27TH MAY 2000


The Sandstone Trail Challenge is an event jointly organised by Cheshire County Council, Countryside Management Service, and Cheshire Fire Brigade.

The objectives of the event are:

For those entrants who are not familiar with the Sandstone Trail there follows a few notes about the event:

The Sandstone trail is approx. 33 miles in length; the trail follows the natural sandstone ridge across the County from Beacon Hill on the outskirts of Frodsham in the North to Grindley Brook near Whitchurch in the South. For the purposes of the challenge the trail is walked from South to North, and an extra distance of approx. 11/2 miles is walked, with the event ending at the Fire Station in the centre of the town of Frodsham.

The trail shows off Cheshire as a "county of contrasts" offering many different landscapes. Ranging from rich dairy pastures, for which Cheshire is best known, through rugged sandstone outcrops, castle topped hills, dark forest plantations to the vast industrial sites of Stanlow refinery and ICI Runcorn seen from Beacon Hill.

Walking conditions are varied and challenging, ground conditions can change very quickly, the challenge should not be taken lightly! The challenge is to complete the trail in a day. The day starts early with registration at the Fire Station taking place from 0600 hrs. The coaches (cost included in entrance fee) leave the station at 0640 prompt for the journey down to Grindley Brook and the start of the challenge. If entrants prefer they can make their own way to the start, but no reduction in the entry fee is made.

The challenge begins at 0730 to 0750 with entrants being started in groups to avoid congestion. Entrants may also enter as a runner, but persons doing so need to be aware of the challenge ahead and are usually harriers and/or experienced marathon runners.

The trail is way marked with the Sandstone Trail logo (footprint with a letter S). There are five checkpoints along the trail, as entrants pass through these checkpoints a card is marked, entrants must ensure this card is marked at each checkpoint. Refreshments in the shape of squash or water are provided at each checkpoint, entrants are requested to provide their own drinking vessel however.

First aid facilities are provided at each checkpoint, all marshals are trained first aiders. There are also marshals at locations between the checkpoints where the trail crosses a main road. Communications are provided by ‘Scout Radio’ all checkpoints are in radio contact with each other as well as the control centre at the Fire Station. If an entrant needs to drop out for any reason, a mini bus is mobile between checkpoints to ferry them back to the Fire Station.

Health and safety of entrants is paramount and for this reason if a marshal considers that an entrant is incapable of continuing the challenge for any reason they will request that the entrant retire. This is especially true where an entrant is seen to be too far from the finish to complete the challenge in daylight. All entrants must have completed the challenge before dusk. Entrants choosing to ignore this request continue the challenge as an individual and without the backup facilities of the event.

All entrants completing the challenge will receive a commemorative shield or medal; there are no individual prizes for fastest time, etc. All entrants completing the challenge are winners!

Refreshments (BBQ) will be available from approx. 1300 hours onwards at the fire station; there will also be a bar, both of these at extra cost. A ‘bouncy castle’ for children will also be available (free). Family and friends are invited along to support and await the arrival back at the station of entrants. Hot showers will also be available, but may involve a short wait. Overnight accommodation at the Fire Station can only be made available to serving fire-fighters (bedroll spaces only). A list of local B&B establishments can be made available on request. There is space at the Fire Station to park a caravan or even pitch a tent!

On receipt of your application form, an official entry number will be sent to you. I hope to see you on the day – good luck and happy walking!

Alan Oulton – organiser – January 2000