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Discover rural bliss in England’s Midland heart; walks in Staffordshire place you amongst truly stunning landscapes. Staffordshire boasts some of the Peak District’s quintessential hiking experiences, from dramatic limestone grandeur to awesome gritstone ridges. From hardcore hikes, to gentle valley trails, you really are spoilt for choice.
But there’s more to hikes in Staffordshire than the Peaks. The National Forest, one of England’s newest woodland environments, is surely one of the most ambitious green projects in the UK. There are hundreds of miles of paths and trails that enable you to experience this rewilded paradise.
The scenic towns and idyllic villages liberally scattered across the county offer great bases from which to explore. Staffordshire’s low and undulating centre gives way to the high woodland and heathland of Cannock Chase in the south, which rewards you with yet more gorgeous trails through contrasting surroundings.
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Some of the best hiking trails in Staffordshire explore the limestone valleys sumptuously carved by the Rivers Dove and Manifold in the north of the county. Dovedale’s dramatic three mile (five km) long gorge is one of the most loved beauty spots in England. Awe-inspiring limestone formations abound, such as the slender spire of Ilam Rock and the majestic arch of Reynard’s Cave. The river is famously clear enough for you to spot trout and grayling swimming in its depths.
A ramble on the trails along the meandering Manifold will leave you grinning from ear to ear. The surroundings are continuously beautiful, containing the archetypal limestone grandeur of the White Peak. No ramble here would be complete without an adventure in Thor’s Cave, a remarkable karst cavern that tunnels straight through a steep crag. Its arch forms a perfect frame for the rolling countryside beyond, a photographer’s dream. Take care in its interior, as there are big unguarded drops and the surface can often be slippery.
Still within the Peak District are yet more glorious landscapes for hikes in Staffordshire. The magnificent gritstone ridgeline of The Roaches is a playground for hikers and climbers alike. These rugged crags are a wonderful experience and the escarpment rewards you with a vast panorama. In nearby woodland is the concealed narrow chasm of Lud’s Church, a mysterious, otherworldly place. Its steep, alien-green, moss-covered walls and overhanging canopy is the inspiration for many a myth and legend.
Other superb options for walks in Staffordshire are Cannock Chase in the south and the National Forest in the east. The Chase is England’s smallest designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, covering just 26 square miles (68 km2). But contained within this small area is a superb blend of ancient woodland, coniferous plantations, wide open heathland and wetlands, all chock full of flora and fauna.
Meanwhile, the wonderfully varied National Forest boasts trails through vibrant young woodlands. Beautiful strolls alongside a wide variety of tree species beckon, with magical displays of bluebells, wild garlic and purple orchids come spring.
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