WITH the summer holidays in full swing, families are being encouraged to explore Staffordshire’s extensive canal network and miles of towpaths.
Boasting the most miles of canals amongst shire counties, waterways have been at the heart of Staffordshire ever since the great age of canal building.
Today, it’s one of the prettiest ways to explore the county, providing a beautiful setting for a boater’s holiday or for a scenic canal walk with the family.
Gill heath, Cabinet Member for communities at Staffordshire County Council said: “There are more miles of canals in Staffordshire than any other county in England and that’s something we are very proud of. Although built for an industrial age, these sleepy backwaters cut gently through some of the best of the Staffordshire countryside and are a great way to explore the county.
“Our canals and towpaths are perfect for a boating, angling, walking or cycling holiday, and great for local families just getting out and enjoying the fresh air. I would definitely urge families to pack a picnic and check out their nearest canal or towpath.”
The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal is one of the county’s most notable canals. It started out life as one of the major routes of the canal age, constantly busy with coal and pottery boats, and undoubtedly played a significant role in the development of Staffordshire as a county. It links the River Severn at Stourport in Worcestershire, with the Trent and Mersey Canal at Great Haywood Junction.
The Trent and Mersey Canal is home to some fascinating points of interest to explore in the summer, including the historical Harding’s Wood Canal Junction, which is one only of two canal flyover junctions in Britain. It’s also home to Harecastle Tunnel, just north of Stoke-on-Trent, which is known for the long-standing rumours of ghosts keeping visitors company here.
Burton isn’t far away from the Trent and Mersey canal either, and you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. A visit to Burton’s National Forest Llama Treks is bound to be a hit with the kids, and you’ll come away with some memorable photos!
Tamworth and Lichfield are close to Staffordshire’s rich canal system too, near the Coventry Canal as it winds south from Fradley Junction where you will also find delightful cafes. Take a step back in time and board a steam train at Lichfield’s Chasewater Railway or alongside the Caldon Canal on the Churnet Valley Railway.
Staffordshire canals can also take you to historic towns like Stafford, Stone and Newcastle under Lyme. In Stafford, you can follow four hundred years of history at England’s largest timber-framed house – Ancient High House. If your canal adventure takes you to Newcastle, you can also feel a part of history by doing a spot of shopping at its famous market that dates all the way back to 1173!
For additional holiday or day trip ideas for Staffordshire visit www.enjoystaffordshire.com