Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Leek View

Ladderedge Country Park is situated to the south-west of the town of Leek, in Staffordshire. The Park is in two parts - the smallest being situated to the East of the A54, encompassing the end of the Leek Branch of the Cauldon Canal - and the larger part being enclosed by the Canal feeder culvert flowing from Rudyard Reservoir and the A54 (Rudyard Kipling was named after the reservoir, the location of his parents courtship).

The feeder culvert is accessible and a path runs much of its length. On one side is the Park and on the other the golf course. The last hole is a beast. It runs between a forest down a steep hill with a slightly sloping green and two bunkers, out of site from the tee. Every course has its challenging hole!

The park is on rolling hills with three defined walks - each marked with a colour coded set of posts. There is a woodland walk, a habitat walk and a view walk. The town of leek can be seen from the top of the hill at the centre of the park. The spires of the churches stand out clearly and the peaks of the Roaches can be seen in the distance. With a good pair of binoculars you can make out the rock formation called the winking man.

Leek is an unusual moorland town with a wealth of antique shops and furniture stores. There are lots of historic buildings, including some fine timber framed structures and many have been restored to a high standard, giving the town a feel of historical significance.

There are some excellent cafe facilities and restaurants and some surprisingly unique shops along with a traditional market on the square.

Back to the Park.... We walked across the hills to the woodland and enjoyed the sound of crows and small perching birds. The wildlife evidence was abundant, but we did not see much of it.

At the edge of the park woodland we did find a field with Balwen sheep grazing. The trees form a natural forest with plants of different species and different ages. There is not much natural forest left in the UK and Staffordshire has quite a lot of it.

All in all, quite a satisfying walk.

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