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Around the Old Furnace

The Old Furnace and The Annexe are set deep down in the Churnet Valley, at the head of the pretty valley of Dimmingsdale, with its leafy pools and wooded hillsides. There is rolling countryside all around.


The Immediate Area

The Annexe is an ideal base for a short break whether you are walking, birdwatching, cycling, or simply sightseeing. A Staffordshire Moorlands walk (leaflets available) takes you directly from The Old Furnace into Dimmingsdale, a valley of extreme beauty with tree-shaded pools, woodland walks and rocky outcrops. Within one mile are Hawksmoor National Trust Nature Reserve and Cotton Dell, described by David Bellamy as one of the finest valleys of its type that he had ever seen. The pretty stone village of Alton, with its viewpoint of Toothill Rock, the panoramic Weaver Hills and the delightful Caldon Canal, are all within walking distance.

Within one mile is Thormbury Hall, winners of many awards for their superb curries. It is one of the best in the Midlands. Also worth a visit are the Grosvenor Restaurant at Hales Hall and the Queens at Freehay.

The Churnet Valley Railway (a steam heritage line) is only three miles away. The Roaches, Dovedale and The Manifold Valley are 20 minutes' drive, and Leek, famous for its independent and antique shops and William Morris associations, is the same distance.

The area surrounding The Annexe is extremely rich is flora and fauna, being a biodiversity enhancement area. We have unimproved wildflower meadows, heather moorland, rocky outcrops and ancient woodland. Badgers and bats patrol the area at night whilst nuthatches, goldfinches, woodpeckers and siskins come down to the bird feeders. 32 different varieties of birds have been seen from The Annexe in just one day. Our woodland plants and trees are extremely diverse, with much of the area being an SSSI. The entire Churnet Valley in 2011 won a Heritage Lottery Award for maintaining our wonderful diversity.

The area is a cultural paradise. There are more well dressings in our area than everywhere else in the world put together; beautiful churches, arts festivals and local customs abound; and the Staffordshire Hoard is on permanent display at The Potteries Museum in the ceramics capital of the world.



Close By

In the vicinity are some of the best gardens in England, including:
• Biddulph Grange (National Trust)
• Trentham Gardens (largest replanting/restoration programme in the UK)
• National Memorial Arboretum

The area is a walker's paradise. Within half a mile of your front door are:
• The Staffordshire Way Long Distance Path (92 miles)
• The Sabrina Way long distance bridleway
• The Weaver Walk (15 miles)
• The Churnet Valley Geotrail (18 miles)
• A Staffordshire Moorlands Walk

There are also many open access areas and literally dozens of footpaths within the immediate vicinity.



Within easy driving distance of The Old Furnace are:
• The Peak District National Park
• Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
• Little Moreton Hall, Sudbury Hall and Shugborough (National Trust)
• Two Heritage Steam Railways
• Off-road Cycle Tracks
• Coombes Valley RSPB Reserve
• Stoke on Trent with its museums and pottery shops (including Emma Bridgewater, Burleigh, Wedgwood and others)
• Cheadle with its famous Catholic Church (Pugin’s Gem), and other towns including Ashbourne, Leek and Buxton