Countess of Chester Country Park

Region: North West

Countess of Chester Country Park brings the countryside closer to the city, providing visitors with the opportunity to enjoy natural and peaceful surroundings as they wander around the park’s pathways.

What you can see

Down at the wetland you may spot a Kingfisher spectacularly dart into the water or a grey Heron patiently waiting at the water’s edge. Kestrels hover majestically over the grasslands, which in summer attract colourful butterflies such as the Common Blue, Peacock and Red Admiral. Whilst in the woodland you may see a Greater Spotted Woodpecker or a Sparrowhawk. The park has a variety of wetland and meadowland habitats as well as woodland areas that are being enhanced by new planting. A new Nature Reserve is due to open in September 2020 which is part of Chester Zoo’s Wildlife Connections project. Various sites within the park have wildflower meadows created with the help of local schools and other visitors and volunteers. Regular wildlife surveys take place within the park and the number of birds, butterflies etc has increased significantly since it opened. The current wetland is home to many animals and plants, in particular, toads which are now an endangered species.

The Present and the Future

The Land Trust has five charitable objectives which drives the work we do at Countess of Chester Country Park. This work is led by our managing partners TCV, who work in partnership with the dedicated Friends Of group.

Since the Countess opened in 2014 there have been some fantastic projects on the site which have made a really positive difference to so many people’s lives within, and around, the local community.

Fallen for the Fallen

Fallen for the Fallen is one of the fascinating things to see at Countess of Chester Country Park. The project was devised and completed in 2018 to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War. The brainchild of the Friends group, Fallen for the Fallen is a three kilometre trail of carved poppies which marks the soldiers who lived in the local area who lost their lives in World War One. The trail starts at the Upton War Memorial and finishes at a beautiful carved bench within the Country Park. There are a number of interpretation boards around the site explaining more about the trail, and an accompanying trail leaflet.

Parkrun

Before the Covid-19 pandemic the Countess was home to a very popular weekly parkrun with hundreds of runners turning up every Saturday morning to try and beat their time, since the event first launched in July 2016.

The event is entirely organised by volunteers – around 16 people help out each week – so you can still get involved even if running isn’t your thing.

Visit the Chester parkrun page for more information. All participants should register online (which is free) and bring a printed copy of their unique identification barcode each time they attend.

We can’t wait to welcome runners back to the site once Covid-19 restrictions ease.

Picnic in the Park, Tree Planting and the Friendly Bench

Over the last few years the site has become incredibly popular, welcoming over 30,000 visitors to the Countess every year. This popularity grew during the Covid-19 pandemic with people using the green spaces for their daily exercise.

Our managing partners and volunteer workforce organise a wide range of events to engage the local community. This includes the annual Picnic in the Park which includes a wide variety of interesting stalls and activities to suit all ages and sees hundreds of people, including families, turn out and is a great day for all involved.

The Countess also runs regular tree planting days, with the 2019 event seeing over 500 trees planted in a single day.

The Park is also doing its bit to tackle loneliness and social isolation, following the installation of a Friendly Bench in 2020. The bench was one of the first five to be installed in the country and aims to fight loneliness and social isolation by bringing communities together.

Life for a Life Memorial Forest

The Chester Memorial Forest was opened in July 2015 by the late Duke of Westminster. The aim of the memorial woodland is to help enhance the biodiversity of the park so that eventually it will become a popular woodland walk surrounded by pastoral meadows.

The Life for a Life scheme allows people to plant trees, such as English oak, Silver birch, Mountain ash and Wild cherry, in memory of loved ones, helping to create a beautiful forest that everyone can enjoy.

Find out more at Life for a Life Chester Memorial Forest.

Health for Life

The green spaces at Countess of Chester Country Park have a very positive impact on the health and wellbeing of our site users, both physically and mentally. Working with various partners, the Land Trust ran our Health for Life project at Countess of Chester to try and better understand the benefits that spending time in well managed green space can bring.

The £70,000 programme, which was funded by the Cheshire Wirral Partnership NHS Trust, The Big Lottery, The Mersey Forest and Cheshire West and Chester Council, saw nearly 700 different events and sessions organised at the park for the public and NHS staff from the nearby hospital.

These activities ranged from Nordic Walking and hedge-laying to buggy walks and a popular weekly park run, which attracts more than 300 runners every Saturday morning.

Working with the Natural Health Service Centre of Excellence, which includes both the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University, the activities were academically evaluated. This measured their health and wellbeing at the start and end of an 8 -12 week programme.

In virtually all cases, people reported spending more time outdoors and feeling healthier and happier as a result. There was a dramatic reduction in the time participants spent sitting each day, with a corresponding leap in vigorous physical exercise of nearly 60 per cent.

Chester Wetland Project

A wide variety of wildlife and biodiversity live at the Countess of Chester and the site is managed in such a way as to encourage further species to make the site their home.

The next stage of this work is the Chester Wetland Centre project. Approximately eight acres in size, the wetland will provide a habitat that is becoming increasingly rare in the UK. Once complete, the site will increase biodiversity, clean a polluted river and help store storm water, thus helping prevent flooding which often occurs downstream. It also has the potential to act as a carbon sink, preventing the release of harmful greenhouse gases. It will be used as an educational and research resource for the local community and will act as a focal point in bringing local conservation and environmental groups together.

Friends of Countess of Chester Country Park

The Friends of the Countess of Chester Countryside Park is an active community group that helps look after nearly 100 acres of parkland adjacent to the city’s hospital. They are hugely involved in the running of the site, organising regular volunteering activities and playing a key role in many of the projects which has seen the Countess retain Green Flag status for the last four years.

If you would like to learn more about their work or wish to get involved they can be reached on email at Friends.coccp@gmail.com

You can also see more on what they are up to on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Countess of Chester Country Park Contact


The site contact for our Countess of Chester Country Park space is Neil McMahon Tel: 0151 4234433 / 07740 899716

This space is managed in partnership with The Conservation Volunteers (TCV)

Visitor Information

Opening Hours

Park open from 7.30am - 6.00pm

Car Parking

The car park is open at all times. From Monday to Friday it costs £1 for two hours. Parking is free at weekends. * Please note - park users are permitted to use the Hospital staff car park at the weekends when the Country Park car park is often full. The car park is managed by the NHS. Alternative car parking can be found at the Mollington Banastre Hotel on Parkgate Road. If using this please park in the overflow car park which is on the left of the entrance road. You can then take a short walk along Parkgate Road and enter the park via the Parkgate Road entrance

Toilets

There are some in the hospital five minutes walk away
(click here to find the nearest public toilets)

Café

Public access café within the hospital approximately five minutes walk away

Entrance cost

Free

Accessibility

The park’s all-weather paths are wide enough to be shared by walkers, cyclists, wheelchair users and children’s buggies. The paths offer a choice of routes and distances and the opportunity to be more active, within a safe and pleasant environment. The paths also connect with other routes, which allow you to explore the local area

Footpaths

Yes

Dogs

Well controlled dogs

Things to do

5 totem poles in the park to find, dipping platform and boardwalk, measured distance route, Fallen for the Fallen poppy route.

Other nearby attractions

The Greenway (cycle and footpath) are approximately 10 minutes away, providing a green link to other areas. It is also adjacent to the canal and links to lots of local footpaths.

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Location

Valley Drive, Chester, Cheshire, CH2 1UL

Site size: 19 hectares

Events

There are currently no events relating to this space.

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Awards

This site has received the following awards:

  • Countess of Chester Country Park awarded Green Flag status

  • Countess of Chester Country Park has been recognised with a prestigious Green Flag award.

    The site in Upton in Chester joins Silverdale Country Park in Newcastle under Lyme, Elba Park in Sunderland, Beam Parklands in Dagenham and Greenwich Ecology Park in London on the list of Land Trust sites recognised by Green Flag.

  • Countess of Chester Country Park shortlisted at the Charity Times Awards

  • Countess of Chester Country Park was shortlisted in the Cross-sector Partnership of the Year category at the Charity Times Awards.

  • Countess of Chester Country Park wins at Horticulture Week Custodian Awards

  • Countess of Chester Country Park won the Best Community Health Initiative category at the Horticulture Week Custodian Awards.

  • The Land Trust shortlisted for Healthcare Transformation Awards

  • Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with the Land Trust have been shortlisted in the category of Improving Patient and Community Engagement at the Healthcare Transformation Awards.

  • Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management Award – July 2015

  • The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) is the leading professional membership body representing and supporting ecologists and environmental managers. Its award scheme is all about recognising positive environmental and conservation impacts across the country.

    The Countess of Chester County Park was honoured with a Highly Commended NGO (Non-governmental organisation) Impact prize at the recent Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).

    Since being opened to the public by the Duchess of Cornwall last September, the Upton-based site, next to the Countess of Chester Hospital, has already proved popular with residents, visitors, staff members and users of the hospitals.

  • Chester Civic Trust New Years Honours – January 2015

  • The Countess of Chester Country Park was honoured with a Chester Civic Trust award for benefiting the built environment.

    The Chester Civic Trust selected the public park as a benefactor of the Civic Trust’s awards scheme recognising changes to the built environment during the past 12 months.

History

Much of the new park is located on a former landfill site that was next to the Countess of Chester Hospital. This closed in the 1970s when it was made safe, capped with soil and grassed over. Thirty years later the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) took ownership of the site, allocated some of the land for housing development and gave 19-hectares to the Land Trust to develop a country park.

The Countess of Chester Country Park was officially opened by the Duchess of Cornwall in September 2014.

Development

The Homes and Communities Agency provided the Land Trust with funding which will effectively secure the long term future of the park. This funding will ensure this park can be managed for community benefit which will have a direct effect on the lives of thousands of local people, creating positive outcomes for health, social, cohesion, education, environment and the local economy. The Trust will work with other adjoining landowners including the NHS Trusts, to secure the future of the open space as a community health and well-being park.

To create the park, a series of pathways and trails for walkers and cyclists were constructed, connecting to local footpaths and the canal towpath.   Hedge laying and localised tree planting have helped to enhance and conserve the site’s ecological interest, open views and existing features.

Work has been undertaken by the Environment Agency to create a reed bed, while drainage improvements have been carried out at Finchetts Gutter. The park has also been registered as a NHS Forest site and a Jubilee Wood, as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Land Trust Contact

To contact the Land Trust about this site or how we could help manage your space please email our Estates Manager Sarah Palgrave-Neath or call 07795 126687.

To enquire about holding an event on a Land Trust site, please click here.

Downloads

Download Chester Wetland Centre Download Countess of Chester Country Park Orienteering Course Download Cultural Trails Leaflet - Countess of Chester Country Park Download Poppy Trail leaflet - Countess of Chester Country Park Download Walking and Running Trails Leaflet - Countess of Chester Country Park

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