Staffordshire Link
Part 6 of the End-to-End Walk from Land's End to John O'Groats


The Staffordshire Link was one of the last of the English sections of the End-to-End jigsaw to fall into place. It is based partly on the Staffordshire Way (an official long distance path) and partly on the Limestone Way, and serves to join two rather more substantial sections; the Heart of England Way and my self-devised White Peak Way.

When I first looked for a way of linking the Heart of England Way to the White Peak Way I had little to go on. My HOE guidebook took me as far as the forested Sherborne Valley on Cannock Chase, where the path met the route of the Staffordshire Way. It took me a surprisingly long time to get hold of any kind of map of the latter route, by which time I had already completed the HOE and had got horribly lost among army firing ranges trying to reach the nearby town of Rugeley and its railway station. The HOE had, though I didn't know at the time, already been revised and no longer terminated at Sherborne. I've since revised the last day of the HOE to connect to the Staffordshire Way on Cannock Chase and to follow this around to its closest approach to Rugeley along the canal. The Staffordshire Link, therefore, begins at this point.

I was pleased to find, having discovered the route of the Staffordshire Way at last, that it passed withing ten miles of Ilam. It took very little work with the map to plot a series of local footpaths linking the two, diverging from the Staffordshire Way at the Churnet Valley and running through the grounds of Wootton Lodge (headquarters of the J C Bamford engineering company and adjacent to the Alton Towers leisure park). It has to be said that the link proved awkward - much of the theoretical path network hereabouts has been obliterated by quarrying and much of the rest is complicated by routefinding problems. In 2004 I decided to abandon my original route beyond Rocester and instead adopted the Limestone Way between there and Dovedale.

The route is, like the Heart of England Way, a journey through pastoral, everyday English countryside. It's a warts-and-all route, for not every village or farmyard is a vision of chocolate-box prettiness. This is land that is worked and lived in. There is charm here, though. In particular there is a tangible feeling that the cramped, bustling Midlands are falling behind and the inspiring, wide-open vistas of the North are very close. And not only do the landscapes improve, but attitudes seem to change too. The people behind you are pleasant and civil, but those ahead of you are genuinely warm and welcoming.


Public transport links are, as usual, the key to this walk. Many towns in the north Midlands make suitable bases for exploration though unfortunaely none of those available (Stoke, Derby, Uttoxeter, or Rugeley itself) are particularly attractive in themselves. The first walk might reasonably be tackled from Lichfield in conjunction with the second half of the Heart of England Way, while I would propose Ashbourne as the nicest available base to walk the second and third hikes (you could also make a start on the White Peak Way from here). 

The various one-day walks that make up the Staffordshire Link:

(Click the links for the individual walk indexes and photo galleries)
1 Rugeley to Uttoxeter 12.1 miles
2 Uttoxeter to Ellastone
7.4 miles
3 Ellastone to Thorpe 6.8 miles


(No links available yet)
Heart of England Way Back to main index White Peak Way

This page last updated 25th February 2006