Macclesfield Forest lies on the western edge of the Peak District and is located about 3 miles from Macclesfield, Cheshire.
The area of the forest was occupied during the Bronze Age. A barrow was discovered near High Low Farm and earthworks were located near Toot Hill. The Normans created a large Royal Forest, owned by the Earl of Chester that stretched from the Pennies to the Staffordshire Moorlands. It was a hunting reserve and poachers in the royal forest were executed.
South of the forest stands the Greenway Cross, a standing stone carved on each side with a cross and is thought to have been a way marker or a boundary stone used by Dieulacres Abbey in Leek during the Middle Ages.
There are two reservoirs in the forest, with two more just outside. Ridgegate Reservoir was constructed in the late 19th century, with Trentabank Reservoir following in the 1920s. These were built to provide water for Macclesfield. The conifers were planted in 1930–50, around the reservoirs to protect water catchment areas from pollution.
The forest is owned by United Utilities, they are clearing a large part of the forest, replacing the conifers with broad leaf trees.
Most of the woodland has been designated a Site of Biological Importance, while part of the area including Trentabank Reservoir is a nature reserve managed by the Cheshire Wildlife Trust. The reserve contains a large heronry with around twenty-two nests.