This section of the Staffordshire Link follows the Staffordshire Way
from Uttoxeter to Rocester in the morning, then the Limestone Way from
Rocester to Ellastone in the afternoon. Much of the walk runs close to
the river Dove and is a mix of pastures, meadows and fieldside paths
plus the odd clump of woodland. The walk begins at Uttoxeter railway
station and ends at Ellastone, which is on a bus route. Buses also call
at Rocester, giving you the opportunity to break the walk into two half
day walks should you prefer.
Unfortunately there are several potential routefinding problems. I will
address them within the narrative as thoroughly as I can.
Map: OS 1:25000 Explorer 259 (Derby)
||7.35 miles / 11.8 km
||426 ft / 130 m
||368 ft / 112 m
||2 hrs 20 mins
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Entering the meadow section
Cross a stile and head off across the river meadow
towards a group of trees. Depending on the time of year there may, or
may not, be an obvious route on the ground. The Dove has made a wide
meander to the west here but we're heading for the northeast corner of
this meander, by a group of trees on a slope (first image below).
The route beside the Dove
Once you reach the trees there is ample scope for
confusion once again, and the waymarking could be better. It's not
obvious from the surroundings which way to go from here. The map
suggests that you keep hard by the riverbank below the slope but this
is incorrect, and anyway the vegetation is too dense to allow progress.
Follow a green lane just to the right of the trees (second image
above). You will see a stile over to your right with a footpath marker
(first image below) - ignore this! It's a side path heading northeast
to the top of Eaton Hill and beyond. Stay on the grassy bank
immediately to the right of a line of trees (second image below). Now
you're OK again.
Point of confusion; path along bank; woodside path
At the far end of this pasture you emerge beside a
cropped field (thid image above). Stay
on the edge of this field, with the wood to your left, and follow the
field edge all the way along, curving to the right to reach a motor
road by the entrance to Doveridge sports club.
Fieldside path; entrance to Doveridge sports club;
Doveridge sports club is a clay pigeon shooting
centre. Clay pigeons, for those who don't know, are ceramic discs not
unlike frisbees that are propelled into the air so that shotgun
enthisiasts can pop away at moving targets. It's a hell of a lot more
civilised than firing at real birds. Even so, remember that there will
be people here wielding loaded firearms and there will be live
ammunition flying about. Be careful.
Through and beyond the sports club
The driveway takes you down to the cubhouse and car park, which you
leave to your left. Now there's another confusing, badly waymarked bit.
It appears that the correct route is to doglef left and right past the
clubhouse to keep a second building to your right. Not far ahead you
leave the environs of the sports ground to follow a farm track.
Once you're past Eaton Hall Farm at the north end of
the sports club you're in a wide open world of fields and pastures.
This is the flood plain of the Dove. The river itself is some way over
to your left, while the wooded slopes of Eaton Hill lay a few hundred
metres to the right. The track runs generally northwards, mainly
alongside hedges. About a kilometre north of the sports club you turn
right and approach Eaton Dovedale farm, hard underneath the slopes of
The Staffordshire Way north of Doveridge
The farm road turns left in front of the farm and
continues northwards. You approach the loality of Sedsall. A cottage,
empty and boarded up when I came this way in 2004, sits within a fork
in the path (second image below); go to the left here.
The route at Sedsall
Beyond Sedsall the Staffordshire Way runs close to
another woodland plantation on the slopes of the hill immediately to
the right. The river converges from the left once again and the Way
squeezes through a pleasant neck of woodland to approach the grounds of
The approach to Abbotsholme
This is a pleasnt section of river meadows and trees,
and the Dove flows by to the left. Rocester is only a kiometre away to
the northwest, and beyond it you should be catching glimpses of the
Weaver Hills - the first outliers of the Pennines.
Riverside scenes, Abbotsholme
The section along which the path is squeezed between
the river and the wood seems to run for rather longer than the map
would suggest. Eventually you cross a side stream by a plank footbridge
and come out into the grounds of Abbotsholme school proper. The
immadiate prospect is a vista of green, with rugby pitches laying to
your right and the river to the left. The river itself is particularly
Riverside scenes, Abbotsholme School
Once again there is scope for going wrong and the
relative lack of waymarking is at fault. There is a natural tendency to
heep hard by the riverbank and the map suggests that this is correct.
Unfortunately not. Look out for the point at which the river bends
quite sharply to the left, just by the most manicured part of the
school playing fields.
Abbotsholme School playing fields
If you see the scenes in the two picture above you're
heading the wrong way. However, there's an excellent lunch stop here -
behind the hedge to your left is a lovely little riverside glade
complete with bench seating (first image below). It gives access to a
path alongside the riverbanl as it curves to the left. You could
actually head along this way if you wish because this path follows the
riverbank around three sides of a pasture west of the school playing
fields. It looks more obvious on the map than it does on the ground.
Your correct route, however, is to the right of the rugby pitches
(third image below). This will bring you out at the far corner of the
Riverside glade; riverside path (incorrect route); correct
route alongside rugby pitch
With one confusing section just behind you, you run
straight into another one. Your correct route is alongside the
riverbank to your right. The path to the left looks correct but is in
fact the other end of the riverbank path that left from the glade a few
minutes behind. Head to the right across a stile and keep following the
right of way by the riverbank as it bends to the left again.
Approaching the north end of the school playing field; the
The correct route to the right alongside the riverbank
Now the route is straightforward again, if a bit less
pleasing to the eye. The path runs by the riverbank alongside a couple
of fields, crossing a side stream by a rather neat little bridge
(middle picture below). Soon after you see another road bridge across
the Dove just up ahead. This is your way into Rocester.
The riverbank path approaching Rocester
Riverbridge east of Rocester
Turn left omto the bridge and follow the road for the
short distance into the little town of Rocester. It's quite a sleepy
little place, with a handful of shops and a pub or two on the main
street. The "-cester" suffix tells you that Rocester is of Roman origin
so it has a long history. To the west of the town is a big industrial
park, which you will only see if you make use of the bus back to
Uttoxeter; it's the headquarters of the J C Bamford company,
manufacturers of mechanical diggers and other earth moving machinery.
The grounds are extensive and feature two sizeable lakes, features of
the river Churnet which branched away from the Dove west of Sedsall. Should you wish to break the journey here the 32A bus
(Hanley - Uttoxeter) and the 409 bus (Ashbourne - Ellastone -
Uttoxeter) both call at Rocester. The 32A runs an hourly service.
We leave the Staffordshire Way here at Rocester to follow the Limestone
Way to Ellastone. Walk north from the crossroads at the centre of town
for about 400 metres, and at a bend in the road take a turning to the
right into a residential road. The houses along here look very recent.
Near the end of the road find a footpath (third picture above) off to
Pastures north of Rocester, and the JCB site
The footpath runs through a series of pastures north
of the town. The scenery here is nothing special. If you look back to
your left you will see the huge warehouse buildings of the JCB
Stay more or less on the same line and find the
stiles giving you access to each succeeding pasture. You cross the
B5080 road and continue in the same direction, passing close to the
prominent white house of Barrowhills which you leave to your left.
Beyond Barrowhills the path continues across fields for another 400
metres or so to reach te B5080 a second time just beside Dalesgap
(which, once again, you leave to your left). Cross the road to pick up
the continuation of the path through yet another series of pastures,
heading downhill towards the Dove.
Pastures beyond Dalesgap
Approaching the Dove
This is a pleasant section and the path is better
defined than it was back around Barrowhills and Dalesgap. If you're
looking for a spot for an afternoon refreshment break take it at a
copse of trees about 500 metres past Dalesgap, for once you get down to
the riverbank there's not really anywhere suitable to sit down. The
path runs past a locality called Riverside Doveleys. which is off to
your left. The river appears to your right, screened off for much of
the initial stretch by a ribbon of trees and vegetation.
The route at Riverside Doveleys
From here on just walk on by the riverbank, or as
near to it as the path will allow depending on the amount of
vegetation. The river and path gradually curve around to the right and
you end up heading northeast, accompanied by a set of power lines. The
scenery improves and you arrive at an area of lush meadow grass with
the river hard to your right. A handsome stone bridge appears up ahead.
The path by the Dove, approaching Ellastone
The bridge carries the B5033 road across the Dove into Lower Ellastone,
which is immediately to the left. The riverbank by the bridge is a
lovely spot. Go up to the road and turn left, heading into the village.
About 250 metres along from the bridge is a farm
driveway to the right (third picture above). That's the continuation of
the Limestone Way and is the beginning of tomorrow's walk. We're done
for today, so walk onwards to the road junction and turn right for
Ellastone proper. The Ashbourne - Rocester - Uttoxeter bus runs through
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