Chester is full of things to see and do. It has a rich history, having been the major Roman centre in the north of Britain. The city walls are still intact, and make a great walk around the city. Chester is built on the River Dee - in fact, it was a major port for hundreds of years. Today, the Dee makes a picturesque setting for a stroll or a riverboat ride - or the more energetic can hire a rowing boat of their own!
Chester Zoo - one of the world's top zoos. The huge grounds allow you to see animals from all over the world in good conditions - and the zoo is a leader in conservation programmes. You'll have a great day out and learn a lot into the bargain! 8 miles / 15 minutes from Fernlea Cottage.
Chester - world-famous black-and-white
Chester city centre is only 6 miles / 15 minutes away, with its world-famous black-and-white 'rows' - the tiered shops with walkways date from the 14th century, and house a wonderful range of boutique shops.
Shopping –as well as The Rows, the city centre has its own large shopping mall in The Forum. Cheshire Oaks is a large outlet and entertainment centre on the edge of Chester, and is only 5 miles / 10 minutes from Lavender Lodge.
Chester Cathedral - recently refurbished, the cathedral is the most complete medieval monastic complex still standing in the UK. It's in the centre of the city, along with one of its unusual points - its separate bell-tower. There is a charge for entrance.
This is the nearest village to Fernlea Cottage B& B. It’s a pretty, busy little village, with a host of independent shops and a small supermarket. There are several good places to eat, with an excellent choice of cuisines –just ask us for some suggestions.
Tattenhall is home to several houses by the architect Clough Williams-Ellis –perhaps rather more famous for Portmeirion in north Wales. If only the producers had chosen Tattenhall as the location for ‘The Prisoner’…!
Tattenhall has a long history –the lovely church of St Alban dates back to the early 16th century, and it’s thought that there may have been a church on the site as far back as Norman times. Recent work found evidence of a Roman villa –maybe the home of a retired legionary, his soldiering done and finding himself far from home.
This was built in 1225 by the Earl of Chester, but was soon seized by Henry III. It was used by him and his son Edward I in their campaigns against the native Welsh. The well is hundreds of feet deep. The castle was eventually to be a victim of the Civil War, being largely destroyed in 1646 by the Parliamentary forces.
Now owned and cared for by English Heritage, it makes a great visit, but be warned! - the climb to the top is quite steep.
Beeston Castle is an English Heritage property.
Fernlea Cottage B& B is just a twenty minute drive from Oulton Park - one the most picturesque motor racing circuits in the UK - so if you want to be handy for both Oulton circuit and for Chester we’re in the ideal spot.
Set in pleasant Cheshire countryside to the northern end of the county, it is host to many different types of racing –superbikes, touring cars, classic cars and ‘driving experience days’make it a mecca for many different fans of the internal combustion engine.
The Crocky Trail is something of a local legend –but if you’re from out of the county you’ll need an explanation! It’s a unique outdoor experience, offering a sequence of mazes, slides and rope swings set in lovely countryside just outside Chester.
The Wheels of Wonder, the Spider Trap and the Spinning Disk all await you –so don your wellies and something outdoors-ish and get stuck in! You might end up a little wet and muddy –but you’ll have a great time. Whatever your age, you’ll feel like a kid at the end of the Trail!
There are refreshments available, and they also cater for parties and team building days.
Peckforton Castle is a very popular wedding venue and is only a quarter of an hour’s drive from us along quiet country roads –so Fernlea Cottage B& B makes a much more affordable but convenient option if you’re going to a wedding at Peckforton. We can book you a taxi (let us know when you make your booking) so that you can enjoy the celebrations, safe in the knowledge that you won’t get stuck in traffic.
Peckforton Castle looks somewhat older than it actually is. Started in 1842, it was ten years in the building –making it very much a Victorian creation, rather than the medieval castle it seeks to be. Nestled in the Peckforton Hills, it looks very much the part, and plays host to many corporate events as well as weddings aplenty.
Cheshire and horses go hand in hand. There are miles of bridleways, the Delamere Loop and many centres for equestrianism. Here are just a couple of suggestions:
A favourite of equestrians all over the UK, the Bolesworth Classic is scheduled for 12-14 June 2014. Bolesworth Castle is just 5 minutes down the A41 from Fernlea Cottage B& B.
Kelsall Hill Equestrian Centre
Created by horse riders for horse riders, Kelsall Hill has events throughout the yearfor all standards of rider. It's just a 20 minute drive from Fernlea Cottage B& B.
Blue Planet Aquarium
Close to Fernlea Cottage B& B, the Blue Planet Aquarium is one of Britain’s best. Educational and entertaining in equal measure, it has a wealth of different types of underwater life for you to see. They also have a large outdoor otter enclosure –these intelligent and sparky animals are wonderful to see.
But perhaps best of all are the sharks –‘Jaws’and regular tales from warmer waters make these animals frightening on an elemental level. So it’s a revelation to be able to see them in all their majesty, as the perfectly evolved animals they are.
And if you really want to, you can actually dive with the sharks! Even if you’ve never scuba dived before, you can get in the tank with the sharks and experience their world at first hand. Go for it!
The Blue Planet Aquarium is next door to the Cheshire Oaks Shopping & Entertainment Outlet, just off J15 of the M53, and is just a 15-minute drive from Fernlea Cottage B& B.
Hoylake is just a 40 minute drive from Fernlea Cottage B& B
Eaton Golf Club and Aldersey Green Golf Club are both close to Fernlea Cottage B& B.
Eaton Green is a lovely course studded with mature trees and ponds. It boasts firm and fast contoured greens, and measures 6,580 yards for men (par 72) and 5,642 yards for women (par 73). Designed by Donald Steel, it’s a real test for amateur and pro alike.
Aldersey Green runs to 6,145 yards (par 71), and puts a premium on accuracy of the tee. Tree-lined fairways abound here, so any waywardness can soon damage your scorecard. But stick to the straight and narrow path and you’ll have a great day’s golf. With 14 lakes and surprising views looking across to Wales, the course is a very attractive place to wield a club.
- the Roman amphitheatre at Chester has been known about since 1920’s, but a major excavation project by English Heritage and the Council has revealed its importance and scale
- Grosvenor Museum in the city has excellent exhibits of Roman finds –and makes a great place to learn about the history of Chester
- there are many remnants of the Roman walls to see around Chester
- the Dewa Roman Experience in the city centre is a museum with a difference –it’s ‘hands-on’displays help you really understand what life was like in Roman times!
Erdigg - 16 miles / 30 minutes
Erdigg is an old stately home, set in lovely grounds and gardens. But what is probably unique about Erdigg is the way it has captured the interaction between family and servants - witness the collection of portraits of the servants has to be seen. Large walled garden and Victorian parterre, extensive designed parkland and 13 miles of footpaths. (National Trust)
Speke Hall -29 miles / 40 minutes
Speke Hall is something of a curiosity - a Tudor mansion that feels all the world like the setting for Cluedo, with its billiard room and trappings of Victorian and Edwardian life. Cheek by jowl with Liverpool John Lennon Airport, it's one of the lessed-known properties, but deserves not to be. Once inside, you'll forget such things as jet airliners exist. A real time capsule, and one to be relished. (National Trust)
Fernlea Cottage B& B is one of the closest B& B’s to the Sandstone Trail –a lovely medium-distance trail running from Frodsham in the north to Whitchurch in the south. It has a real mixture of landscapes, from pleasant lowland strides through meadows and woodland, to bracing climbs up to the heights of the Peckforton Hills. These are not the highest hills in the world, but they have some great views –out across the rolling Cheshire Plain to the Clwydian Hills across the Welsh border, or across the Mersey Estuary as far as Liverpool.
The trail takes most people two or three days to complete –but some hardy fools do the whole thing in a day! The record time is less than 5 hours, but we think you’d probably prefer to have a good night’s sleep and a wonderful breakfast to see you on your way.
We can arrange taxis for you –just let us know when you book and we’ll sort it out for you.
Cheshire is made for cyclists –whether you like level rolling lanes, or stiff sharp climbs you’ll find what you want here. Fernlea Cottage B& B makes a great stopping-off point, and we have secure storage for your bikes.
We’re particularly well situated for John o’Groats / Lands End (‘Groatsend’) attempts, too –stay with us and you can avoid the busy A49 in favour of a slightly more westerly route. It’s prettier, there’s less traffic and you’ll add just a few miles to your ride. And what’s a mile or two out of a few hundred?!
Cheshire is justly famed for its canals. The Shropshire Union Canal, the Trent & Mersey Canal and the Bridgewater Canal all run through the county. Tattenhall Marinais just a 6 minute drive from Fernlea Cottage B& B, so stay with us at either end of your boating holiday for a stress-free send-off and return.
The Shroppie is just a couple of miles away, and was the result of a merger of several canal companies –hence the ‘union’part of the name. Today, it’s very popular with narrow boaters, walkers and cyclists alike. Completed in 1835, it was the last major work of Sir Thomas Telford, one of the country’s great engineers.
The Trent & Mersey is part of the ‘Grand Cross’, the watery project that linked the bulk of England’s businesses long before motorways thundered across the land. It runs from Derwent Mouth on the River Trent in Derbyshire, to Preston Brook Tunnel in the north. Here, you can join the Bridgewater Canal –but no longer, ironically, the River Mersey.
The Bridgewater Canal is the daddy of them all. Opened in 1761, it was the brainchild of the Duke of Bridgewater, who according to Smiles was far fonder of canals and engineering than of polite society. But it made his fortune, providing affordable coals to the fast-growing Manchester and surrounding towns.
Parks & Gardens in Cheshire
Cheshire is justly renowned for its grand houses and gardens - here are some suggestions:
Arley Hall and Gardens are about half an hour away, near Northwich. You can also visit Stockley Working Organic Farm which is part of the estate.
Norton Priory (about 40 minutes away) is a museum and gardens all in one! The wonderfully-restored priory gardens (with their walled garden, herb garden and laburnum walk), plus the museum and Sculpture Trail, make for a fascinating visit. (Allow a couple of hours for the trail.)
Mountpleasant Gardens - an unusual sculpture garden with tremendous views, near the village of Kelsall. Regular workshops and courses. RHS members get free admission.
Cheshire has a wealth of National Trust properties, all of which are easily reached from Fernlea Cottage - Lyme Park, Tatton and Dunham Massey are just a few of the famous names. And of course Wales is just a short drive away - Erddig,Chirk Castle and Powys Castle are all well worth a visit.