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Tuesday, 3 January 2012

10 reasons to love Staffordshire

Ok, so I know it's not original to post a top 10 about somewhere or something...but actually in this case it is the perfect way to quickly give you a run down why loving Staffordshire is so easy! I sat down to make a few notes about the post, thinking I should be methodical and prepared - but in fact I had filled ten places in 5 minutes and thought I should have done a top 20. Anyway...I have stuck to a top 10 for now so don't panic if I haven't mentioned you fave place - there will be more!
1. Landscape - obvious to many but not to some. The countryside and landscape of Staffordshire can rival any of it's more famous neighbours. Not only is it beautiful, it is also wide ranging. You can enjoy dramatic moorlands, deep, secluded valleys, lush open fields, rolling hills and woodland and forests all in one county. Many comment on the peace of the landscape and lack of crowds too. How can you resist?
2. People - I know everyone says it about their own place or home, but really the people of Staffordshire are very friendly, warm and welcoming. We have little arrogance or self importance, we work hard and enjoy chat and are pleased to invite folks to enjoy the county. There have been many times over the years when guests have been blown away by local people who put themselves out to be friendly and visitors have said that it has genuinely made all the difference to their visit.
3. Food - maybe this should have been number 1! Food is so important to a place and Staffordshire is no exception. Not only is the county blessed with rich farmland for meat, dairy products and great local veg, Staffordshire also has a rich industrial heritage that has produced wonderful local recipes and specialities like the oatcake and Staffordshire Lobby. Staffordshire is quickly becoming known for it's great local food from award winning sausages and cheese to fabulous restaurants and pubs. Don't forget this also goes hand in hand with ale too! Staffordshire boasts many award winning breweries and micro breweries - so be assured your mouth won't be dry.
4. History - Well you can start with a Roman settlement like the one in Wall, near Lichfield then try a Norman village like Alton, moving onto a wonderful market town like Leek whose origins are said to be Saxon. There is the Staffordshire Hoard to be enjoyed and of course the fabulous castle in Tutbury to name but a few places. The options are endless in this truly historic county, once in the middle of Mercia. 
5. Architecture - Staffordshire is teeming with beautiful buildings, places to visit and places to enjoy. The obvious place to start in Stoke-on-Trent, where you can visit bottle kilns and original factories and works like Gladstone and Burleigh in Burlsem. Less known are the Pugin treasures of Cheadle church and Alton Castle or Croxden Abbey. Lichfield Cathedral is an absolute gem - perfect location in town for coffee, shops & views but comes into its own when hosting a musical concert.
6. Location - seems obvious but isn't Staffordshire in the most ideal place?! If you are planning a holiday it is within easy reach for all your guests to get to and enjoys fabulous public transport links from London and up north. If you are in Staffordshire, you are within an hour of Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield, The Peak National Park, Shropshire...do I need to go on? 
7. Walking & Activities - where to start? Although the National Park, the Lakes and the Yorkshire Dales are popular and deservedly so - Staffordshire is a hidden gem. There are the moors and hills of the north of the county. The famous Roaches and the Staffordshire Moorlands are stunning, dramatic and above all peaceful and not crowded. If you like dingly dells and woods there are plenty. Dimmingsdale, the Churnet Valley, the Cauldon Canal etc are all beautiful and offer special walks and secluded wonder. If you like open spaces then Cannock Chase may be for you. There are activities available on the Chase or simply walking and picnics. Again you will find there aren't the crowds to encounter compared to some of our neighbours.
8. Places to stay - The beauty of Staffordshire and its landscapes, means that the choice of accommodation is really great. You can stay in the historic towns of Lichfield, Stafford, Leek, Uttoxeter and more, where you will enjoy cafes, architecture and local markets. You can also stay in amazing cottages looking over open fields and landscapes. Whatever your preferences, there will be the choice for you. Check out a handpicked guide here. 
9. Markets - Staffordshire has a growing reputation for great markets. There are regular collectors markets, good farmer's markets and busy local markets as well as special fine food festivals and vintage fairs. One of my favourites is Leek Collectors Market every Friday - full of stalls with baskets of old door knobs, ancient garden tools and special costume jewellery. A good list of food markets can be found on our site.
10. Festivals - Every year there is the Peak District Walking Festival and what is little known is that many of the walks are in the Staffordshire Peak District. Held in May, they are fabulous routes led by enthusiastic locals and normally involve cake opportunities! This year there is a Pugin Festival to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth. Also this year, there will be the opportunity to see the Olympic flame in Staffordshire. The summer brings the Lichfield Arts Festival, which brings famous musical names from all over the world. This year it's taking place from the 4th to the 15th July, with the Literature Festival following in October.


supercleancarpets said...

great post and i second Cannock chase i live nearby and i love the place

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Brett said...

I second that it is a great post, but the picture at the top is Derbyshire, Hollinsclough the village is in the staffs moorlands but the hills are over the river in Derbyshire. I known as I went out to photograph them for my Leek and Staffs moorlands blog only to read the map properly after I had got back. Still I am able to use them now on my Buxton and Peak District blog.