Cycle 1: Historic Local Canals, Beautiful Beech Woodlands & Shugborough Estate

4 miles - 40 minutes

Start of Cycle Route 1: From our Farm [1] turn right, cross over the road and then over the bridge. Turn left and then down to join the towpath of the Trent & Mersey Canal. This was the UK’s first long distance canal (93.5 miles) and was championed by Josiah Wedgwood to transport pottery from his factory on the outskirts of Stoke-on-Trent.

From the towpath go right and over Great Haywood’s historic Junction Bridge [2]. Turn immediately back to go under Junction Bridge and join the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal towpath. After 200m cross the aqueduct over the River Trent and continue on this towpath for approximately 1½ miles. During this part of your ride you will pass under a bridge connecting farmland; through the Tixall Wide [3] (where the local landowner insisted the canal be widened to look more natural when crossing their land!) and past a lock.

After 200m you will come to a road bridge over the canal. Turn up the steps at the far side of this bridge to join the road (Holdiford Road) [4]. Heading right and straight on the road, cycle over the old Sow River bridge then a railway bridge to arrive at Milford Common (a favourite access point onto Cannock Chase). Ignoring the small road off to the right (i.e. The Green, which forms one side of a triangle) continue to a T-junction with the A513 (the main Stafford/Rugeley Road). Turn left and cycle through the main Shugborough Estate entrance gates [5] (the pedestrian gate is normally open when the main gates are closed to cars). Once through, cycle up the beautiful wooded drive to emerge ½ mile later into open fields of the Estate.

Follow the drive to the main car park and past Shugborough Farm [6](open to the public). Turn left and continue straight (past the left drive option to Shugborough Hall) and head towards the wooded area 200m in front. Here cross the beautiful Essex Bridge [7], built in 1550’s reputedly by the Earl of Essex for Queen Elizabeth 1st to visit him in nearby Chartley Castle! It looks like 3 rivers meet here, but it’s actually only two – the Trent and the Sow. The third is a detour of the Sow which runs close to Shuborough Hall for aesthetic value! Cycle 20m and turn right through a wall to rejoin the canal Trent & Mersey Canal towpath. Turn left under the footbridge, past the lock and back to Junction Bridge, rejoining the road (Mill Lane) to our Farm [1].