Cheshire

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Cheshire (or, archaically, the County of Chester) is a county in North West England. The county town, and the location of the county council, is the city of Chester, although Cheshire's largest town in terms of area and population is Warrington. Other major towns include Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Widnes, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Northwich, and Wilmslow. The county is bordered by Merseyside and Greater Manchester to the north, Derbyshire to the east, Staffordshire and Shropshire to the south, Flintshire and Wrexham in Wales to the west.

The ceremonial county has an overall area of 2,344 square kilometres (905 sq mi) and has a population of about 993,200.

The county is mostly rural with a number of small towns and villages that support an agricultural industry. It is historically famous for the production of Cheshire cheese, salt, bulk chemicals and the weaving of silk.

Cheshire covers a boulder clay plain separating the hills of North Wales and the Peak District of Derbyshire. This was formed following the retreat of ice age glaciers which left the area dotted with kettle holes, locally referred to as meres. The bedrock of this region is almost entirely Triassic sandstone, outcrops of which have long been quarried, notably at Runcorn, providing the distinctive red stone for Liverpool Cathedral and Chester Cathedral.

The eastern half of the county is Upper Triassic Mercia mudstone laid down with large salt deposits which were mined for hundreds of years around Northwich. Separating this area from Lower Triassic Sherwood sandstone to the west is a prominent Sandstone Ridge. A 32-mile (51 km) footpath, the Sandstone Trail, follows this ridge from Frodsham to Whitchurch passing Delamere Forest, Beeston Castle and earlier Iron Age forts.

Prehistoric burial grounds can be found at The Bridestones, near Congleton (Neolithic) and Robin Hood's Tump, near Alpraham (Bronze Age). The remains of Iron Age hill forts are found on sandstone ridges at several locations in Cheshire. Examples include Maiden Castle on Bickerton Hill, Helsby Hillfort and Woodhouse Hillfort at Frodsham. The Roman fortress and walls of Chester, perhaps the earliest building works in Cheshire remaining above ground, are constructed from purple-grey sandstone.

The Cheshire canal system includes several canals originally used to transport the county's industrial products (mostly chemicals). Nowadays they are mainly used for tourist traffic. The Cheshire Ring is formed from The Rochdale, Ashton, Peak Forest, Macclesfield, Trent and Mersey and Bridgewater canals. The Manchester Ship Canal is a wide, 36-mile (58 km) stretch of water opened in 1894. It consists of the rivers Irwell and Mersey made navigable to Manchester for sea-going ships leaving the Mersey Estuary. The canal passes through the north of the county via Runcorn and Warrington.

Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/

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