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Walk 2499 - printer friendly version

Aqualate Mere & Forton Walk

Author - Lou Johnson

Length - 8.0 miles / 13 km

Ascent - 330 feet / 100 metres

Grade - easy/mod

Start - OS grid reference SJ792229
Lat 52.803249 + Long -2.3099689
Postcode ST20 0PN (approx. location only)

This walk explores the rural countryside of Staffordshire adjoining the Shropshire boundary. Using paths, quiet lanes, tracks and canalside paths the route provides an intimate look at this part of Staffordshire. Often dismissed as boring, the County does have plenty of rich farmland and its villages, although not the most attractive in the country, are nevertheless worthy of a visit. This walk includes one of Staffordshire's largest heronries, a section of old Roman road, a lost canal and a fine country hall.

The walk starts at Norbury Junction (Grid ref. SJ792229) where limited parking is available on the road opposite the pub car park. From here gain the towpath and walk south along the canal (i.e. with the canal on your left). You pass the pub and cross a bridge over what used to be the branch canal to Wappenshall Junction where it met the Telford to Shrewsbury canal. By the late 1930s this section was almost disused and in 1944 it was finally abandoned. You will see later in the walk how quickly time has healed the landscape. Stay on the towpath of the Shropshire Union and cross a lane. Shortly afterwards take the path descending right down to a lane running parallel to the canal. Turn left along the lane to reach a driveway on the right of the road (Grid ref. SJ796219). This is a bridleway with the sign hidden in the left hand verge. Turn right down this track and almost immediately right again to continue south with the hedge on your left.

This track leads you to a road by Shelmore House (Grid ref. SJ795213). Go straight across the lane and continue down the field. Some careful navigation is required here. Ignore the footpath heading northwest and instead cross the small brick bridge over a minor stream and walk southwest keeping the field boundary to your right. This leads you without too much further problems to what is marked as the Guild of Monks (Grid ref. SJ787207). A former farm this now seems to be a private residence. Go straight through the farm and follow the main access track. Reaching another track, go left and almost immediately right onto a tarmac lane. Follow this for a short way, ignoring the footpath on your left, to take the track on your left a short way further down the lane.

Entering pleasant woodland, you pass a Nature Reserve sign to reach a bridleway. If you wish to visit the bird-watching hide then go straight ahead and follow the signs. By visiting the hide you do get to see Aqualate Mere. If not visiting the hide turn right and follow the path through beautiful woodland passing some interesting reed beds typical of this type of mere. The way ahead is straight forward although the OS 25000 map does appear to be very out of date especially in regard to field boundaries and some navigational skill is required. The path as far as Thistleyfield Covert (Grid ref. SJ771210) is fine and easy to follow with two boards provided by the Nature Reserve showing you where you are. From this point onward you need to follow your nose as there is no obvious path as you cross a large meadow. The most obvious landmark is the fishing pool (Grid ref. SJ766212) and providing you keep this on your right you should have no further problems.

After passing the pool turn left and keeping the field boundary on your right locate two metal gates. Go through these and follow the feint trace of a path to cross the old canal. Now covered in shrubs and grass, there is still some evidence of where the canal actually was. Just over the old canal veer left and walk across the field to reach a lane by Forton Church. The church is build from local sandstone and next door is Forton Hall, a very nice house dating from the 17th century. After have explored the church and admired the Hall return across the field but keep ahead and follow the well waymarked route through to a lane at Sutton (Grid ref. SJ767220). Turn right down the lane, and keep right at the next junction. Where the lane bends right, you are on the route of a former Roman road. Despite the historic credentials of the lane, you take the footpath on the left across fields to reach Cliff Lane.

Walk 2499 Route Map

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