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Hike gritstone, woods, heath and scarps — Staffordshire Way

Martyn Wright (CC BY 2.0)

Hike gritstone, woods, heath and scarps — Staffordshire Way

Hiking Collection by Alex Foxfield

7-14

days

3-6 h

/ day

103 mi

5,100 ft

5,900 ft

Spanning 92 miles (148 km), the Staffordshire Way is a superb long-distance trail, full of majestic scenery and rich in historical interest. From the gritstone grandeur of Mow Cop, it weaves through this beautiful county’s varied countryside, ending on the sandstone escarpment of Kinver Edge.

Starting on the outskirts of the Peak District National Park amongst rugged hills, the Way ventures south through the former industrial, wooded valleys of ‘Staffordshire’s Rhineland’. You then wind through the county’s heart, exploring the much-loved mixed woodland and heath of Cannock Chase. The Way ends by taking you through west Staffordshire’s grand parklands, finishing at Kinver, ‘the Switzerland of the Midlands’.

Highlights along the Way include: Mow Cop Castle, a spectacular folly overlooking the Staffordshire Moorlands and the Cheshire Plain; Rudyard Lake, a gorgeous beauty spot; Consall Nature Park, sprawling woodland with a proud industrial heritage; Hawksmoor Wood, a delightful forest above the Churnet Valley; Shugborough Estate, a superb country park; Cannock Chase, a rugged, mixed heath and woodland landscape; Brewood, an unspoilt market town; and Kinver Edge, a magnificent, heath-covered escarpment that’s home to some beguiling cave dwellings.

The region’s long history is evident in every ancient castle, watermill, towpath and hillfort, while the varied landscape is home to a wealth of diverse wildlife. From the wooded Churnet Valley, where thousands of tons of iron were once mined, to the reservoirs of Rudyard Lake and Blithfield, industry and nature combine time and time again, providing many spellbinding moments.

I have split the Way into seven stages of between 11 and 20 miles (18 and 32 km). Each stage ends in a town or village where you can find accommodation and an evening meal. There are a wealth of amenities en route, with quite a number of accommodation options should you wish to alter my itinerary. The whole hike could easily be done in reverse or you can use public transport to walk the stages in isolation.

The route is waymarked throughout with arrows bearing the Staffordshire Knot symbol, while the mixture of footpaths, bridleways, green lanes, towpaths and minor roads are suitable for all levels of walking experience.

There’s rambling along rugged escarpments, rough woodland and wild-feeling heath, so you will need a sturdy pair of boots. Parts of the Way can be especially boggy after periods of rainfall. Waterproofs are essential, as is sun cream in the warmer months. It’s worth having plenty of snacks and water in your pack, as there are many great picnic opportunities.

The best time of year to tackle the Way depends on your personal preference. If you revel in crisp turf under your boots and mist hanging in the wooded valleys, then winter might be the best option. Spring sees the woodlands come to life in a dazzling display of colour, summer gives you the warmest weather and longest daylight hours, while in autumn the heaths turn purple and the forests smoulder to red and gold.

Its central location makes the Staffordshire Way accessible from many parts of England. For motorists, the start point of Mow Cop is a short drive from the M6. The easiest way to arrive by public transport is by taking a train to Kidsgrove and walking the 2.5 miles (4 km) from there. There are direct trains to Kidsgrove from Birmingham New Street, Manchester Piccadilly, Stoke-on-Trent and Crewe.

The end point of Kinver Edge is 5 miles (8 km) west of Stourbridge, which has the nearest train station. The 242 bus between Stourbridge and Potters Cross takes 25 minutes and drops you within walking distance of the trail. For motorists, the M5 is the closest motorway.

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Staffordshire Way

96.3 mi

5,075 ft

5,650 ft

Last updated: November 23, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Mow Cop to Rudyard — Staffordshire Way

    Difficult
    05:40
    12.9 mi
    2.3 mph
    850 ft
    1,350 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The first stage begins in gritstone country, at the magnificent folly of Mow Cop Castle on the border with Cheshire. You join forces with the Gritstone Trail and follow the arrow-straight ridgeline of Congleton Edge, before ascending to the Cloud’s magnificent summit for an extensive panorama. From here

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    04:59
    11.6 mi
    2.3 mph
    675 ft
    550 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The second stage is characterised by the River Churnet, the Caldon Canal, their beautiful surroundings and their industrial history. You skirt the town of Leek, briefly climbing to gain wonderful views to the Peak District. After this, the Way joins the Caldon Canal’s towpath past the village of Cheddleton

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    06:23
    14.8 mi
    2.3 mph
    825 ft
    1,225 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The first half of this stage is an undulating journey across fields and through the wonderful Hawksmoor Wood to the historic village of Alton, probably most famous for the nearby theme park. After Alton, the Way joins the gorgeous River Dove’s journey south to the market town of Uttoxeter.

    From Kingsley

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    04:48
    11.3 mi
    2.3 mph
    600 ft
    550 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This stage is a pleasant journey across farmland and the gently rolling hills of Staffordshire’s eastern valleys. You visit the picturesque village of Abbots Bromley, where there is a wealth of pubs to choose from for lunch, before rambling on to the pretty Blithfield Reservoir. The stage finishes in

    by Alex Foxfield

    View
  • Difficult
    06:06
    14.5 mi
    2.4 mph
    575 ft
    600 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    This stage explores part of the wonderful Cannock Chase AONB and is bookended by two canal towpath walks. You begin by picking up the Trent and Mersey Canal, following it to the grand Shugborough Estate, before rambling across the Chase. Finish by descending into the Penk Valley and following the Staffordshire

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    07:30
    18.0 mi
    2.4 mph
    675 ft
    425 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The penultimate stage explores Staffordshire’s historic parklands and the delightful towns and villages that dot the countryside to the north and west of Wolverhampton. Lapley and Brewood are particularly charming, with some delightful old buildings. You skirt the grounds of the grand Chillington Hall

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    08:34
    20.1 mi
    2.3 mph
    925 ft
    1,250 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The final stage takes you south into the land once occupied by the Royal Forest of Kinver. Much of the woodland still remains, like a patchy, old cloak on the rolling hills and valleys of this picturesque region. You take in the views from Abbots Castle Hill, explore Highgate Common’s wonderful heathland

    by Alex Foxfield

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    103 mi
  • Duration
    44:02 h
  • Elevation
    5,100 ft5,900 ft

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Hike gritstone, woods, heath and scarps — Staffordshire Way

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