This walk showcases the spectacular beauty of nature throughout the year – from the golden glow of autumn leaves to the vibrant bluebell woods in April/May.
4 miles - 90 - 120 mins
Turn right out of Canalside Farm gate. After a few metres you will cross the road bridge which spans the Trent and Mersey Canal (the UK’s first long distance canal stretching 93.5 miles in length, built by James Brindley in 1777 and championed by Josiah Wedgwood to transport pottery from his factory). Turn immediately left and walk down to join the Trent and Mersey Canal towpath. Turn right on the tow path and walk over the historical Junction Bridge that crosses the head of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. Continue on the towpath for 200 yards to meet your first canal lock.
At the lock go under the stone footbridge and turn immediately right. Walk through the iron gate and bare left to cross the historic Essex bridge (c1550) leading on to the Shugborough Estate.
The beautiful Essex Bridge was reputedly built by the Earl of Essex for Queen Elizabeth 1st to visit him in nearby Chartley Castle! It is today the longest remaining packhorse bridge in England with fourteen of its original forty round span arches left. From the bridge it looks like 3 rivers meet here, but it is actually only two – the Trent and the Sow. The third is a detour of the Sow which was man made to run close to Shugborough Hall for aesthetic value!
Continue straight ahead, walking down the bridle way across the park. You will see the palatial Shugborough Hall, and after about 10 minutes you will pass the National Trust ticket office on the right. Pass through the gate and continue over the railway bridge. Continue down the drive a little and as it bends to the right, keep walking straight ahead into the woodlands. After about 30metres turn left, onto the woodland path that runs parallel to the road.
During April/May time you will be greeted by a stunning display of bluebells on every bend going forward!
After a few hundred yards as the wood widens, to the left is a gated field with a stile leading to a bridge under the railway. Do not cross the stile, but follow the track beside the fence that leads back down to the River Trent. Continue to follow this woodland path besides the river for a few hundred yards.
Emerge onto the road up a small incline. Turn left for a few yards before turning left again down Meadow Lane over a cobbled bridge. Continue for a 1/4 mile until you reach the canal under the road. Cut down the path on the right of the road to rejoin the tow path. Turn left under the road bridge and continue on the towpath back to the lock at the start of the walk and follow back to the farm.