The county of Staffordshire is in the very heart of the inland waterways network with more miles of canals than any other Shire county. The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal flows from Stourport Basin at the junction with the River Sever to Great Haywood were it links to the Trent and Mersey Canal. The Caldon Canal also flows through the county and takes you from Stoke-on-Trent's historic potteries district to picturesque rural Staffordshire and the Churnet Valley. Built in 1776, the Caldon Canal is widely seen as one of the most interesting waterways in the country.
The Coventry Canal meanders it way past Fradley Junction, north of Lichfield through the town of Tamworth. The Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal forms part of the popular Four Counties Ring cruising route, with the Trent and Mersey canal and the Shropshire Union Canal.
Staffordshire boast two fantastic theme parks, Alton Towers and Drayton Manor. The Alton Towers Resort Theme Park has an amazing selection of thrill rides and family attractions. Head deep underground and experience the terrifying new attraction Nemesis Sub-Terra. Enter X-Sector for Oblivion and Submission. Enjoy Ice Age The 4D Experience which has an exhilarating variety of physical effects including icy blasts, snow and bubbles. Plus, from Sonic Spinball to the water-filled excitement of The Flume and Congo River Rapids there is so much fun to be had with laughs and fun frights at Alton Towers Resort. Drayton Manor is home to Europe's only Thomas Land, which features wonderful themed rides and attractions based on characters, including Thomas the Tank Engine, Cranky the Crane and Harold the Helicopter. The park also boasts some of the biggest, wettest and scariest rides around including white-knuckle thrill rides such as the adrenaline-inducing drop-tower, Apocalypse, stand-up coaster, Shockwave and the splash-tastic log flume, Stormforce 10.
Tamworth Castle, a number one heritage attraction, is located in the town centre, take a tour of the castle and journey through time starting at the Medieval Dungeons. Tamworth Castle promises a brilliant day out for all the family as there is plenty to see and even more to do with hands on displays and costumes.
The Snowdome has real snow every day of the year with a host of winter activities under one roof. The 170 metre main slope and the two Snow Academy areas offer a wide variety of skiing and snowboarding lessons and sessions. The Snowdome boasts the UK's only dedicated children's snowplay area, the ice skating rink and Ice Track. The real snow slopes offer a huge range of fun activities for adults and children of all ages and abilities. During December Santa and his Reindeer are in residence in a magical winter wonderland.
Close to the canal at Alrewas is The National Memorial Arboretum this is a very special place honouring those who have served, and continue to serve, our nation. Covering 150 acres it is not a cemetery but a living tribute where 50,000 trees grow. The Arboretum has something for everyone, for some it's a wonderful place to stroll and enjoy the trees and for others it's a peaceful and beautiful place to remember loved ones, particularly those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. There are many walks and trails to explore you can choose a walk to suit your time and abilities. Explore Cannock Chase, Britain's smallest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and is an idyllic place for walks and bike rides. It is a haven of rolling hills, purple heather and unspoilt miles of quiet forest tracks. You could well catch sight of the fallow deer that wander through the birches and pines, descendants of the herd that was once part of this royal hunting forest. Go Ape for some tree top adventure, fly down a huge zip wire or leap off Tarzan Swings and enjoy the high ropes obstacles.
As you cruise through the Churnet Valley you may be lucky enough to see one of the steam trains chugging along where the railway passes close to the canal. The Churnet Valley Railway takes you on a journey back to the classic days of railway travel on a rural line that passes through beautiful countryside known as Staffordshire's 'Little Switzerland'.
Stoke-on-Trent is known as 'The Potteries', and it is a unique city made up of six separate towns: Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley (the City Centre), Stoke, Fenton and Longton. The City is the centre of the UK ceramic industry and home to some of the world's greatest pottery manufacturers, including, Wedgwood, Royal Doulton and Spode. In the City Centre, you can also find Festival Park, original site of the 1986 National Garden Festival, and now home to a 10 screen Odeon Cinema, a water fun pool, a dry ski centre, and a colourful canal side marina with restaurant.
The county town of Stafford is a historic County Town with its castle and visitor centre, the Ancient High House the largest timber framed town house in England and one of the finest Tudor buildings in the country, where King Charles I stayed, it's magnificent buildings in the vibrant market square, the Shire Hall art gallery, the Gatehouse theatre, the fantastic restaurant and shopping offer and of course the renowned friendliness of Stafford's population.
The moorings close to the Kinver Locks are a good over night stop where a lovely canal side walk leads you into the pretty village centre. Owned by the National Trust visit Kinver Edge is a unique site where you can see the remains of an Iron Age fort or the restored rock-carved houses The village of Kinver lies to the far south-west of Staffordshire and has borders with Worcestershire, Shropshire and the West Midlands.
Restored by the National Trust Shugborough Hall is the ancestral home of the Earls of Lichfield. Visit the historic house and view the beautiful interiors and the magnificent grounds. It is home to the Staffordshire County Museum where costumed guides recreate life 'below stairs' for the visitors.
This canal has two sets of unusual locks one at Bratch and the other at Botterham. The two locks at Botterham are a staircase flight but are so close together they share a gate. The locks at Bratch are very close together with only a few feet between them. There is an interesting octagonal house where the lock keeper is based and used to be the old toll house.
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