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Fairoak Valley Trail

There are currently 1 comments and 4 photos online for this walk.

Fairoak Valley Trail
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 20 Jun 2015 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Fairoak Valley Trail Walking Guidestar1 Fairoak Valley Trail Walking Guidestar1 Fairoak Valley Trail Walking Guidestar0 Fairoak Valley Trail Walking Guidestar0 Fairoak Valley Trail Walking Guide
Staffordshire, Cannock Chase
Walk Type: Woodland
Fairoak Valley Trail
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot Fairoak Valley Trail Walking Guide
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A 3 mile circular walk through Fairoak Valley within Cannock Chase. The trail takes you through the woodland valley taking in the pools and streams with plenty of wildlife along the way.

The walk has just a few gentle gradients and follows wide stone tracks the whole way round. There are no gates or stiles on route, but you will need to cross some stepping stones. These are very big and flat with only narrow gaps between and so should be easy for most people to cross. The stream that the stepping stones cross is usually very shallow so you would be able to walk through this instead if you are wearing wellingtons. You will be sharing the tracks with cyclists, horse riders and segway riders. There are toilets and a cafe (dog-friendly) within the car park at the start of the walk. Approximate time 1.5 hours.

The walk starts and finishes at the Birches Valley Forest Centre within Cannock Chase Forest, marked with brown tourism signs and close to the town of Rugeley. The car park fee is £4 for the whole day (correct Jun 2015). Approximate post code WS15 2UQ.

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Walk Sections

Start to Boardwalk Obstacle
Start to Boardwalk Obstacle

Start point: 52.7517 lat, -1.9745 long
End point: 52.7485 lat, -1.9718 long

To orientate yourself ready to begin the walk, stand with your back to the vehicle entrance with the cafe on your right. Walk ahead for a few paces and then fork right heading for the Swinnerton Cycle Centre. Keep left at the next junction heading uphill towards another large parking area and, as you reach this, turn right to reach the entrance for the cycle centre on the right. Bear left and you will come to some noticeboards that mark the start of the walking and cycling trails.

This walk follows the Fairoak Trail and is waymarked with green arrows. Turn right at the crossroads and follow the stone track leading you steadily downhill into the valley bottom. Along the way you will pass under one of the tree-top obstacles of the Go Ape course. At the bottom of the slope you will come to a T-junction. Turn right and follow the path as it swings left, passing a boardwalk mountain bike obstacle on the left.

Boardwalk Obstacle to Fishing Lake
Boardwalk Obstacle to Fishing Lake

Start point: 52.7485 lat, -1.9718 long
End point: 52.7436 lat, -1.981 long

Continue ahead on the wide stone track as it meanders through the woodland. Soon, on the left, you will pass the first of many pools that sit within the base of Fairoak Valley. The pools and a brook are all linked by a stream that rises from underground springs at the top of the valley. This valley once contained the Budleighensis River which flowed 280 million years ago when Britain was part of a much greater landmass and nearer to the equator. The colossal river system rose in what is now Northern France and emptied into the area which is now the Irish Sea. The pebbles and rust coloured sand that you see within the valley were once carried by this old river.

Pass between a pair of rocks to reach a junction (known as F1) with another stone track. Take the path ahead (at about 1 o’clock) and soon you will pick up the next green arrow waymarker. Almost immediately afterwards, look for a pretty waterfall sitting under a footbridge over the brook on the left. The route does NOT head this way, but feel free to take a detour to enjoy this idyllic spot.

Continue along the main stone track and further along you will come to a large private fishing pond on the left, with carefully placed benches if you wish to rest here.

Fishing Lake to Southern Path
Fishing Lake to Southern Path

Start point: 52.7436 lat, -1.981 long
End point: 52.7408 lat, -1.9884 long

Continue along the length of the fishing pond (look out for the large fish you will see swimming beneath the surface) and the next lake.

The peaceful environment belies a short-lived, but productive industrial past. The Fairoak Colliery company was formed in 1871, with the rights to explore more than 5,000 acres within Cannock Chase. It was several years until coal was found, but by 1880 the colliery was producing 2,000 tons per week and employed almost 400 people. However, the cost of the unproductive years took its toll and the mining operations ended in 1884.

Continue to the next junction, marked with a fingerpost. Fork left here, signed to Cannock. After about 100 yards, turn left (at the junction known as F2) to join the path which leads you along the southern edge of the pools.

Southern Path to Stepping Stones
Southern Path to Stepping Stones

Start point: 52.7408 lat, -1.9884 long
End point: 52.745 lat, -1.9745 long

Stay on this main stone track which leads you along the southern edge of the pools and brook, taking time to look out for wildlife.

Cannock Chase is predominantly a pine forest, mostly Caucasian Pine, with broadleaf trees adding diversity. Red, muntjac and fallow deer populations are all well established across the area. The wetlands in this part of the forest are home to a number of amphibians including the great crested newt. The waterborne insects provide food for the pipistrelle bats that live in the forest and you may see bat boxes on some of the trees.

The path climbs steadily veering slightly away from the line of the main stream. Towards the end, follow the green arrows which take you left and then left again. This stone track leads you down to some stepping stones within a shallow ford across the stream. Cross these with care, or you may choose to paddle across.

Stepping Stones to End
Stepping Stones to End

Start point: 52.745 lat, -1.9745 long
End point: 52.7519 lat, -1.9746 long

At the far side of the stream you will emerge to the junction, F1, which you passed through earlier. Turn right on the path between two large rocks and from this point you will be retracing your steps back to the car park.

To do this, follow the main track all the way back to the junction just beyond the boardwalk mountain bike obstacle on your right. Turn left, signed for the Forest Centre, and follow the track leading you steadily uphill and out of the valley. You will emerge back to the Birches Valley Forest Centre where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2015 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 responses to "Fairoak Valley Trail"

This is a lovely walk which is situated about 15 mins from the M6. With a dog friendly cafe it can make a great stop off if you are travelling on a long distance journey along the M6 whether you have a dog with you or not. The cafe food was very good with a sandwich bar, jacket potatoes, etc. and plenty of helpful staff. It was quite busy when we visited in June but with plenty of car park spaces and indoor and outdoor eating areas we had a leisurely visit and felt relaxed and ready for the next part of our journey. Although the car park was £4 the food was a good price so preferable to a stop off at a service station for man and beast.

By Richard on 2015-06-21 07:36:56

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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4 images to "Fairoak Valley Trail"

4621_0Richard1434867844 Fairoak Valley Trail Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
If you see Pinocchio as you walk away from the cafe at the start of the walk you are going the right way.
4621_1Richard1434867845 Fairoak Valley Trail Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
This is the start of the trail. The signs are about cycling rather than walking but don't worry you are in the right place.
4621_2Richard1434867845 Fairoak Valley Trail Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Rust covered pebbles carried by the Budleighensis River 280 million years ago.... Research has led me to understand that they are called bunter beds.

4621_0Richard1434869314 Fairoak Valley Trail Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Claire and Richard at the ford and stepping stones. Bobbie could not wait to have her picture taken and was instead running up and down the stream.

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