lose yourself amidst enchanting forest scenes of dappled sunlight and gnarly roots.


Whatever your ability level, free maps from the Delamere Forest visitor centre outline graded paths. Novice walkers might enjoy flatter, surfaced Forestry Commission trails orissions, like multiple trails that wind past the glittering waters of Hatchmere Lake then loop back via grassy clearings speckled with gorse and Silver birch. More challenging options include the long-distance Sandstone Trail traversing the wooded Frodsham hill ridge between Delamere and Wharton then plunging into vagrant Meres and Mosses filled with plant curious plant species. Numerous circuits link up with the Sandstone Trail or Mid Cheshire footpaths for even longer rambling potential. With kid-friendly routes, dog-friendly areas and regular waymarkers even in densely wooded zones, Delamere makes walking through magical woodland vistas accessible for all. Just be sure to don waterproofs and stout boots to tackle muddy trails after the Delamere Forest weather turns dank.


Cycling Routes

While renowned as a walker's playground, Delamere Forest also delivers over 60 kilometres of dedicated off-road trails tempting mountain bikers and leisurely peddlers alike. Looping through pine plantations and thick broadleaf stands, narrow dirt tracks snake across rolling ridges with thrilling descents.


Catering to all skill levels, routes are graded by difficulty and start from an unpaved car park east of the visitor centre, known as Pedal the Park. Grab trail maps from the bike shop then battle the lung-busting 1.2km incline aptly named Cardiac Hill or follow gentler gradients contouring Hatchmere and Blakemere's picturesque pools. Expert-level mountain bikers gravitate towards the technical 19km black-graded Scots Pine route packed with challenging switchbacks and adrenaline-pumping descents like The Corkscrew spanning 137m along an average 17% gradient - even pros get off to walk sections. Beginners should stick to green routes like the 7k Blakemere Loop with easier trail surfaces. With bike wash stations, repairs, outfitter shops plus café and picnic spots, the dedicated cycling zone makes a superb base, especially for mountain bike debutants. Bike hire starts from £30 for quality Voodoo full suspension models to tackle rugged terrain minus breaking your ride. Just be wary that conditions deteriorate after heavy Delamere Forest weather. Call ahead for friendly advice on the best trails matching your party’s proficiency since venturing beyond skill levels amid slippery slopes and gnarly tree roots soon takes the gloss off!

Delamere Forest
Delamere Forest

Go Ape High Ropes

Daredevils and nervous newbies alike flock to Go Ape Delamere Forest seeking airborne thrills across rope bridges, Tarzan swings and heart-stopping ziplines spanning lush canopies beside serene Ashton’s Lake. Safely clipped to continuously checked harnesses, challengers as young as 10 can confront crossings rising 10m off the forest floor.


Split into instructional low ropes and adrenaline-fix high ropes, adventurers quickly get into the swing of things on test pieces before tackling elevated obstacles like the dizzying Treetop Challenge crossing to King Swing lookout point. Clear signposts, solid anchors and friendly coaches carefully talk you through each stage, building courage to overcome fears. With routes graded progressive silver through gold to black expert level, beginners might stick to lower silver crossings between sturdy platforms and truncates to garner confidence whilst ninja warriors unleash inner Tarzan's stringing complex rope crossings and hurtling flimsy bridges without a second glance. Zipping 150-foot-long ziplines high over Ashton's Lake proves the ultimate rush for many. Safety sits at the core of Go Ape Delamere with secure harnesses checked before anyone departs platforms. However, don't let trepidation limit your experience since courses allow you to stop at any point. Confront bite-size challenges at your own pace or unleash your inner gibbon-stringing daredevil crossings high across pine stands fringing the sparkling mere for maximum exhilaration!



Beyond pretty Hatchmere and Blakemere Lakes brimming with water lilies lies legions of cunning common carp, sprightly tench, fighting pike and perch plus decorative koi carp introduced to enliven angler's prospects. As fairly easily accessible waters, they offer family-friendly fishing prospects without demanding long treks between prime swims. Most areas require a standard EA rod license obtained from local tackle shops or Post Office plus closed season prohibits fishing from 15th March until June 15th protecting spawning stocks. However, the visitor centre lagoon welcomes all ages to try their luck casting a line from mown grass banks - no permit necessary. Novices might hook decent roach, rudd or even surprisingly large crucian carp.


For dedicated anglers, Blakemere and Hatchmere hold reasonably plentiful stocks across numerous pegs. Target lively carp with sweetcorn hook baits, corn and pellet mixes alongside float tactics near overhanging vegetation spots where fish haunt. Methods like laying PVA mesh stocked with freebies across the lake bed also prove productive. Early mornings and evenings tend to yield more bites. Whilst peaceful shorelines mean you'll mostly witness little more than ripples as a float dips occasionally, it provides a wonderful opportunity to admire buzzards gliding over stands of Scot’s Pine, spotted Flycatcher swooping through sunshine glades and dragonflies whirring over lily fringed inlets. Just be sure to apply liberal repellent to deter less-welcome guests like midges and mossies!


Segway Tours

For an unusual way to admire Delamere Forest's enchanting meres, magical woodlands and sprawling lowland landscapes at a gentle pace, All Terrain Segway tours deliver guided trips across intriguing back routes and restricted tracks off-limits to regular visitors. After a briefing to master steering the self-balancing electric vehicles, small groups accompany a Countryside Ranger along charming trails to uncover secret sights most tourists never reach. Glide along reed-fringed lake shores spying wildfowl, delve through sun-speckled glades of ancient oaks and twist across open hillsides with panoramic views.


With friendly guides revealing facts, myths and insider tips, passengers from ages 12 to 92 benefit from local knowledge to enrich sightseeing. Whether you're intrigued by indigenous flora, curious birdlife or centuries of human activity shaping this realm, Segway trips fuse information with fun as you silently roll across terrain without puffing and panting on foot. By crossing wilderness usually only visited by rangers on quad bikes, tours twist down centuries-old drover’s paths to reach tranquil areas motor vehicles can’t access. They represent a rare opportunity to reach remote parts of the forest otherwise off-limits to visitors. Whether you fancy lakeside sightseeing or off-road adventures on restricted tracks, Segway trips let you immerse deeper into Delamere’s myriad landscapes easily.

Delamere Forest
Delamere Forest

Play Zones

Beyond its reputation for hiking trails and daring high rope exploits, Delamere Forest also caters for kids seeking excitement, exercise and entertainment across two excellent play zones tailored for all ages with parents happily watching on rather than hustling tired toddlers around woodland walks. The huge wooden play area at the visitor centre keeps ages 2-12 smiling for hours. Little ones start on mini slides and mirror mazes moving onto wobbly bridges, twisting tube slides, climbing towers and zip lines circling the site so parents can easily supervise fun. When energy inevitably dips, the neighbouring Station House Cafe serves perfect iced smoothies and waffles to revive young adventurers.


For older kids seeking independence discover the Xplorer Challenge. This clever orienteering pursuit for ages 7-14 uses electronic GPS units rented from the visitor centre guiding groups to navigate 2.5 kilometres of trails locating markers and answering questions to complete the mission. It's like a technological treasure hunt unlocking the forest’s natural wonders. With playgrounds and activities focused on enjoying surroundings rather than just burning energy, kids gain meaningful engagement with nature amidst hours of wholehearted fun with new friends. Whether you have a toddler or tween in tow, purpose-built play time ensures Delamere Forest appeals to every age beyond those just passing through on bikes or boots.



Beyond waymarked walking trails lies an intricate permanent orienteering course allowing intrepid visitors to challenge themselves by navigating between sneaky control points concealed across the forested landscape. Home to the Deva Orienteers club, it's regarded as one of the UK’s best permanent courses thanks to phenomenal terrain. Using specially created maps, participants armed with compasses plot routes locating controls via deer tracks, stream crossings, ponds and rock formations rather than simply following paths. With over 75 waypoints spanning loops of varying difficulty, it tests both physical stamina and mental agility for ages 8 and upwards. Novices might begin on designated yellow courses focused around Blakemere and Hatchmere which have regular start points and an orderly sequence of checkpoints to build basic map reading capabilities. Veterans seeking tougher challenges can pick from red and blue courses with complex route choices, longer legs between markers and cunning placement demanding peak concentration.


With optional SI Card hire for digitally recording waypoints at £1 per person, it adds competitive excitement. Supporting materials help beginners grasp the basics before hitting the forest alone. Whilst some waymarkers remain all year round, control points get moved intermittently to keep visitors on their toes! Seeking controls through wild terrain rather than visitor hotspots allows a wonderfully immersive adventure. Just be sure to wear suitable footwear and clothing for all weather conditions. And take spare batteries for GPS units which sap power rapidly when tracking through dense forest habitat. You'll surely discover beautiful bosky dells far beyond crowded country lanes.


Nature Spotting

Looking beyond captivating forest scenery, a thriving ecosystem exists in Delamere's mosaic of woodland, lowland heaths, meres and mosses. From rare black poplars to purple hairstreak butterflies, there are wonderful endemic species to spot across changing seasons if you know where to search. In spring, carpets of bluebells bloom beneath soaring oaks surrounding Old Pale hide and Hatchmere's fringing alders, filling the air with sweet floral scent. Patches of golden gorse soon emerge across open hillsides offering cosy nesting spots for calling chiffchaffs and willow warblers. Keep eyes peeled near gaps in the forest canopy and around Blakemere Moss for buzzards elegantly gliding whilst floating rafts of fluffy greylag goslings chirp loudly under their parent’s watchful gaze. By shadowy pools, frogspawn coagulates soon wriggling with ravenous tadpoles.


In high summer Dragonflies and damselflies in iridescent blue, emerald and red take to sunny glades darting over ponds where flowering yellow flag irises stretch tall. July brings purple hairstreak butterflies roosting high in oak canopies and several species of bats emerge from roosts at dusk including whiskered bats and brown long-eared bats. As autumn approaches mushrooms and toadstools erupt across the forest floor turning woodland walks into magical fairy realm adventures. Scheid and red start flocking to berry-laden holly and rowans. While wildlife sightings rely on luck, most patient observers should spy hairy woodpeckers, nervous fallow deer, buff ermine moths or other captivating creatures that call this precious place home across the seasons.


Where to Eat and Drink in Delamere Forest

Although the forest itself feels remote, there are cosy pitstops and popular pubs just a short drive away when it’s time to refuel with hearty homemade fayre after working up an appetite from your chosen pursuits.


Delamere Station House CaféThe contemporary Station House Café located at the visitor centre is the central go-to for home-cooked lunches, barista coffee and sweet treats after a bracing walk or bike ride within the forest surroundings. Towering floor-to-ceiling windows allow diners to admire panoramic views across the wooded hills. The menu champions produce from artisan local suppliers including sausages from multi-award-winning Connah’s Quay butcher, breads from the Flour Sack bakery and ice creams from Cheshire Farm. Enjoy the outdoor deck on sunny days then browse the quaint farm shop next door. It represents the heart and soul of the forest community.


Connah's Quay Golf Club RestaurantGolfers and non-golfers are equally welcome at the smart restaurant within Delamere Golf Club, whether popping in for coffee and cake or a silver service three-course dining experience overlooking the smooth green fairways. The contemporary space matches fine food with attentive hospitality and amazing views. Seasonal menus fuse classic British cooking with continental influence across starters, mains and indulgent desserts paired with new world wines. Sunday roasts are renowned across the county - be sure to book in advance. They also cater for special events in various suites with free parking onsite


The Fishpool InnNestled in the quaint village of Fishpool, just a five-minute drive from Delamere Forest, The Fishpool Inn lives up to its name when it comes to standout food. Behind the cosy low-beamed interior lies a tempting menu championing pub classics alongside creative seasonal signatures constructed around produce from the lush surrounding Cheshire countryside. Most ingredients are sourced within a 25-mile radius and then transformed into hearty favourites like steaks, pies and beer-battered cod alongside weekly changing specials. Their fish and seafood selection shines thanks to a dedicated fishmonger supplier - hence the name. Frequented more by hungry locals than tourists, booking is essential to avoid disappointment, especially on weekends.


Hatchmere Lake Kiosk Cafe: When sunny days call for refreshments in an idyllic setting, the petite Hatchmere Lake Kiosk Cafe serves to pipe hot drinks, sweet treats and ice creams from a quaint log cabin overlooking the reed-fringed mere. It makes a lovely pitstop when exploring the nature reserve without traipsing back to the visitor centre.


Forest Holidays Luxury Cabins: For visitors craving home comforts and a good night's sleep under the stars, the four and five-star Forest Holiday cabins dotted around the fringes of Delamere Forest offer cosy yet contemporary lodgings with modern facilities including private hot tubs. Whether you opt for standard Golden Oak or spacious Emperor cabins, each is perfectly positioned for woodland exploring.

Snowy Delamere Forest
Delamere Forest in Autumn

Delamere Forest Campsite

Those dreaming of tuning into nature 24/7 can pitch a tent on Delamere Forest's Camping and Caravanning Club site with well-drained grass pitches, hot showers and laundry facilities. This secluded campground adjacent to Old Pale Wood delivers panoramic views and a true sense of escaping civilisation without sacrificing key amenities.


Offering the perfect basecamp for outdoor enthusiasts, the campsite has over 80 spacious pitches across three neat fields, two permitting camper vans. Choose from open or shaded plots on the Lower Hillside for Sylvan views or secluded corners beside the babbling brook on Valley Field for maximum serenity. A limited number of electric hook-up points means BYO generators on most pitches. However, all benefit from excellent drainage and level-reinforced gravel terraces suitable for awnings. Facilities include potable drinking water taps, waste disposal points and well-maintained washrooms replete with hot showers, toilets and laundry equipment. The campsite understands tent trekkers' needs. An outdoor boot cleaning station tackles muddy feet while the camper’s barn offers secure kit storage allowing overnight hikes without lugging gear around all day. Kids burn energy on the playground beside reception as parents recharge devices on available USB sockets before sleeping.


Come summer evenings, guests often gather fireside under twinkling stars to trade stories, roast marshmallows and soak up the magical wild setting as owls hoot a lullaby. Clear your lungs with crisp dawn air then stroll straight into the enchanted forest from your pitch to beat the crowds on walking trails. What better way to rest and refuel between adventures? With the Old Pale car park just a 10-minute walk from most pitches, exploring the forest on foot or bike is wonderfully convenient. Well-behaved dogs are welcome year round making it a haven for adventure-loving families who relish back-to-basics tent life without compromising proximity to superb attractions like Go Ape high ropes right beside the campsite entrance.


Whilst facilities don’t stretch to campfires or commercial washing machines, waste disposal points keep the site tidy and clean. Some summer weekends require 2-3 night minimum stays but shorter stops are accommodated weekdays in low season enabling flexible adventures. Just remember to pack sufficient warm layers and waterproofs! North West England endures famously fickle weather so come equipped for all conditions. The campsite shop stocks local area maps, and cupboard basics like milk and some camping gas whilst the visitor centre café serves hearty breakfasts when you crave home comforts.

camping equipment in a tent

Annual Events at Delamere Forest

Beyond its perennial selection of outdoor adventures, Delamere plays host to a bounty of annual happenings attracting visitors from across the country, spanning flower shows, festive family events and chart-topping music concerts.

  • RHS Flower Show → Each June, a floral wonderland blossoms across Delamere as Britain’s biggest annual flower show arrives. The Rhododendron & Azalea Show transforms woodland glades into show-stopping gardens created by top designers and nurseries. Beyond admiring thousands of immaculate blooms there are shopping marquees, enticing food stalls, gardening demos and celebrity talks.

  • Forest Live Concerts → Delamere’s grassy forest clearing turns into an enchanting outdoor music venue several times each summer when Forest Live concerts grace the Sylvan stage. Previous sell-out shows have starred Stereophonics, Paul Weller, Tom Jones, Madness and Jess Glynn with pop, rock and indie acts entertaining crowds of up to 15,000 people. Book early for hot tickets!

  • Santa's Christmas Experience → From late November, families can feel the festive spirit awakening during Santa’s Christmas Experience as the forest transforms into a winter wonderland. Wander illuminated woodland trails to reach Santa’s log cabin grotto then join playful shows, have a skate on the ice rink and enjoy fairground rides, fake snow and artisan food stalls selling delicious Yuletide treats.

  • Charity Sporting Events → Thanks to the variety of trails and terrain, from rugged ridges to smooth tracks, Delamere plays host to numerous running, cycling and multi-sport challenge events where passionate locals and elite athletes alike raise money for causes close to their hearts. The community spirit helps power participants around courses including the gruelling Marathon des Sables in spring and the cheeky Santa Dash in December. There's always an event on the calendar providing extra motivation to keep fit in the forest's phenomenal landscape.

Whether you crave sky-high treetop adventures, tranquil forest walks or just the finest local fayre under a blanket of stars at the annual concerts, Delamere Forest welcomes everyone to create special memories within its ancient woodland lineage.

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