This post on White Nancy is part of our ‘Hiking with Kids’ series. Click here to see all posts in this series.
Distance: 1.5 miles
Difficulty: 3/5 (steep climb or lots of steps)
Interest: 3/5 (beacon, views, steps)
White Nancy is a bit of a local landmark in Cheshire. It’s a white beacon at the top of a hill, with views for miles around on a clear day. We’ve lived in the area for over a decade, yet we’ve never visited White Nancy. So, when we decided to embark on our family hiking adventure, we thought it would be the perfect first walk. Little did we know our trusty Kiddiwalks in Cheshire book describes it as being “only for experienced Kiddiwalkers who like a challenge”!
Before leaving, we showed the kids photos of White Nancy to pique their interest. We talked about why it was there and how big we thought it would be. We were all excited to get outdoors, be active together, and explore an area that is local yet unfamiliar to us.
We had an inauspicious start, heading in completely the wrong direction – whoops! Wandering through a field, then continuing along a trail behind people’s houses, we started to suspect we were not making progress towards White Nancy. Nevertheless, we had fun looking for orienteering signs and symbols and chatting about what they might mean.
Heading back towards the car, we picked up a sign for White Nancy – aha! On the right track at last. Unfortunately, our daughter decided she had had enough of walking at this point. Out came our trusty Beco Toddler Carrier and she hitched a ride on Guy’s back. From here, the route was well-signposted and mostly closed to roads, although we were warned to look out for horses!
We let the children choose which paths to take, which they loved. Being in charge of their parents, what a treat! It was a steep climb even up to the base of the hill, where stone ‘steps’ are set into the side. The boys raced up the climb, mostly unaided. We were very impressed with their tenacity, especially our eldest, who went up the hill like a shot. I had expected them to complain by this point, but they remained positive during the climb.
Reaching the top
At the top, the views are spectacular. The children were thrilled that we made it and ran to investigate White Nancy. After a quick picnic, we took a closer look at the beacon – what is it made of? Why is it here? We discovered the N / S / E / W markers and talked about which towns were in each direction. The kids also discovered that the beacon is perfect for playing hide and seek!
We set off to try and find an alternative route down and came across a group of trail runners. What an incredible and challenging experience it would be to run up this hill! After a while, we realised we’d gone the wrong way (again) and it started to rain. The children were fed up by this point and we were all getting rather wet, so we turned back the way we came up.
To our surprise, we did find an alternative route: wide and gentle steps down. The path winds through woodland and is covered almost the entire way by a tree tunnel. It was beautiful and secluded, a lovely end to our walk. Running ahead to the bottom, Jake and Lucas proclaimed “We made it!” And we had: the first of our family hikes was a success!
Parking? We stopped on Redway Lane in Rainow. It’s narrow but right next to the trail up the hill, unless you walk in the opposite direction first…
Terrain? The first part of the trail is paved, then the hill is rocky steps. On the way down, we took the bark-covered woodland steps.
Loos? None that we saw, so our kids made use of a tree!