For my latest walk in the ‘Adventures with Les’ series, I headed south to Cannock Chase, Staffordshire. Our route linked two of the Midlands long distance paths, the Staffordshire Way and the Heart of England Way.
The Staffordshire Way (SW) is a 93 mile path from Mow Cop in the north of the county to Kinver Edge in the south. The Heart of England Way (HEW) is an 80 mile route from Milford to Chipping Camden.
We started the walk from Seven Springs GR004205. Crossing the A513 we continued ahead over Wheetman’s Bridge to reach the Trent and Mersey canal. We walked along the towpath to bridge 73 at Great Haywood lock. Leaving the canal we crossed Essex Bridge, a superb old packhorse bridge spanning the River Trent. We followed the drive through the Shugborough estate , the ancestral home of the Earl of Lichfield,with good views of the Georgian mansion house and the Triumphal Arch which dominates the skyline. The next section through the woods was a bit confusing with the route directions not corresponding to what was on the ground, but we emerged onto Milford Common where we enjoyed our lunch sitting in the sunshine. We now followed the HEW signs to the crest of the hill and then on to Coppice Hill. We continued across the chase until we reached a signpost where the HEW and the SW cross. From here we did a short loop to visit the Glacial Boulder, conveyed to Cannock Chase from Scotland in the last ice age. We were a bit dissappointed as it was nowhere near as big as the glacial boulder in Coronation Park,Crosby. It was more a ‘glacial pebble’ We now followed the Staffordshire Way down to Sherbrook Valley. We walked along the valley to the stepping stones, a popular picnic spot. Crossing the stones we followed a clear track back to our car at Seven Springs.
As we had plenty of time we drove to the Cannock Chase German Military Cemetery. In the 1960’s all the corpses of German servicemen who had died on British soil were transferred from various grave sites around the country to this central and beautiful site. Alongside is the Commonwealth cemetery containing 388 graves of men from the two world wars.
We had a dream day but a nightmare drive home. A grass verge fire and a breakdown on the M6 caused a 25 mile tailback from J15 to J19. It took two and a half hours to drive 80 miles. However after a couple of pints of John Smiths in the Nags Head, all was forgotten.
9 miles of easy walking in perfect conditions. A super day.