Celebrating 40 years of the Sandstone Trail
Three days of celebrations saw communities from across Cheshire come together to mark the 40th anniversary of the Sandstone Trail.
Local schools, environmental craft and education groups and historical actors all came together to bring alive parts of the modern and ancient history of the popular walking route.
The first day saw Luke Neal, from the Meres & Mosses Landscape Partnership, walking much of the 34 mile trail from Whitchurch to Delamere visiting communities along the way, and carrying with him a hand-crafted giant white-faced darter dragonfly.
The rare white-faced darter dragonfly has a special new link with the trail, as it has recently been reintroduced to Delamere Forest – after ten years of absence – from other healthier dragonfly populations at the southern tip of the trail near Whitchurch.
Luke joined pupils from Tushingham Primary School at Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s new Bickley Barn education centre near Malpas, as the youngsters learned about dragonflies and other creatures on the charity’s wildlife-friendly farm on the southern tip of the Sandstone Trail.
A day later, it was the turn of Harthill to join in the celebrations, as pupils from Bickerton Primary School and visiting Windsor Primary School from Merseyside joined The Earth Skills Project based in the village to present a musical and poetry show on the village green, in front of parents and visitors from the local Bolesworth Estate.
The schools also joined local Harthill resident John Brown as The Earth Skills Project officially opened a new all-access section of the Sandstone Trail, leading out from the centre of the village, thanks to a funding boost from Cheshire West and Chester Council, The Sandstone Ridge Trust, The Bolesworth Estate and Global Industries with much of the work being undertaken by further education students and Duke of Edinburgh award participants from across the country.
The final day of Luke’s trek saw an early morning visit to English Heritage’s Beeston Castle where a traditional medieval huntsman greeted visitors.
The three day event came to a bustling finish at Delamere Forest, where the Sandstone Ridge Trust offered country crafts and costume demonstrations giving families the chance to get up-close to ancient skills like metal casting, wood-working, sword-fighting and archery, along with discovering how modern-day archaeologists connect with the history of the Sandstone Trail.
Gary Ball, Project Coordinator for the Sandstone Ridge Trust’s ‘Ridge, Rocks and Springs’ Heritage Lottery Funded Project said: “Such a fun, interactive hands-on event was a great way for families and youngsters to discover the unique landscape of Cheshire, its rich history and wildlife in marking the 40th anniversary of the Sandstone Trail.
“Working with other organisations and their volunteers has helped cement the value of heritage and conservation groups based along the Trail and we plan to continue this work along the Ridge in protecting and enhancing this special place for future generations.”
To find out more about the work of The Sandstone Ridge Trust visit: www.thesandstoneridgetrust.co.uk
You can still get involved or donate to Cheshire Wildlife Trust’s white-faced darter appeal at: www.cheshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/white-faced-darter