In 1182 the land north of the Mersey became administered as part of the new county of Lancashire instead. Later, the hundreds of Atiscross and Exestan became part of Wales. Over the years the ten hundreds consolidated to just seven — Broxton , Bucklow , Eddisbury , Macclesfield , Nantwich , Northwich , and Wirral.
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 Triassicsandstone, 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 for hundreds of years around Northwich. Separating this area from Lower Triassic Sherwood sandstone to the west is a prominent Sandstone Ridge. A 51km footpath follows this ridge from Frodsham to Whitchurch passing Delamere Forest , Beeston Castle and earlier iron age forts.
Cheshire is a mainly rural county with a high concentration of villages. Most of the industry is in the North adjacent to the Mersey, notably the center of the British Chemical Industry including ICI at Runcorn (originally sited here because of the proximity of salt mines). Crewe was once the center of the British railway industry and remains a major junction. Towns in the east of Cheshire form Manchester's most affluent commuter belt with some of the UK's highest property prices outside the Home Counties. Cheshire is rich in canals, particularly the east of the county with its strategic importance between Manchester, Stoke and Birmingham. The Rochdale, Ashton, Peak Forest, Macclesfield, Trent and Mersey and Bridgewater canals have been restored for tourism, forming the "Cheshire Ring".