Cannock Chase – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

Cannock Chase - Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Staffordshire
Cannock Chase AONB - © Geoff Pick via Wikimedia Commons

Cannock Chase – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is located in Staffordshire in the West Midlands, England. Designated a AONB back in 1958, the AONB is compact in size covering 68 square miles located between Cannock, Lichfield, Stafford and Rugeley. The area is known for its landscape that includes the largest area of lowland heathland in the Midlands, woodland, forest, parkland mixed agriculture and gravel quarrying. The area is important for wildlife, visitors can see wild deer in the area within the AONB. The heathland, woodland and valley wetland habitats within the AONB are protected as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)

The area is popular for day trippers, walkers, cyclists and with a number of routes to explore. Visitors can enjoy the wildlife, the scenic landscape and tranquilly of the countryside.


Cannock Chase AONB is located within the county of Staffordshire in the West Midlands, the area offers visitors a scenic landscape, the natural beauty of the English countryside and a place to enjoy the great outdoors. The area covered under the AONB is located between the cathedral city of Lichfield, Cannock, the county town of Stafford and the market town of Rugeley. Historically the area was once a royal hunting forest; currently the area includes bracken heathland, high sandstone heather, pine plantations and birch woodland.

The area includes a number of valleys, parklands and scenic villages. The area is noted for its heathland and for providing habitats for wildlife including adders, lizards and nightjar. The special qualities relating to the areas landscape, wildlife and cultural heritage and history make the Cannock Chase a special place.

Local accommodation includes a mix of hotels, cosy B & B’s, Guest Houses, Self Catering houses and cottages, there is accommodation available in the nearby towns of Stafford, Cannock, Rugeley and the city of Lichfield that ring around the AONB.

Visitor attractions in the area include Shugborough Estate located on the north eastern edge of Cannock Chase, the impressive historic house, gardens and estate dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Once owned by the Earls of Lichfield, today it is maintained by the National Truest, set in 900 acres the estate includes the imposing mansion house noted for its design and collections including French furniture and porcelain. Visitors can enjoy a guided tour with highlights including the State Dining Room, Red Drawing Room, the Library and the State Bedroom. There is also the Servants' Quarters & County Museum, Georgian Park Farm and Walled Garden to explore offering an educations, historic and fun day out for the whole family.

The Museum of Cannock Chase is located in Hednesford in Staffordshire. The museum tells the storey of Cannock Chase through history, visitors can learn more about the social and domestic history, wildlife of the area, military role, industrial past and famous people from the area. Inside there are a number of exhibitions, displays and artefacts showcasing the history of the area, visitors can look out for the Miners Cottage Gallery, 1940s room, interactive toys and games gallery and quizzes for children. In addition the museum runs a full programme of family events and workshops for children and a number of interesting temporary exhibition.

Birches Valley Forest Centre is located in Rugeley, there are plenty of things to do there ranging from scenic woodland walks, to mountain bike trails, to Go Ape Treetop Adventures to Go Ape Forest Segway, Orienteering, horse riding, fishing BBQs, picnics and camping and caravanning. The centre offers the chance to enjoy a number of outdoor pursuits within the scenic AONB. There is a café on site where visitors can sit back, relax and enjoy the scenic landscape.

Castle Ring is located in the village of Cannock Wood on the southern edge of Cannock Chase, the fort dates back to the iron age and is the highest point of Cannock Chase rising to 800 feet in height, visitors to the area are rewarded with some fine views over the Trent Valley.

Cannock Chase Visitor Centre is located in Hednesford close to Cannock in Staffordshire, the centre provides a useful starting point for visitors with a number of self guides walks, cycling trails starting from here. The site includes picnic sites, adventure playground, BBQ stands and bird watching areas. The on site shop sells local maps, souvenirs and memorabilia.

Visitors can enjoy a trip to the Cannock Chase AONB; there is fine scenery and tranquil countryside to enjoy showcasing many of the finest characteristics of the English countryside.

How to Get There

The Cannock Chase are accessible by both car and public transport.

By Car:

The Birches Valley Forest Centre is located in the AONB, it is located approx 133 miles from London. From London, take the A502, A598, A1 then the M1 motorway until the junction with the M6, then take the M6 until junction 12 and take the A5 exit to Telford. From the A5 turn left on Poplar Lane, then take Church Lane, then Church Road then Parkside Lane and Cocksparrow Lane. At the roundabout take the first exit fro the A34 Stafford Road, at the next roundabout take the third exit to Broadhurst Green Road, continue to Penkridge Bank Road, then turn right on to Birches Valley, the Forest Centre will be further along the road on the left. The approx journey time is 2 hour 45 minutes to 3 hours 45 minutes depending on traffic and time of day.

By Train:

The train station at Stafford has regular services with London Euston via Virgin Trains, from Stafford town centre there are bus services to Rugeley Town Centre via the Arriva Midlands Bus 825 to Rugeley Town Centre; from Rugeley Town Centre take the Vals Classic Coaches number 13 to Shooting Butts, Harleys Corner (on Penkridge Bank); from here it is 10 minutes walk along Penkridge Bank Road and Birches Valley. The journey time is approx 3 hours 15 minutes to 3 hours 45 minutes.

By Bus/Coach:

There are regular buses available from London Victoria Coach station to Stafford, from Stafford town centre take the Arriva Midlands Bus 825; to Rugeley Town Centre; from Rugeley Town Centre take the Vals Classic Coaches number 13 to Shooting Butts, Harleys Corner (on Penkridge Bank); from here it is 10 minutes walk along Penkridge Bank Road and Birches Valley. The journey time is approx 5 hours to 6 hours depending on time of day and traffic. Coach services to Stafford are provided by services are provided by National Express.

Contact Details

Cannock Chase AONB
Stafford Borough Council
Civic Centre
ST16 3AQ

Telephone: +44 (0)1785 619185

Website: Cannock Chase AONB


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For Local Search and Directions see: Cannock Chase (AONB) Map

Tips & Other Considerations

The weather and climate can be unpredictable, there can be elements of all four seasons in one day. Ensure you check the weather forecast before you travel and have the correct clothing and footwear including comfortable walking shoes, fleece, raincoat and umbrella.

Follow travel advice and remain alert, vigilant and aware of your belongings at all times especially your wallet/purse and valuables and ensure they are hidden away from public view. If you have a bag try to use a shoulder bag with a good quality, strong strap, that is put across your shoulder not on your shoulder making it more difficult for anyone to take your bag.

If you are travelling by car to Cannock Chase ensure you are well prepared with maps and Sat Nav to aid your journey, particularly if you are not familiar with the local area and roads. Use the journey planner for door to door directions. Check traffic updates before you travel.

If you are looking for car parking in and around the AONB, ensure you fully understand the rules, regulations & charges for car parks and street parking. The rules & regulations can be complex & confusing if you are unclear, it is wise not to park there.

If you are travelling by public transport, check for service updates prior to beginning your journey for any delays, disruption or cancellations to services that may impact on your journey. Ensure you have the service timetables for the trains, trams, buses and coaches. Remember when the last services are and ensure you make it to the train/bus/coach stops well in time to avoid missing the service.

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