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Walks around Cannock Chase contain a remarkably varied menu of beautiful landscapes for you to sample. This is the smallest designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in England, covering just 26 square miles (68 km2). But what it lacks in size it makes up for with gorgeous trails through contrasting surroundings.
Lose yourself in this delectable slice of unspoilt wilderness. The mixture of ancient woodland, coniferous plantations, wetlands, river valleys and wide-open heathland is the perfect remedy to the hustle and bustle of major urban centres. Within touching distance of the likes of Birmingham and Wolverhampton, an escape to the seclusion found on Cannock Chase is easier than you might think.
Big open skies and inspiring views are in ample supply during your hikes around Cannock Chase, whilst the beating heart of the region is a 1000-year-old royal hunting forest, bursting with wildlife in the warmer months.
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There are 98 miles (157 km) of public rights of way for you and your hiking boots to explore on your walks around Cannock Chase. The Chase was a favourite of the author JRR Tolkein, who spent much of his formative years exploring this very ground. In the south of the AONB, a hike up the Iron Age hill fort of Castle Ring is an excellent adventure. You’ll earn a splendid panorama of the Trent Valley, Staffordshire’s verdant countryside and the rest of the Chase stretching north.
There are so many beauty spots for some quiet contemplation. Experience the serenity of the woodland trails under veteran oak trees and alongside babbling brooks. Dogs are more than welcome and there’s even an activity trail designed specifically for them. In the north of the Chase sits the Shugborough Estate, with its impressive historic house and 900 acres (364 ha) of grounds. You can wander amongst the many impressive follies, some dating back to the 17th century.
The best hiking trails around Cannock Chase have one thing in common, an abundance of wildlife. Emblematic of the region, fallow deer roam in their hundreds. An encounter with these shy creatures is always exciting. The ornithologist in you will revel in the sighting of a rare nightjar in the woodlands. You’ll need to keep your eyes peeled though, as these beautiful nocturnal birds often camouflage amongst the trees.
Feel the invigoration of crisp air on cosy winter strolls, with a roaring fire in a country pub waiting for you at the end of the trail. Spring sees wildflowers burst into life in the superb woodland. The Cannock Chase berry, a rare hybrid between bilberry and cowberry, is worth keeping a close eye out for.In summer, a sea of purple heather washes over the heathland and four of England’s six lizard species can be seen sunning themselves on rocky outcrops. In autumn, experience the gorgeous colours of the hunting forest and revel in the evocative sound of dry leaves crunching underfoot. Hikes around Cannock Chase are delightful regardless of the season.