Days out in Staffordshire
Whatever your choice of day out with family or friends will include, there’s plenty going on all across Staffordshire to keep everyone entertained. The cities of Stoke-on-Trent and Lichfield are a great mix of contemporary buzz and historic interest, while the smaller towns of Cannock, Stafford, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Uttoxeter, Tamworth, and Burton-upon-Trent all have much to explore.
Stoke-on-Trent is known for its heritage in pottery, so a visit to the Potteries Museum and Gallery in Hanley is absolutely essential. The World of Wedgwood Museum in Barlaston provides an interactive experience on the city’s famous fine china and porcelain production. In Longton, the Victorian Gladstone Pottery Museum and Factory (home to TV’s Great Pottery Throwdown) is the place to throw a pot (not literally).
In Lichfield, the medieval history and architecture of Lichfield Cathedral are there for all to see, together with its famous triple spires. Literary buffs will love the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, which is well worth visiting to learn more about his early life and times. Don’t miss the statue of the man himself, and his companion, James Boswell, in Market Street.
Home to several major breweries, a guided tour of the National Brewery Centre Museum in Burton-on-Trent is a must. Step back in time in Tamworth with a visit to Tamworth Castle and discover a whole range of history from different eras. For a great family day out filled with amazing rides, attractions, Thomas Land, and the zoo, don’t miss a trip to Drayton Manor Theme Park.
But when it comes to theme parks, no trip to Staffordshire would be complete without a full day out at the mother of them all – Alton Towers. Covering over 900 acres, it’s the largest in the UK and home to some of the most infamous rides and attractions around.
Staffordshire also has some amazing outdoor spaces and places to explore too. Just outside Stafford, you have the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the heart of the county. Although it is England’s smallest AONB, its beautiful landscape covers 26 sq. miles that includes forest, heath, and farmland and offers a great mix of walking, cycling, and horse riding trails.
Sharing with its neighbour Derbyshire, there’s also north Staffordshire’s portion of the wonderful Peak District National Park – an area of beautiful countryside, it’s another ideal walking, cycling, horse riding, or climbing area to explore. Don’t miss Thor’s Cave near Grindon – a spectacular, natural cavern in a limestone crag.
Elford Hall Gardens
The hall has been demolished and the site built over, but the walled garden remains. A recent grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has ensured the preservation of the walled garden, which has been renovated as a community project.
The site has formal gardens, pleasure grounds and a landscape park. The park covers some 200 hectares, and was laid out around 1759 for the Earl Gower by Capability Brown. The formal gardens cover around two hectares, and were laid out in the 1830s and 1840s by Sir Charles Barry and W A Nesfield.
Topography, geology, and climate
Staffordshire is a lovely blend of open countryside, farmland, and heathland giving it a diverse landscape that provides a patchwork of assorted land qualities and soil types with different fertility levels.
The majority of the county is made up of seasonally wet, slightly acidic, base-rich loam and clay with medium fertility, plus areas of heavier loam and clay with a slightly higher level of fertility. Around Stoke-on-Trent and the far north, similar soils are more highly acidic with a lower fertility level. The area over Cannock Chase is a low fertility region with sand and loam soils and a high acid content while towards Lichfield, low fertility sandy soils are more prominent.
With similar weather and climate to its landlocked neighbours, Staffordshire has overall milder winters with temperatures averaging around 2.5ºC (36.5ºF) while summer temperatures can come in at an average of 21ºC (70ºF). Rainfall across the county can be variable but averages around 745mm (29”).
Staffordshire’s parks and gardens
In addition to its array of attractions, Staffordshire also has several stand-out gardens to visit and enjoy. From city parks to stately homes and glorious hidden gems, there’s plenty to see for everyone and inspire every gardener and horticulturalist too.
- North Staffordshire
A surprising and unexpected delight, Biddulph Grange Garden just north of Stoke-on-Trent is a must-visit National Trust treat. This glorious Victorian garden takes you on a journey as you discover Italian terraces, an Egyptian pyramid, a Himalayan Glen, a Chinese garden, and a series of walkthrough tunnels and trimmed hedges, with lovely beds, borders and a stunning display of Rhododendrons.
Close to the Cheshire and Shropshire borders in Willoughbridge, the Dorothy Clive Garden is a hidden gem that will take your breath away. Covering 12-acres, this hillside garden has something for everyone. With plenty of interest all through the year, you can experience a beautiful Laburnum arch, Azalea walk, and Camelia walk alongside the Quarry garden with a stunning waterfall, an Alpine Scree, and a host of seasonal borders filled with colour.
As part of the wider 750 acre Trentham Estate, Trentham Gardens just outside Stoke-on-Trent offers a majestic look at one of the country’s best garden makeovers. Originally designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, the 300 acre gardens consist of absolutely stunning formal Italianate gardens overlooking the trademark one mile long Trentham lake.
Take the peaceful Fairy Walk around the gardens and lake, and through parts of the surrounding woodland, to discover plenty of nature and wildlife alongside the naturalistic River of Grass and the Floral Labyrinth, studded with plenty of bold perennials. Trentham should be at the top of your list to visit.
- South Staffordshire
Near the village of Milford just outside Stafford, Shugborough Hall is a Georgian mansion surrounded by 900 acres of sweeping parkland and woodland and some seriously lovely gardens. The recently restored Walled garden is home to a range of fruit and veg as well as the Head Gardener’s House and Dahlia greenhouse, while the Formal garden features a beautiful Victorian rose garden and a range of terraces filled with seasonal colour and scent.
Elford Hall Garden near Tamworth is an award-winning community garden project run by volunteers who have created a beautiful space with plenty of display and a real hidden gem. Filled with a range of allotments inside an old Victorian walled garden, pathways lead you through thriving herbaceous borders, a sensory garden, plus an orchard with several beehives.
In Burton-upon-Trent, Stapenhill Gardens overlook the River Trent and are linked to the Washlands via the historic Ferry Bridge. Providing a much-loved urban retreat, the gardens feature plenty of formal style plantings and award-winning seasonal beds and border displays to enjoy, alongside the famous swan sculpture. The gardens also lead into the Stapenhill Woodland and Riverside walks, home to a diverse mix of plants, flowers, trees, and an abundance of wildlife. Just 20 minutes from Burton town centre, Stapenhill Gardens offers a slice of countryside paradise for all the family to enjoy.