Macclesfield Forest

Macclesfield Forest, located in Cheshire, England, near the town of Macclesfield, is a beautiful and tranquil woodland area that offers a range of outdoor activities and experiences for nature lovers and adventure seekers. The forest is owned by United Utilities and has four reservoirs of which two provide drinking water to nearby Macclesfield Town.
Here are some key aspects of Macclesfield Forest:

Geography and Landscape

  • Macclesfield Forest lies on the western edge of the Peak District National Park.
  • It is part of the Cheshire Plain and is primarily a coniferous forest, dominated by pine trees.
  • The forest covers a significant area and includes several reservoirs, including Trentabank and Ridgegate.

History of Macclesfield Forest

  • Historically, Macclesfield Forest was a royal hunting preserve and was used for timber production.
  • Over the centuries, it has transformed from a royal forest to a public recreational space.

Flora and Fauna

  • The forest is home to a diverse range of wildlife. The Trentabank Reservoir is known for its heronry – one of the largest in the UK.
  • Visitors might also spot other wildlife like deer, foxes, and various bird species.
  • The area supports a rich variety of plant life, including heather and bilberry.

Activities and Trails

Macclesfield Forest is a excellent place for outdoor activities including horse riding, walking, cycling, fishing and bird watching including the Peak District’s largest heronry at Trentabank Reservoir.

  • Hiking: There are numerous trails ranging from easy walks to more challenging hikes.
  • Cycling: The forest offers several mountain biking trails.
  • Bird Watching: The heronry at Trentabank is a major attraction for bird enthusiasts.
  • Picnicking: There are designated areas for picnics amidst the serene natural backdrop.
  • Fly fishing is available at Ridgegate Reservoir where the Macclesfield and District Fly Fishing Club have fishing rights and there are limited number of day tickets available. Trentabank Reservoir has no fishing as it is a nature conservation area.

Conservation and Management

  • The forest is managed to balance recreational use with wildlife conservation and timber production.
  • Efforts are made to maintain the health of the forest and its ecosystems.

Visitor Facilities

  • The forest has basic amenities like parking and picnic areas.
  • There are no overnight camping facilities within the forest, but nearby accommodations are available.
  • Toilets including disabled access can be found at the Visitor Centre near Trentabank Reservoir and car park.


  • Macclesfield Forest is easily accessible by road.
  • It is close to the town of Macclesfield, making it a convenient day trip for both locals and visitors from surrounding areas.

Macclesfield Forest provides a peaceful escape from urban life, offering a chance to connect with nature through its scenic trails, diverse wildlife, and tranquil environment. Whether for a leisurely walk, a challenging hike, or simply to enjoy the peace of the natural world, it is a cherished destination for many.


Access to the forest by road is easiest from Macclesfield through the village of Langley to the west of the forest, there are other minor roads from Wildboarclough but these are single track routes and are quickly blocked in winter conditions.

The roads through the forest are designated as quiet lanes in an effort to improve the way walkers, cyclists and horse riders share the roads with motorists.

There is a pay and display car park at the Visitor Centre near Trentabank Reservoir and another small car park at Standing Stone. There are also other minor car parking areas in lay-bys in the forest.  You can reach Macclesfield Forest by bus (Langley Village), car, cycling or via longer walks linking Macclesfield and Buxton for example through the Goyt Valley, Teggs Nose, Wildboarclough and the nearby Gritstone Trail. The map reference for the Visitor Centre is: Map ref: SJ 961711.