How to spend 48 hours in Staffordshire
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Whatever your interest, Staffordshire has some amazing things to do. Staffordshire central position made it the ideal location for a vitally important place of “pilgrimage” in the form of the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, between Lichfield and Burton. Described as “the UK’s year-round centre of remembrance”, the 150-acre Arboretum is home to more than 300 memorials to the armed forces, emergency services, civilian organisations and national charities as well as more than 30,000 trees which make up a living tribute. Not far from the Arboretum, in Whittington near Lichfield, is the Staffordshire Regiment Museum. Telling the story of the Regiment from its formation in 1705 to its present day incarnation as part of the four-battalion Mercian Regiment, the museum has around 11,000 items on show, including an excellent collection of armoured vehicles.
A lovely place for a stroll is the headquarters of Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, based at the Wolseley Centre near Rugeley. Here you’ll find 26 acres of beautiful grounds to explore, packed with wildlife and birds. You might even be lucky enough to spot a kingfisher along the riverbanks, or maybe even the resident terrapin in one of the three lakes and ponds.
Alton Towers is one of the most popular theme parks in the country. Located in the Staffordshire Moorlands near the village of Alton, the park combines major white-knuckle rollercoasters like Nemesis and Oblivion with the calmer charms of pre-school favourite CBeebies Land. Perhaps less well-known but still as thrilling is Drayton Manor in Drayton Bassett, near Tamworth. It has its share of nail-biting rides, including Shockwave, Europe’s first stand-up rollercoaster, but the big draw is Thomas Land, a hugely popular multi-million pound attraction for fans of the lovable tank engine.
Croxall Rd, Burton-on-Trent DE13 7AR
The National Memorial Arboretum is the UK’s year-round centre of Remembrance; a spiritually uplifting place which honours the fallen, recognises service and sacrifice, and fosters pride in the country. It is a living and lasting memorial. Since planting began in 1997, the Arboretum has been a special place honouring those who have served, and continue to serve, the nation in many different ways. The staff and volunteers look forward to welcoming you. It’s not a cemetery. It’s a place of life, represented by the 30,000 trees planted here, where older and younger generations alike can wander and wonder. Covering 150 acres, the Arboretum has something for everyone. For some it’s a wonderful place to stroll and enjoy the trees; for others it’s a peaceful and beautiful place to remember loved ones, particularly those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Visit website
Stone Rd, Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 8JG
The Trentham Estate is one of the country’s top visitor destinations. Comprising of 725 acres, it is the last remnants of one of England’s great garden estates. The estate attracts in the region of 3 million visitors a year, due to its wide appeal and diverse activities to engage every generation. Peace and quiet, fun and action awaits you at Trentham Gardens. Enjoy the splendour of the Italian Garden, with its contemporary design by Tom Stuart-Smith, grand Italianate parterres, fountains, trellis walkway and David Austin Rose border. Meander the Floral Labyrinth and Rivers of Grass by pre-eminent Dutch designer Piet Oudolf – a distinctive fresh, floral prairie and vast naturalistic meadow. Be inspired by the show gardens including award-winning gardens from RHS Chelsea and RHS Tatton Flower Show. Take a woodland walk round around the Capability Brown-designed mile-long lake, and see if you can spot the enchanting fairies and giant dandelion sculptures. Get active in the adventure playground, get lost in the hide and speak maze. In spring and summer you can steam along the lakeside astride the miniature train, set sail on the electric catamaran or get naked from the knees down and tantalise your toes on the UK’s first barefoot walk. Visit website
Postern Rd, Tatenhill, Burton-on-Trent DE13 9SJ
National Forest Adventure Farm offers farm animals galore – including exotic furry friends like reindeer, alpacas and chinchillas – as well as a huge array of indoor and outdoor play equipment. Kids can enjoy a go kart track, assault course, crazy golf, tractor rides and a bumpy barrel stampede ride towed by a quad bike. Don’t miss out the musical maze, a wooden labyrinth with instruments hidden inside to find and play. Visit website
Grange Rd, Biddulph, Stoke-on-Trent ST8 7SD
There’s something new to see around every corner at Biddulph Grange Garden, from an Egyptian court to the memorable China Garden with its pagoda, bridges and gilded water buffalo. See if you can find the giant stone frog at this masterpiece of Victorian horticultural design. Visit website
Trentham Estate, Stone Rd, Tittensor, Stoke-on-Trent ST12 9HR
Walk amongst monkeys at Trentham Monkey Forest and enjoy a unique experience. Enter the home of 140 free-roaming Barbary macaques, living in an ancient Staffordshire woodland. Wander along the ¾-mile visitor path and watch the monkeys’ antics unfold in front of you. Listen to hourly feedings talks, visit The Jungle Shop and have a bite to eat in The Banana Café. There are also multiple play areas for your little monkeys! Monkey Forest is the perfect day out for all the family to enjoy. See website for seasonal opening times, dates and prices. Visit website
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Staffordshire cultural attractions
Image credits: ©Lewis Roberts/Unsplash; National Forest Adventure Farm; National Memorial Arboretum; Sue Burton PhotographyLtd/Shutterstock.com; Trentham Estate; Trentham Monkey Forest