Start: Barnsbridge Gate car park.

Parking: Barnsbridge Gate car park (free parking) or alternatively park at the visitor centre and start at point 6, but note that there is a charge.

Distance: 3 or 4½ miles.

Ordnance Survey Maps: Explorer 267, Northwich and Delamere Forest (GR SJ5427 15).

Dog Factors:

Road walking: None.

Livestock: None.

Stiles: None.

Nearest vets: Hollybank Veterinary Centre, Sandiway.

The Walk

1  Leave the car park at its far end on a path that bears right to join a main track. Keep ahead for maybe 20 yards to where a post stands beside the track on the right. Turn sharp left here, going uphill a little and then down, finally joining the main track around the lake beside picnic tables and a wooden signpost.

2  Turn right and continue to the next major junction (Post 61 alongside). Turn right again. In about 300 yards cross straight over a major track and continue a similar distance to a T-junction with a wide track. Go left on this track, which soon bends right to cross over the railway. On the far side the track bends right, then sharp left and continues past palings and conifers to meet another major track.

Turning left here would take you quickly to the visitor centre at points 6. To continue up to the Old Pale, look for a track leading off the main rack on the other side, a few paces behind you. It is signed as the ‘Delamere Loop’ and after passing around a barrier, climbs uphill. In about 50 yards, at Post 11, keep ahead, and shortly afterwards, swing round to the right, always keeping to the main track. Eventually you reach the summit with its radio masts, seats and sculptures. Cheshire, Lancashire, Flintshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Denbighshire are under your gaze.

Beside the masts, at Post 8, turn left on a fenced track. In about 150 yards, at Post 7, fork left going downhill. The path soon enters woods to continue its descent. After a particularly steep section the path forks. Go left to wind down to a broad sandy track running along the bottom of the hill (Post 10).

5  Turn left on the track, then at the next fork, go right towards the car park. Cut across past the dragonfly sculpture and through a gate onto the tarmacked road. Turn right to reach Linmere Lodge visitor centre.

Passing the Lodge, continue up the access road, then cross the railway via the bridge and in a few yards take the first track on the right (marked with a red footprint). Keep ahead past all the ropes and slides of the ‘Go Ape!’ adventure area to descend to the shores of Blakemere Moss.

7  Turn right and keep to the wide track alongside the lake. The road runs parallel here but you need not go near it if you keep to the lesser track around the shore. Where this meets the main rack again, simply bear left (Post 24) and continue around the north shore of the lake. Keep ahead now for just over a mile, ignoring all tracks arriving from the right, until you reach the junction with picnic tables and the wooden signpost you passed in point 2. Retrace your steps by turning right here, then right again at the main track to return to the car park.

From Cheshire – A Dog Walker’s Guide, by author Judy Smith, is published by Countryside Books, available from local bookshops, Countryside Books, 3 Catherine Road, Newbury, Berkshire; (ISBN 978 1 84674 302 3).

It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map.