Cotton Farm

Cotton Farm is in such a quiet pocket of countryside that you'll find it hard to believe you're only a few miles from the liveliness of Chester. Cotton Farm is a lovely farm, with styling characteristic of the Grosvenor Estates.

The farmhouse started life as a dairy, producing Cheshire cheeses in what is now the guests' accommodation. It was extended in the late 19th century, almost doubling in size, and creating the north end of the farmhouse as it is today. The architect was John Douglas, who was responsible for many of the famous buildings in and around Chester (including the much-photographed Eastgate Clock).

A Wildlife Farm

The farm is in the valley of the River Gowy, and has a wealth of wildlife, which we've done a great deal to encourage. We are in the Countryside Stewardship scheme, and have planted many new hedges and established a riverside wildflower meadow.

Hockenhull Platts Nature Reserve is next door to the farm, which is managed by the Cheshire Wildlife Trust. Access to the Reserve is restricted, but you can see it perfectly well from the footpaths.

Ancient bridges

The Gowy is a quiet, ambling river, that meanders through the river pastures and meadows. In times gone by, it was a tidal inlet off the Mersey Estuary, creating a marshy area that was difficult to cross. The Romans, not surprisingly, chose a straight-line route further to the north, but in the Middle Ages the main road from Chester to London crossed the Gowy very near Cotton Farm.

A causeway raised the road above the soft ground, creating a road that could be used in all seasons, and three low packhorse bridges were built to allow the strings of laden animals to cross the strands of the river. These bridges have survived to the present day, and form part of the circular walk.

Incidentally, the 'platts' part of Hockenhull Platts seems to be a reference to the Old English word 'plaett', meaning 'plank bridge' - in which case the packhorse bridges represented a significant upgrade!