Cheshire

When it comes to the animal world Cheshire is possibly most famous for Chester Zoo. This is where you will find wolves, elephants, monkeys and Britain's best free-flying bat cave, where it’s an attraction in itself just to watch people running and screaming through it. The Blue Planet Aquarium is also nearby with sharks, octopuses, seahorses and any other fish you can think of - big or small.

Neighbouring the Blue Planet Aquarium is the Cheshire Oaks Outlet Centre - the county's answer to the Trafford Centre or Bluewater. The difference here is that the shopping centre is actually open air and you’ll find some amazing discounts on brands such as Nike, Body Shop, Carphone Warehouse and more. Just make sure you line your pockets with your savings, as the temptation to snap up bargains will be hard to resist. There are shopping areas in the smaller towns such as Nantwich and Northwich, but Chester is the place to go for quirky little boutiques and vintage shops. It’s in this ancient city where you’ll find the Grosvenor Centre with many posh, independent shops as well as chainstores such as Topshop and Debenhams.

As for the scenery, visit the breathtaking Delamere Forest with its hearty woodland trails and beautiful lake – all washed down with a pint in a country pub (it would be rude not to). The River Dee is also a popular spot for fishing, rowing or even renting a vividly-coloured pedalo if you're feeling garish enough. On some parts of the river you’ll discover Victorian ice-cream parlours, gorgeous little bistros and a grand bandstand complete with a brass band in the summer. Not only does Cheshire have a grand river, the Shropshire Union Canal also runs through the entire county. This is an ideal opportunity for canal boat enthusiasts - the Cheshire Cat pub in Christleton is well-known as an essential rest-stop!

Cheshire isn't all history and quaintness - celebrities have been known to grace the county with their presence - whether we like it or not. The Roodee Raceourse in Chester is where you’ll find the royal family or various footballers and TV actors watching Wayne Rooney's horse come last (true story). The Duke of Westminster owns anything with the name ‘Grosvenor’ and can be seen occasionally entering the Grosvenor Hotel & Spa in Chester. Hollyoaks, although filmed in Liverpool, is based in Chester and the surrounding areas. Sometimes the crew and cast will film in various locations in the county - perfect for celeb-spotting. Meanwhile, Alderley Edge near Macclesfield is a stomping ground for many premier league footballers - just going there to see the massive mansions is a day trip in itself. Cheshire has also played host to the Antiques Roadshow a few times due to its rich history. Many soap opera actors can be found in the most unlikely of places. In Morrisons you may see Sunita buying a cheese and onion slice or Max from Brookside looking at discount chicken in Tesco. Even the small village of Tarporley was transformed into a swanky New York street for McDonald's new TV advert.

Cheshire Cat, the local brew, is a splendid mix of lemony amber goodness and it's usually one of the lowest priced beers in the county. It’s safe to say that Cheshire is one of the capital real ale counties, and the pubs here can range from ye olde English charm to trendy and sleek bars. The Pulford Hotel in Pulford is one of the most charming pubs in the county, popular with weddings and other special occasions. Many of the pubs embrace real ale culture, namely the Treacle Tap in Macclesfield and the Glasfryn on the border of Wales, The Young Pretender in Congleton and the Old Harkers Arms in Chester. Each offer an outstandingly eclectic choice of local hoppy beverages, European brews and even USA draught beers.

Cheshire's history is an interesting mix of Roman, Medieval, Georgian and Victorian architecture. When Cheshire springs to mind most of you will think of the black and white wattle and daub buildings that are still in very good nick today. Chester, known as Caer in the Roman times, was an essential port two thousand years ago. The famous Walls that circle the city are still intact, as is the amphitheatre just outside the city centre. There are a collection of brilliant ghost stories concerning Cheshire, ranging from a misogynist Roman soldier, spooked handymen, eloping lovers, Civil War horsemen and even witches. There are many ghost tours that run throughout the county and all of them provide a fascinating and in-depth look into the county's colourful history.

In short, Cheshire boasts a wonderful tapestry of history, culture, celebrity and entertainment. Two hours from London by train, 40 minutes from Liverpool and 45 minutes from Manchester, Cheshire is certainly one of the most well-connected counties in the UK. So, what are you waiting for? Your Cestrian adventure begins here.

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