6 OF THE BEST HIKES IN STAFFORDSHIRE & THE PEAKS
Staffordshire offers the very best of the English countryside. Patchwork fields ripple across the hills, dotted with picturesque villages and country houses with deer parks and centurion English oaks.
Britain’s oldest national park, the Peak District, is a breath of fresh air. Whitepeak is a soft kind of wilderness, of hay meadows and crumbling drystone walls. Darkpeak is the edgier twin: brooding peat bogs, exposed moorland and gritstone ridges that cleave the land and sky.
Walking here is a soul-stirring encounter with the outdoors, with its energy and its agency. Gritstone ridges track up hills into the clouds, the wind ripples the ferns and heather of the heaths, the grass crackles and hums under the sun, the air reverberates with the quiet drama of water on rock. It’s somewhere to feel unfettered, animal and alive.
Meanwhile, Staffordshire is also home to one of the UK’s most ambitious rewilding projects. The National Forest encompasses 200 square miles of native trees, gradually joining the ancient forests of Needwood and Charnwood to form a mighty green lung full of walking trails.
The county is extremely friendly to walkers and perfectly dog-friendly too. With miles of footpaths and open access land, there are plenty of gentle strolls and brisk mountain hikes to be had.
SEVEN SPRINGS AND CANNOCK CHASE
This walk explores Cannock Chase, a glorious AONB of mixed woodland and managed heath.
Stroll from the pools at Seven Springs along a section of the long distance Staffordshire Way. The route meanders along the Trent and Mersey canal past colourful narrow boats and into the villages of Little and Great Haywood – where JR Tolkein once lived. From here the path enters the lush and extensive grounds of Shugborough Park.
Take a glimpse up at the stately hall then re-emerge in the wilds of Cannock Chase. The walk ends with a slow climb through the changing trees to Coppice Hill, where you drop down into the the beautiful Sherbrook Valley.
DOVEDALE LOOP FROM ILAM
Ilam is a chocolate box village, Dovedale one of the prettiest spots in the Peaks.
It is a valley of tightly rounded hills where the River Dove flows between Staffordshire and Derbyshire. In the palm of the valley the sun pools and the water gurgles, crossed by smooth stepping stones.
The stones are easy to cross, and dogs will particularly enjoy boundering across, and playing in the shallows.
Scramble up to Reynaud’s Cave to gaze out from its cool mouth down into a valley of varying shades of green, before leaving the forests for the dales.
THE MANIFOLD VALLEY FROM WETTON (7.49 MILES)
This delightful walk showcases some of the finest features of the Peaks.
The Manifold valley unfolds a succession of magnificent views, with dramatic rock formations at almost every turn (here's looking at you, Thor’s Cave).
KINVER EDGE, THE STAFFORDSHIRE WAY (6 MILE CIRCULAR)
The Staffordshire Way spans the county, offering up an impressive 92 miles worth of walking. Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses is one section particularly worthy of exploration.
Kinver Edge is a dramatic heathland of gorse and heather dominated by its rust red sandstone. This forms the bedrock of the famous Rock Houses, cave homes which were occupied right up until the 1960s. They are now managed by the National Trust, so you can sit by a fireside deep in the cliffs, and learn about the unique lives of the people who lived here.
WALK THE ROACHES (5.8 MILES)
The Roaches is one of the most famous routes in the Peak District. The ridgeline traverses the limestone plateau, dropping away to give heady views over the surrounding countryside.
In the early autumn, the heather displays are particularly impressive. The hills are gauzed in a purple down which picks up by the low light and is sometimes wreathed in mist.
For decades this area was home to a mob of wild wallabies, who had been released on the moorland during the second world war. Over time their population dwindled but they continued to colonise the character of the roaches. The last female was photographed in 2009, but they live on in local folklore.
THE SILVER CIRCUIT, THE NATIONAL FOREST (8 MILE CIRCULAR)
If you do down to the woods today, you’ll find an exciting regeneration. Ancient oak forests are merging with new native plantations, the landscape slowly but surely returning to the green and wildlife-rich ecosystem it would have been centuries ago.
The Silver Circuit was created to mark the 25th anniversary of the first tree plantings in The National Forest. Walk under the trees of Needwood Forest, knarled sentries from another time, then down into rolling countryside and along the gently winding canals of the Trent Valley.
MAKE THE MOAT HOUSE YOUR BASE
Fancy lacing up your boots and heading straight out the front door? Or perhaps you have a burning desire to trek through the Peaks, or wander the misty wilds of Cannock Chase on an autumn morning.
The Moat House is set in peaceful countryside just a few minutes from the M6. By day, head out for some bucolic therapy. Return with pink cheeks and warm muscles, ready for 2 AA Rosette dining and well-deserved relaxation in our beautiful hotel.
We have always welcomed walkers to explore this varied and beautiful part of the UK, and we now welcome four-legged adventurers too.