Walk 2443 - printer friendly version
Tixall from St Thomas Priory near Stafford Walk
Author - Lou Johnson
Length - 7.0 miles / 11.4 km
Ascent - 300 feet / 91 metres
Grade - easy
Start - OS grid reference SJ950230
Lat 52.804529 + Long -2.0756086
Postcode ST18 0ZH (approx. location only)
This walk explores an area of Staffordshire countryside just to the north of Cannock Chase. The early stages of the walk provide pleasant walking with a close encounter with an Elizabethan gatehouse one of the highlights. The walk then continues along the towpath of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal before crossing meadows alongside the River Sow back to the start.
The start is a lay-by on the east side of the minor road north of St. Thomas Priory Farm (SJ950230). After parking, walk up the lane (north) to the road junction. Turn right here and cross the road and immediately fork left (Grid ref. SJ951233) along Hanyards Lane. This quiet lane gently undulates through the countryside taking you past Lower Hanyards Farm on your right. After passing a small area of woodland on your right the lane climbs up to Upper Hanyards.
Just before reaching the latter, take the signed bridleway on your right (Grid ref. SJ966243). This leads across fields past Tixall Park Pool (now hidden in trees) to reach the small village of Tixall. On the way across the fields you will see Tixall Gatehouse, which will be passed shortly. Reaching the road, turn left, passing the pretty church on your right. Be careful here as there is no proper footpath and traffic can be quite fast. Just round the first bend, Tixall Gatehouse can be seen on your left (Grid ref. SJ979228). For a short period, this fine Elizabethan building was home to Mary Queen of Scots. By keeping on the left hand side of the road you can now walk in safety using the wide grass verge.
Reaching Tixall Farm, with its fine dovecote, cross the road. Go through the gate to the right of the attractive little lodge (Grid ref. SJ984231). Follow the bridle way through fields. Follow the track where it bears right towards the canal. Cross Swivel Bridge and descend on the right to the towpath.
A short, optional extension to the walk can be made by going under Swivel Bridge and following the towpath east to the canal junction (Grid ref. SJ994229) near Great Haywood. This busy spot also has refreshments in season. This short diversion adds an extra kilometre to the route.
The main route continues west from Swivel Bridge along the south bank of the Staffordshire & Worcestershire canal. Continue past the Broad Water and Tixall Lock to reach a road (Grid ref. SJ975216). Go under the bridge and use the steps on the left to reach the road. Cross over the canal and walk north along the lane. After 400 metres, take the signed footpath on your left.
Follow the track across the field and bear to the left by the first gate. The path goes through the wood to emerge again into fields after a short distance. The onward route is easy to follow and waymarks are in place at all the stiles. On your left is the River Sow, one of the tributaries of the Trent, with the hills of Cannock Chase on the horizon.
Reaching the Water Treatment Plant, the only negative aspect of the walk, follow the signed path keeping the plant on your left. Reaching the main access road into the plant, cross over and follow the path, ignoring the stile in the fence on your left, to walk across more meadows. Reaching St. Thomas Priory Farm, go through the gate, across the farmyard to reach a road. Turn right and the lay-by is a short way up the road on your right. Of note is the priory of St. Thomas the Martyr was founded about 1174 and was expanded substantially in the following years. Today there is little evidence except some sections of wall that have become integral parts of the farm buildings.