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Cannock’s Boulder and Memorials

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Cannock’s Boulder and Memorials
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 05 Aug 2016 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Cannock’s Boulder and Memorials Walking Guidestar1 Cannock’s Boulder and Memorials Walking Guidestar1 Cannock’s Boulder and Memorials Walking Guidestar1 Cannock’s Boulder and Memorials Walking Guidestar0 Cannock’s Boulder and Memorials Walking Guide
Staffordshire, Rugeley
Walk Type: Woodland
Cannock’s Boulder and Memorials
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot Cannock’s Boulder and Memorials Walking Guide
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A 4 mile circular walk through the magnificent open heath of Cannock Chase in Staffordshire. Cannock Chase was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1958 because of its beautiful landscapes which include natural deciduous woodland, coniferous plantations, open heathland and the remains of early industry. This walking route explores a large section of the open heathland with gorse, heather and bracken stretching as far as the eye can see. From mid-August every year the heath explodes into a sea of purple as the heather comes into flower. Along the way there is also chance to visit the Commonwealth and German memorial cemeteries.

The walk has several steady climbs and descents throughout but there are no steep sections. Most of the paths are wide stone tracks, but there are a couple of very narrow parts and also some unmade paths through woodland that can get very muddy at times. Navigation can be tricky as there are many paths on the heath and very little signage, so the live map on the iFootpath App will be the best way of keeping on track. There are no stiles or gates on route, but you will need to negotiate four stepping stones over a shallow stream (or alternatively paddle through the water!). Belted Galloway cattle are used for conservation grazing on the heath, but this route does not cross any of these grazing areas. Dogs are very welcome in Cannock Chase and the walk is ideal for dogs, but they are not permitted within the cemeteries. Allow 2 hours.

There are many, many car parking areas across Cannock Chase, so care is needed in finding the right one. This walk starts from the free Glacial Boulder car park and although this is not labelled with a name, there is a mounted boulder nearby so you will be sure of your location once you are there. The nearest village is Brocton. The car park is located on Chase Road Brocton, although the nearest post code is for Springslade Lodge on Camp Road, WS12 4PT. From Springslade Lodge, travel north along Camp Road and take the tarmac side road on the right (this is called Chase Road Brocton and, although it is not signed, it is easily recognisable by the grass triangle at the junction and then by the many speed humps). Follow Chase Road around two left-hand bends and then continue a little further until you reach a large stone parking lay-by on your left and a fingerpost marking a crossroads with a bridleway. This is the Glacial Boulder car park and if you look to your right (down the path marked by the fingerpost) you will see the boulder in question. Well done – first navigation challenge achieved!

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Walk Sections

Start to Woodland Belt
Start to Woodland Belt

Start point: 52.7609 lat, -2.0317 long
End point: 52.7487 lat, -2.0319 long

From the parking lay-by, cross over the access road and follow the narrow stone path (signed as a bridleway) which leads you to a small clearing which contains the mounted Glacial Boulder that gives the car park its name. The Glacial Boulder on Cannock Chase is a well-known local landmark, but very out of place here as there is no granite in the surrounding land. It originated from Scotland and travelled slowly south on a glacier during the last Ice Age. It was discovered locally and mounted here in the 1950s. The concrete pedestal, which is now decorated with pebbles, dates from the First World War when this area was a large military camp. More about that later…

Continue straight ahead and follow the narrow stone path which leads you through a grass gully and out to reach a T-junction with a wide stone track. Take a moment to enjoy the views at this point, which really give you an idea of the scale of this area of heath. Turn right along this track and a few paces along you will come to the first fork, take the left-hand branch (the main stone track). When you come to the next fork, take the right-hand branch.

At the next major junction (a staggered crossroads), go straight ahead. Now simply continue on this track (which very steadily swings right), following it for some distance and keeping ahead at all the crossroads. About one mile into your journey you will come to a minor crossroads with a belt of woodland ahead.

Woodland Belt to Stone Car Park
Woodland Belt to Stone Car Park

Start point: 52.7487 lat, -2.0319 long
End point: 52.7405 lat, -2.0263 long

Take the stone path straight ahead leading you into this woodland belt. A few paces in you will come to a junction of multiple paths. Ignore the first two paths on your right, instead take the main track which bears slightly left to continue through the woodland. Further along, this path runs fairly close to the road on your right so take particular care with children and dogs.

At the next crossroads, you will see Springslade Lodge (a bike hire, camping and tea room facility) across to your right. Do NOT take the path towards this, instead keep straight ahead on the woodland path. At the junction with the tarmac access track, go straight ahead once again, keeping with the same woodland path.

Keep straight ahead at the next crossroads of stone paths, now emerging from the dense woodland belt and continuing through a more open section of heath which is dotted with silver birch trees. Just before you reach the next clump of woodland ahead, you will come to a T-junction. Turn right and then immediately left and follow this grass path passing through the trees and emerging into a stone car park.

Stone Car Park to German Military Cemetery
Stone Car Park to German Military Cemetery

Start point: 52.7405 lat, -2.0263 long
End point: 52.7391 lat, -2.0222 long

Continue straight ahead, passing a low wooden vehicle barrier to join another stretch of stone track. You will emerge to a T-junction with a tarmac access lane. Should you wish to visit the Commonwealth War Cemetery, turn right along this lane and then come back to this point when you have finished. Otherwise turn left along the lane and follow it as it leads you past the German Military Cemetery on your left. Both cemeteries are open to the public (although no dogs are allowed) should you wish to visit.

This is a good place to pause and learn some of the history of the area and to understand why Cannock Chase is home to these two large memorial cemeteries…

During World War I there was a large military camp at Cannock Chase which became the base for the New Zealand Rifle Brigade. There was also a prisoner-of-war hospital with 1,000 beds. Both the camp and the hospital used the burial ground which is today known as the Commonwealth War Cemetery. It contains 97 Commonwealth burials of World War I, most of them New Zealanders, and 286 German burials.

Subsequently, on 16 October 1959, an agreement was made by the governments of the United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Germany concerning the future care of the graves of German nationals who lost their lives in the UK during the two World Wars. The agreement provided for the transfer to a central cemetery in the UK of all graves which were not already situated in cemeteries maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. German servicemen and civilian internees of both wars were moved from scattered burial grounds across the UK to a single new cemetery established at Cannock Chase, now called the German Military Cemetery. It contains almost 5,000 German and Austrian graves. In the centre of the Hall of Honour, resting on a large block of stone, is a bronze sculpture of a fallen warrior, the work of the eminent German sculptor, Professor Hans Wimmer.

German Military Cemetery to Stepping Stones
German Military Cemetery to Stepping Stones

Start point: 52.7391 lat, -2.0222 long
End point: 52.7579 lat, -2.0178 long

Continue ahead along the access road. Beyond the cemetery boundary, keep ahead on the stone path. In the fenced enclosure to your right, you may get a glimpse of the Belted Galloway cattle that are used for conservation grazing to help manage the heathland. Belted Galloways are particularly distinctive, having generally black shaggy coats with a wide white ring all the way around their middle (like a belt).

As you come to a woodland copse ahead, ignore the uphill path through the kissing gate ahead, instead bear left on the stone track which leads you steadily downhill with the woodland on your right. At the bottom of the slope, stay with the track as it swings right (still following the woodland edge on your right). When you come to a crossroads with another track, keep straight ahead, and follow the stone track with woodland to your right and open heath to your left.

Running just down to your left is a small stream, but this is often obscured by vegetation so don’t worry if you can’t see it. Ignore the first path off to the left (across a small concrete footbridge), instead keep ahead. Further along, just as the woodland on your right ends, you will come to a fork. Take the left-hand branch (ignoring the right-hand branch which climbs alongside the trees) and follow this descending steadily. About 400 metres later, you will come to a junction of paths at a large stone clearing. Turn left here, down the short slope, to reach the ford within the stream which has a handy set of low stepping stones.

Stepping Stones to End
Stepping Stones to End

Start point: 52.7579 lat, -2.0178 long
End point: 52.7612 lat, -2.0316 long

Cross the stepping stones over Sher Brook, walk up the stone path for a few paces and you will come to a junction of four paths. Ignore the two side paths and take the left-hand of the two paths ahead (ignoring the right-hand of the two which climbs more steeply up the hill). Follow this stone track which climbs gently and swings steadily right for some distance (ignoring any side paths).

As you reach the top of the rise (now with great views across to your right once again) simply keep ahead on the same stone track. A few paces later you will reach a staggered T-junction. Bear right and you may realise that you have now re-joined the track from the start of the outward leg. When you come to a junction with a grass triangle on your left, turn left (signed as the Staffordshire Way) and follow the narrow stone path through the grass gully and up to reach a trig point. Bear right here and you will come to the clearing which holds the Glacial Boulder. Turn left for just a few paces, crossing the access road, to reach the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


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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3 images to "Cannock’s Boulder and Memorials"

6416_0Richard1470423332 Cannock’s Boulder and Memorials Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
The outward journey.
6416_1Richard1470423332 Cannock’s Boulder and Memorials Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
The route past the German military cemetery.
6416_2Richard1470423332 Cannock’s Boulder and Memorials Walking Guide Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
The concrete bridge.

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