Car-free adventures aroundChesterCheshire

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On these car-free Chester adventures, world travel has never been so easy. Take a walk and boat trip through Chester Zoo and you can experience Madagascan forests, Indonesian islands, African grasslands and tropical jungles all in one day. There are regular buses from Chester station to the zoo and, if you arrive by public transport, you can buy discounted combi-tickets at the station or on the bus. Chester is just two hours from London Euston by train and advance tickets start from £19. There are more wildlife adventures in Delamere Forest, Cheshire’s biggest woodland area, with its prehistoric bogs and carpets of starry sphagnum moss. Explore the industrial heritage around Northwich, also a short train ride from Chester, or walk round the old city walls and cruise along the River Dee. Who needs a car?

  • County: Cheshire
  • Great for: boat trips | forests | history | industrial heritage | museums | roman remains | walking | wildlife | zoo |
  • Refreshments: pubs, cafes and restaurants
  • Please note: researched/updated in November 2023. If anything’s changed or you have more tips to share, do get in touch:
  1. 4. Delamere Forest

    Beeches and oaks, scotch pine and coppery bracken line the meandering trails through Delamere Forest, the largest woodland area in Cheshire. Rare wildlife is drawn to the spongy prehistoric bogs with their carpets of starry sphagnum moss. Flooded Blakemere Moss is a magnet for ducks, geese, coots and gulls.

    • What to do: As well as walking and nature spotting, Go Ape offers treetop adventure and a friendly cycle shop can rent out bikes from £20 for four hours.
    • How to get to Delamere Forest: Follow Good Journey’s directions. A 15-minute train ride from Chester delivers you straight to the heart of the forest.
    • Food and drink: There’s a Forestry England visitor centre nearby and the refurbed station house is now an atmospheric café. There are daily specials with lots of vegan and veggie options like mushroom stroganoff (£6.50) or butternut couscous (£6).
  1. 5. Industrial Heritage

    Catch the train to Northwich to explore Cheshire’s industrial heritage. The Anderton Boat Lift, opened in 1875, towers on cast iron pillars over the Weaver Navigation, lifting boats fifty feet to the Trent and Mersey Canal. The canal-side Lion Salt Works in Marston reopened as a visitor attraction four years ago, after a £10 million restoration. It combines hi-tech exposition with an evocative sense of past effort. Among rusting brine tanks and brick chimneys, dioramas and projections conjure up sweaty twelve-hour shifts among the boiling salt pans (£6.25/£4 for adults/kids).

    • How to get to the Anderton Boat Lift: Bus N4 from Northwich bus station stops every twenty minutes at the Swing Bridge nearby, but, if the weather is fine you can also walk from Northwich along the River Weaver.
    • The boat lift visitor centre, viewing point and cafe are free to enter. You can also take a boat trip, along the green-banked river to the edge of the half-timbered town, and a ride up in the lift itself, where water cascades above the boat’s glass ceiling (combined trip £12.25/£7.25 for adults/kids).
    • How to get to the Lion Salt Works: It’s just over two miles beside the canal from the Anderton Boat Lift to the Lion Salt Works, and around a mile from there to Lostock Gralam station, making a lovely waterside walk. You can walk directly from Lostock Gralam, which takes about 25 minutes. See map below.
    • The Salt Works costs £6.25/£4 for adult/kids and there are several parts of the site you can visit for free, including the cafe, play area and butterfly garden.
  1. 6. Train trip to Liverpool

    Liverpool is just 45 minutes away via Merseyrail and is also packed with things to do. Look out for our car-free guide to Liverpool later in the year.

    • Buy a Saveaway ticket from Chester station for £5.55 and (amazingly) it will give you free return train travel on Merseyrail to Liverpool, unlimited bus travel once you get there and even direct ferry crossings over the Mersey!
    • Liverpool’s historic docks continue to develop as a cultural hub with several exceptional museums and galleries. There’s the huge Tate gallery with great permanent collections, including one of Naum Gabo’s constructivist steel heads and stunning views of the city; one side overlooks the docks and cathedral, while the western rooms face across the Mersey.
    • Or you can dive into the Beatles Story, on the corner of the Royal Albert dock. This engrossing museum celebrates Liverpool’s most famous sons, taking visitors in a journey from the summer of 1957 when John Lennon first met Paul McCartney at a garden fete in St Peter’s Church to the irrepressible global phenomenon they became and beyond. See Bill Harry’s messy Mersey Beat office, walk through the Cavern club and hear the screams of Beatlemania… even the loos are submarine-themed! (Thanks to The Beatles Story for the photo).
  • Delamere Forest, one of our car-free Chester adventures
  • Anderton Boat Lift; one of our Car-free Chester adventures.
  • Lion Salt Works; one of our car-free Chester adventures.
  • Chester Boat; one of our car-free Chester adventures.