Known for its historic potteries, real ale breweries, unique heritage, green rolling hills, and stretches of wild and wonderful rugged wilderness (the southern edge of the Peak District National Park falls within the county of Staffordshire), the landlocked county located in the West Midlands of England is chock full of hidden gems. Here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in Staffordshire…
The Roaches, Peak District – one of the most famously stunning places to explore in Staffordshire
Overlooking Leek and Tittesworth Reservoir is where you’ll find the rocky grit escarpment known as The Roaches. Located in the Peak District National Park, they are named after the French word for rocks. The circular walk which surrounds them is about 5.5 miles in length and is a great place for hikers and climbers.
Once upon a time, there were wallabies living up here that were released from a zoo, but there is still plenty of wildlife like red grouse and buzzards to spot nowadays. On a clear day from here, you can see all the way to Mount Snowden in Wales!
Lichfield Cathedral – an impressive historic attraction in Staffordshire
The medieval Lichfield Cathedral is a famous place to visit as it has three spires and was made using sandstone. Inside it is equally as interesting and is home to medieval paintings and windows made from famous Herkenrode stained glass.
Next to the Cathedral is The Close, an area that used to be walled off and contains quaint gardens and buildings. Further up is Vicar’s Close, a snapshot from history lined with medieval houses. Lichfield Cathedral is a true journey back into old England.
Leek – a pretty historic market town filled with charming shops
The charming historic market town of Leek is only ten miles away from Stoke-on-Trent but it’s a world away from the city. Leek has so much history to tell, as it is home to the Brindley Water Mill, the St Edward the Confessor Church and the Nicholson Museum and Art Gallery.
It is most famous for its antique market that takes place every Saturday with traders selling jewellery, ceramics, books, furniture, photographs, paintings, memorabilia, toys, trains and tools. Other highlights include the other unusual shops, good food and award-winning teashops. Nearby is the lovely Tittesworth Reservoir and Rudyard Lake and steam railway if you fancy doing some walking.
Middleport Pottery – one of the famous historic Staffordshire old potteries
If you feel like you’ve seen Middleport Pottery before, then you’re right as it was the location for the BBC’s Great Pottery Throw Down. It is a Grade II listed building built on the Trent and Mersey Canal in 1888. Middleport Pottery is the last working pottery in the UK and it still produces iconic ‘Burleigh’ ware, created by using underglaze tissue printing with hand-engraved rollers.
You can see the old machinery at work on a factory tour, a tea room, shop, and art galleries. Stoke-on-Trent is known as the ‘capital of ceramics’ due to its history and there are pottery shops, museums, and workshops scattered around the city.
Weston Park – beautiful country house and gardens
Weston Park is a beautiful county house nestled in Weston-under-Lizard and set in 1,000 acres of parkland. The Weston Park Hall is a 17th-century listed building, complete with an orangery and stables. It is open to the public to showcase an incredible collection of 30,000 historical pieces inside.
In summer there is a music festival on the grounds as well as other events like Camper Jam and model airshows. During the winter it hosts an illuminated walk through the ancient woodlands as well as a Christmas Fayre with 100 stalls to browse.
Cannock Chase – one of the best places to visit Staffordshire for a family day out
Cannock Chase England’s smallest area of outstanding natural beauty but it is also one of its most accessible stunning landscapes. It’s a great place to go walking and cycling as there are trails galore. There are various attractions encompassed within the area and the Georgian mansion of Shugborough Estate owned by the National Trust is one of the most famous.
That’s not the only history to be found here as there are also memorials here like the war cemetery, German military cemetery and the Katyn Memorial. These are here because there was a large military camp during the First World War that became the base for the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. There was also a busy prisoner-of-war hospital. If you want more information on the area then visit the free Museum of Cannock Chase in the Valley Colliery that was used for training miners.
Close to Cannock Chase is the wonderful Chasewater Lake where you can go sailing, paddleboarding, wakeboarding, canoeing, and zorbing.
Westport Lake – one of the best natural beauty spots in Staffordshire
Westport Lake is the biggest expanse of water in Stoke-on-Trent with two lakes surrounded by a nature reserve. There are walking trails to explore, and a cafe where you can watch wildlife from the window.
The lakes are an important place for migratory birds like ducks and geese in the wintertime. In the springtime, many waterbirds like coots, moorhens, ducks, kingfishers and geese breed here.
Trentham Estate and Gardens – offers a beautiful afternoon out
If you like fine historic attractions then Trentham Estate is a wonderful place to visit in Staffordshire. They are formal Italianate gardens which are part of a gorgeous English landscape park.
There is plenty to discover in the grounds of the estate and including the photogenic and beautiful gardens, the River Trent, the Trentham Lake and the remains of Trentham Hall. Discover the magic of a fairy trail where silver sprites are hidden in trees and lakes. There is also an onsite garden centre, shopping village, and a treetop adventure park in Trentham.
Birches Valley – a great place for an exhilerating day out
The Birches Valley Forest Centre is home to bike trails, woodland walks, an adventure playground and a Go Ape. It’s the perfect place for a family walk and there is a trail for under 10s complete with carvings, a maze and a fairy glen to help kids discover the magic of the forest.
The valley is also a great place to discover wildlife as there is an ancient herd of fallow deer, red deer, muntjac deer, badgers, and foxes. Birdwatchers can find nightjar, hobby, woodlark, goshawk, woodpecker and great grey shrike here if they’re lucky.
Churnet Valley Railway – one of the best places to visit in Staffordshire
The Churnet Valley Railway is one of England’s most scenic and charming journeys through Staffordshire’s hidden valley known as ‘Little Switzerland’, including the moorlands and the tip of the Peak District.
You can eat breakfast, lunch and cream tea while on board and they even offer train driving courses. In the future, they hope to connect to Leek but at the moment it takes you Between Kingsley & Froghall Station and Leekbrook. Easily one of the best things to do in Staffordshire.
Hawksmoor – an ancient woodland in the beautiful Churnet Valley
The ancient woodland of Hawksmoor is owned by the National Trust and embedded in the wonderful Churnet Valley. There are some incredible trails, including a circular route that goes around the equally stunning Dimmingsdale Valley. The nearby villages of Whiston and Oakamoor are also beautiful places to walk to and around.
Hawksmoor is a great place to spot birds like the spotted flycatcher, green woodpeckers, ravens, buzzards and kestrels. The Gibridding Wood is so beautiful that photographers and artists use it as their muse. If you want a complete change of scenery, then the Alton Towers theme park is so close to Hawksmoor that you can hear the screams!
Longton Park – one of Stoke’s pretty heritage parks
Longton Park is also known as Queen’s Park and located on the outskirts of Stoke-on-Trent. This Grade II listed Victorian municipal park was built in 1887 with tree-lined drives, shrubberies and a bandstand. There are two children’s park areas, football pitches, tennis courts and a skate park for recreation.
The beauty of the park is that you can go into the city and enjoy the cafes and restaurants there at lunchtime. Also nearby is the Gladstone Pottery Museum and the Parkhall Country Park if you want to extend your day out.
Boscobel House – a 1632 timber-framed lodge and historic farm
The historic Boscobel House and its Royal Oak tree is famous for being the hiding place of King Charles II after he was in the middle of being defeated at the Battle of Worcester in 1651.
The nearby White Ladies Priory was another one of his hiding places. Nowadays it is now a lodge, farmyard, gardens and a 1940s tea room. A descendant of the Royal Oak tree still remains.
Dimmingsdale – one of Staffordshire’s gorgeous hidden gems
One of Staffordshire’s hidden gems, the stunning Dimmingsdale Valley is the perfect spot for a ramble. It is so ecologically important that it has been designated as a site of special scientific interest. The drives here were originally built by the Earl of Shrewsbury and now walkers can follow the paths that the carriages of gentry used to travel on.
What makes this valley so special are the endless hills interspersed with dramatic sandstone outcrops. In the autumn, the changing of the leaves make this a great location for ‘leaf peeping’, and the hills look incredible covered with snow. The Sunday Times actually proclaimed that Dimmingsdale was one of the most beautiful places to walk in winter in the UK. Wonderful wildlife that you can find here are kingfishers, pied flycatchers, hares, pine martins, tawny owls, little owls and buzzards.
Tamworth Castle – an interesting historic attraction to explore
A great place to visit in Staffordshire, Tamworth Castle was originally built in Norman times, and was then added to by various owners over the years, from Medieval to Victorian times. The castle is a Grade I listed building in Tamworth that looks over the River Anker.
As well as plenty of history its grounds have a lot going on and here you can try crazy golf, tennis, table tennis, canoeing and paddleboarding in the river. Also don’t miss The Planet Walk which is a sculpture trail set within the castle gardens, which celebrates the artist Walenty Pytel, who created the artworks in his studio in neighbouring Ross-on-Wye.
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Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Ireland and the UK but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting craving for culture, good food and football. Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and has also just started his own blog called Bars and Spas. As well as Rome he also counts Melbourne and Tel Aviv among his favourite places and now permanently resides in Dublin. Follow Scott on Google+ and Twitter