There is a vast network of beautiful walks to explore the hidden treasures of the Churnet Valley. Here is a selection of Churnet Valley Walks for varying abilities for you to try.
There are so many beautiful walking routes in the UK we are spoilt for choice! The Churnet Valley has lots of lovely walks full of wildflowers, wildlife, and wonderful views. Here is a selection of Churnet Valley Walks easy to moderate in difficulty for you to try.
Froghall to Cheddleton
7 miles | easy difficulty
This lovely walk will take you from Froghall to Cheddleton through Churnet Valley. You will follow the Caldon Canal and the River Churnet between the two towns. It is a peaceful walk with truly stunning views.
This route starts on the Caldon Canal at Froghall Wharf however if you prefer you could start from the Kingsley and Froghall Station on the Churnet Valley Railway. The station is close to the canal and this gives you the choice of returning using the heritage railway. The route falls the towpath round to Consall where it takes a detour from the canal to visit Consall Nature Park.
Trails through the woods are well marked and you will pass large ponds, pretty streams, and a small challenging climb to Kingsley Banks, which is so worth it for the views overlooking Churnet Valley. After a woodland wander, this route then returns to the canal guides you onto Consall Forge where you can stop for refreshments at the canalside Black Lion Inn. Here you can get some seriously tasty traditional pub food to keep you going! A lovely spot with plenty of outdoor seating with views of the canal and the passing steam trains.
The canal continues into Cheddleton where you will find the Churnet Valley Railway centre and the train station where you can catch the train back to Froghall.
Caldon Canal to Ipstones circular
10.54 miles | easy to moderate difficulty
This route is perfect for a full day out enjoying everything Staffordshire has to offer. It starts at the impressive Froghall Lime Kilns by Froghall Warf. Listed early 19th-century they are lime kilns of rock-faced sandstone, ashlar and brick construction overlooking Froghall Basin. This route follows the Caldon Canal and takes you past Consall Station and Consall Forge Lime Kilns on the way to Cheddleton. On your return, the journey takes you across fields to the village of Ipstones, before the final section following Blackbank Brook through woodlands to Froghall.
There are a few lovely pubs, cafes, and tea rooms to stop at for refreshments on this route however we fully recommend visiting Hetty’s Tea Rooms. It is perfectly placed in Froghall Wharf and is a total dream. Brimming with cosy interiors, a magical atmosphere, homemade scones, and incredibly tasty oatcakes.
13 miles | easy to moderate difficulty
Leek is just a perfect place for walkers, there’s a pretty canal, plenty of parks, reservoirs, hill climbs, and good waymarked trails to try out. We love this circular walk because it visits some of the highlights of the area including the Caldon Canal, the River Churnet, Ladderedge Country Park, and Tittesworth Reservoir. The route makes use of the waymarked Staffordshire Moorlands Walks for the duration and includes some woodland sections and moderate hill climbs.
The walk starts in Leek on the Caldon Canal in Barnfields, just to the south of the town centre. There is a public car park and an aqueduct here. You can pick up the waymarked trail and follow it west to Ladderedge Park. There are 70 acres of wetland, meadows, and woodlands with incredible views over the Churnet Valley here.
Near the end of Tittesworth, you will find one of the best walks in the Peak District at The Roaches. It runs along an elevated rocky ridge, with fascinating rock formations and wonderful views of the surrounding countryside and the reservoir below. Near here there’s also the climb to Hen Cloud where there are more great views.
Oakamoor and Whiston circular
8 miles | moderate difficulty
This walk around the Churnet valley starts in Oakamoor, Oakamoor is a village close to Alton Towers. Its location provides relatively easy access to the Staffordshire Way, Hawksmoor Nature Reserve, Dimmingsdale, and the Churnet Valley Way. Ramblers and dog walkers will find plenty of walks around the village. For cyclists, there is a track, which runs from Oakamoor all the way to Denstone about 3 miles away.
However, this route follows Cotton Dell upstream to the nature reserve, then climbs up through picturesque woodland and over the hilltops to Whiston. From there the walk crosses the valley and passes through the National Trust’s woods at Hawksmoor before returning to Oakamoor.
Rudyard Lake circular
5 miles | easy difficulty
Although not a natural lake, this is a beautiful place to visit and enjoy the scenery. This lake was built in 1796 as a feeder reservoir to supply the Caldon Canal. This Lake is a really important site for local wildlife and is a vital habitat for lots of birds such as Grebes, Coots, and Herons. Don’t skip this walk during winter as you will miss out on the flocks of colourful ducks and wading birds such as Curlew and Snipe. The range of habitats from marshy grassland to open water results in this wonderful variety of wildlife and wildflowers.
This walk uses public rights of way for the majority of the route. The disused railway line on this route is included with the permission of the Staffordshire County Council. The route is well waymarked and easy to follow for an enjoyable day out.
Countryfile recommended walk – Ramblers’ Retreat, Alton, Staffordshire
4 miles | easy difficulty
This route starts by crossing over Lord’s Bridge, then the old railway. You then bear right until you come across the chained oak tree. In 1821, the 15th Earl of Shrewsbury had the branches chained to prevent them from falling and therefore avoiding a beggar’s curse!
Next, you will head upstream on the converted former railway and soon you arrive at Oakamoor car park, where copper works stood until 1962; the wire for the first transatlantic telegraph cable was made here in 1857. This route takes you into Dimmingsdale, a craggy valley with majestic Scots pines, broadleaves, and beautiful wildflowers. The walk passes furnace ponds as it follows a brook back to the Ramblers’ Retreat.
Make sure to stop at the Ramblers’ Retreat nestled in Dimmingsdale for delicious Staffordshire oatcakes, incredible puddings, and heavenly cakes. Whether you choose to eat in the cosy snug, airy conservatory or beautiful woodland gardens, you’ll find the atmosphere extremely homely, warm and welcoming.
And as well as enjoying a delicious meal, you can also take in the beauty and tranquillity of Dimmingsdale by strolling through the valley.
The Churnet Valley Geotrail
16 miles over various walks, complete in sections | easy to moderate difficulty
This Geotrail is designed to give you a glimpse of the rocks, minerals, fossils, and industrial heritage of the area which is intimately linked to the local geology. Perfect for those interested in geology or who want to learn more about the area. This entire trail is 25 km/16 miles long which is likely too much to challenge in one walking session! They recommend that you complete it in sections and really take in the surroundings of each location. You can complete it in sections from the access points at Froghall Wharf, Oakamoor, Rambler’s Retreat, Hawksmoor Nature Reserve, and Highshutt.
Alternative routes to make these into shorter circular walks are indicated in the below link to download their guide and are shown in italics. The trail mainly follows public footpaths and other marked trails, including part of the Staffordshire Way, but visitors should note that some of these have steep sections and muddy, uneven terrain, and the use of suitable footwear is advised. There are also some sections along minor roads where particular care should be taken of the traffic.
Have you tried any of these Churnet Valley walks? Let us know your experience in the comments below.