On the march for white-faced darters

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.

Beginning last Thursday, Luke Neal from the Meres & Mosses Landscape Partnership walked 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. Frodsham Festival of Walks Group, headed south from Frodsham on Saturday to meet Luke at the finish and to join the celebrations.

Courtesy of Tom MarshallThe 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.

After setting off from Whitchurch, Luke Neal 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.

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 on Saturday at the Forestry Commission 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.


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