Staffordshire Moorlands, Staffordshire
The countryside consists of extensive moorlands made up of rolling hills and crags. The highest point is 1,656 feet above sea level at The Roaches , a series of gritstone outcrops. The Roaches are famous for once being home to several wallabies that would normally be found in the warmer climes of Australia! Sadly, there have been no recent sightings of them.
Apart from the fantastic countryside the area boasts a wealth of visitor attractions . Not least of these is the world famous adventure park at Alton Towers , which claims to be Britain’s favourite theme park.
For those not wishing to push their mind and body to the extremes of some of Alton Tower’s more extreme rides there are many more sedate and relaxing attractions. These include the three important steam railways in the region. The Rudyard Lake Steam Railway uses narrow gauge tracks to give steam train trips in the Staffordshire Peak District just north of Leek. The trains from the Foxfield Railway steam through the stunning scenery of North Staffordshire. The line even offers you the chance to drive your own train, as does the rival Churnet Valley Railway .
If steam doesn’t do it for you and you prefer the tranquility of nature, then an obvious choice would be the South Peak Estate. This includes the beautiful Ilam Park , in the Manifold Valley, which includes Ilam Hall and remnants of its gardens. Ilam park also boasts an ancient semi-natural woodland designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and open parkland with well preserved 'ridge and furrow' which is a relic from medieval agriculture. The South Peak Estate runs along both banks of the River Manifold offering spectacular views towards Dovedale. There is a Youth Hostel, visitor centre, tea-room and shop there as well as a small formal garden on site of an old Italian garden.
The Blackbrook Zoological Park in Winkhill, just south of Leek is a big favourite with children. Open all year around, except Christmas, the park has a wealth of animals to admire and activities for both kids and adults. The park claims to have the largest and certainly one of the most important collections of birds in the UK, including many rare or threatened species. The penguins there are especially popular and, if you arrive at the correct time, you can even help feed them. Lemurs and pelicans can also be fed by visitors, again at specific times.
More British Natural features?