Rugeley to Uttoxeter Back to Staffordshire Link index Ellastone to Thorpe

The Walk

This section of the Staffordshire Link follows the Staffordshire Way from Uttoxeter to Rocester in the morning, then the Limestone Way from Rocester to Ellastone in the afternoon. Much of the walk runs close to the river Dove and is a mix of pastures, meadows and fieldside paths plus the odd clump of woodland. The walk begins at Uttoxeter railway station and ends at Ellastone, which is on a bus route. Buses also call at Rocester, giving you the opportunity to break the walk into two half day walks should you prefer.

Unfortunately there are several potential routefinding problems. I will address them within the narrative as thoroughly as I can.

Walk Statistics:
Length: 7.35 miles / 11.8 km
Total ascent: 426 ft / 130 m
Total descent: 368 ft / 112 m
Estimated time: 2 hrs 20 mins

Map: OS 1:25000 Explorer 259 (Derby)

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Outside Uttoxeter station

The walk begins very conveniently at Uttoxeter railway station, on the southeast corner of the town. Finding the right of way is a little confusing at first but if you leave the station at its western end and go out to the turning circle you will find a road leading to the right. It runs between the station (to your right) and a number of factory units (to your left). The road leads in turn to a rough track running south of the factories (second image above) to an entrance to the grounds of Uttoxeter racecourse. Go through a gate and turn left to cross a pasture.

Pastures east of Uttoxeter

There's not much to see in this section. Your initial route runs up to a small group of farm buildings. Once past these continue on the same general bearing. These pastures occupy the whole area to the east of the town. Approach and cross a stile just short of a row of pylons (third image above) and then make for a point roughly a hundred metres west of the bridge carrying the town bypass over the river Dove. It's easy to miss as there's nothing to steer by.

Approaching the Dove bridge

If you reach the footpath marker by the west bank of the Dove (third image above) you're actually lost. The correct point of exit from the pasture is some 100 metres to the west (first image below). Your next task is twofold: firstly, to cross the Dove by using the pedestrian way on the south side of the bridge, and secondly, to cross the road itself by using the footpath along the east bank of the Dove under the road bridge. This can be hellishly confusing for those not already in the know and it took me some 45 minutes to work it out.

The route at Dove Bridge

So to recap, first cross the river along the pedestrian way on the south side of the bridge (second image above and first below) then turn right off the roadway for the path down to the riverbank (second image below), and finally turn right again for the riverbank path under the road (third image below).

Dove Bridge

Now things become more straightforward and enjoyable. The next part of the route runs generally north northeast through or beside river meadows. You will first spot the original stone bridge over the Dove, a rather more appealing sight than the functional concrete job you just left behind, and which formed the original route of the Staffordshire Way before the bypass was built.

The original bridge over the Dove


Entering the meadow section

Cross a stile and head off across the river meadow towards a group of trees. Depending on the time of year there may, or may not, be an obvious route on the ground. The Dove has made a wide meander to the west here but we're heading for the northeast corner of this meander, by a group of trees on a slope (first image below).

The route beside the Dove

Once you reach the trees there is ample scope for confusion once again, and the waymarking could be better. It's not obvious from the surroundings which way to go from here. The map suggests that you keep hard by the riverbank below the slope but this is incorrect, and anyway the vegetation is too dense to allow progress. Follow a green lane just to the right of the trees (second image above). You will see a stile over to your right with a footpath marker (first image below) - ignore this! It's a side path heading northeast to the top of Eaton Hill and beyond. Stay on the grassy bank immediately to the right of a line of trees (second image below). Now you're OK again.

Point of confusion;  path along bank;  woodside path

At the far end of this pasture you emerge beside a cropped field (thid image above). Stay on the edge of this field, with the wood to your left, and follow the field edge all the way along, curving to the right to reach a motor road by the entrance to Doveridge sports club.

Fieldside path;  entrance to Doveridge sports club;  sportsclub drive

Doveridge sports club is a clay pigeon shooting centre. Clay pigeons, for those who don't know, are ceramic discs not unlike frisbees that are propelled into the air so that shotgun enthisiasts can pop away at moving targets. It's a hell of a lot more civilised than firing at real birds. Even so, remember that there will be people here wielding loaded firearms and there will be live ammunition flying about. Be careful.

The driveway takes you down to the cubhouse and car park, which you leave to your left. Now there's another confusing, badly waymarked bit. It appears that the correct route is to doglef left and right past the clubhouse to keep a second building to your right. Not far ahead you leave the environs of the sports ground to follow a farm track.

Through and beyond the sports club

Once you're past Eaton Hall Farm at the north end of the sports club you're in a wide open world of fields and pastures. This is the flood plain of the Dove. The river itself is some way over to your left, while the wooded slopes of Eaton Hill lay a few hundred metres to the right. The track runs generally northwards, mainly alongside hedges. About a kilometre north of the sports club you turn right and approach Eaton Dovedale farm, hard underneath the slopes of Eaton Hill.

The Staffordshire Way north of Doveridge

The farm road turns left in front of the farm and continues northwards. You approach the loality of Sedsall. A cottage, empty and boarded up when I came this way in 2004, sits within a fork in the path (second image below); go to the left here.

The route at Sedsall

Beyond Sedsall the Staffordshire Way runs close to another woodland plantation on the slopes of the hill immediately to the right. The river converges from the left once again and the Way squeezes through a pleasant neck of woodland to approach the grounds of Abbotsholme School.


The approach to Abbotsholme

This is a pleasnt section of river meadows and trees, and the Dove flows by to the left. Rocester is only a kiometre away to the northwest, and beyond it you should be catching glimpses of the Weaver Hills - the first outliers of the Pennines.

Riverside scenes, Abbotsholme

The section along which the path is squeezed between the river and the wood seems to run for rather longer than the map would suggest. Eventually you cross a side stream by a plank footbridge and come out into the grounds of Abbotsholme school proper. The immadiate prospect is a vista of green, with rugby pitches laying to your right and the river to the left. The river itself is particularly scenic here.

Riverside scenes, Abbotsholme School

Once again there is scope for going wrong and the relative lack of waymarking is at fault. There is a natural tendency to heep hard by the riverbank and the map suggests that this is correct. Unfortunately not. Look out for the point at which the river bends quite sharply to the left, just by the most manicured part of the school playing fields.

Abbotsholme School playing fields

If you see the scenes in the two picture above you're heading the wrong way. However, there's an excellent lunch stop here - behind the hedge to your left is a lovely little riverside glade complete with bench seating (first image below). It gives access to a path alongside the riverbanl as it curves to the left. You could actually head along this way if you wish because this path follows the riverbank around three sides of a pasture west of the school playing fields. It looks more obvious on the map than it does on the ground. Your correct route, however, is to the right of the rugby pitches (third image below). This will bring you out at the far corner of the square pasture.

Riverside glade;  riverside path (incorrect route); correct route alongside rugby pitch

With one confusing section just behind you, you run straight into another one. Your correct route is alongside the riverbank to your right. The path to the left looks correct but is in fact the other end of the riverbank path that left from the glade a few minutes behind. Head to the right across a stile and keep following the right of way by the riverbank as it bends to the left again.

Approaching the north end of the school playing field;  the riverbank.

The correct route to the right alongside the riverbank

Now the route is straightforward again, if a bit less pleasing to the eye. The path runs by the riverbank alongside a couple of fields, crossing a side stream by a rather neat little bridge (middle picture below). Soon after you see another road bridge across the Dove just up ahead. This is your way into Rocester.

The riverbank path approaching Rocester

Riverbridge east of Rocester



Turn left omto the bridge and follow the road for the short distance into the little town of Rocester. It's quite a sleepy little place, with a handful of shops and a pub or two on the main street. The "-cester" suffix tells you that Rocester is of Roman origin so it has a long history. To the west of the town is a big industrial park, which you will only see if you make use of the bus back to Uttoxeter; it's the headquarters of the J C Bamford company, manufacturers of mechanical diggers and other earth moving machinery. The grounds are extensive and feature two sizeable lakes, features of the river Churnet which branched away from the Dove west of Sedsall. Should you wish to break the journey here the 32A bus (Hanley - Uttoxeter) and the 409 bus (Ashbourne - Ellastone - Uttoxeter) both call at Rocester. The 32A runs an hourly service.

We leave the Staffordshire Way here at Rocester to follow the Limestone Way to Ellastone. Walk north from the crossroads at the centre of town for about 400 metres, and at a bend in the road take a turning to the right into a residential road. The houses along here look very recent. Near the end of the road find a footpath (third picture above) off to the left.


Pastures north of Rocester, and the JCB site

The footpath runs through a series of pastures north of the town. The scenery here is nothing special. If you look back to your left you will see the huge warehouse buildings of the JCB industrial park.


Stay more or less on the same line and find the stiles giving you access to each succeeding pasture. You cross the B5080 road and continue in the same direction, passing close to the prominent white house of Barrowhills which you leave to your left. Beyond Barrowhills the path continues across fields for another 400 metres or so to reach te B5080 a second time just beside Dalesgap (which, once again, you leave to your left). Cross the road to pick up the continuation of the path through yet another series of pastures, heading downhill towards the Dove.

Pastures beyond Dalesgap

Riverside Doveleys

Approaching the Dove

This is a pleasant section and the path is better defined than it was back around Barrowhills and Dalesgap. If you're looking for a spot for an afternoon refreshment break take it at a copse of trees about 500 metres past Dalesgap, for once you get down to the riverbank there's not really anywhere suitable to sit down. The path runs past a locality called Riverside Doveleys. which is off to your left. The river appears to your right, screened off for much of the initial stretch by a ribbon of trees and vegetation.

The route at Riverside Doveleys

From here on just walk on by the riverbank, or as near to it as the path will allow depending on the amount of vegetation. The river and path gradually curve around to the right and you end up heading northeast, accompanied by a set of power lines. The scenery improves and you arrive at an area of lush meadow grass with the river hard to your right. A handsome stone bridge appears up ahead.

The path by the Dove, approaching Ellastone


The bridge carries the B5033 road across the Dove into Lower Ellastone, which is immediately to the left. The riverbank by the bridge is a lovely spot. Go up to the road and turn left, heading into the village.

Lower Ellastone

About 250 metres along from the bridge is a farm driveway to the right (third picture above). That's the continuation of the Limestone Way and is the beginning of tomorrow's walk. We're done for today, so walk onwards to the road junction and turn right for Ellastone proper. The Ashbourne - Rocester - Uttoxeter bus runs through the village.

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This page last updated 23rd February 2006