STAFFORDSHIRE

The Peak District National Park extends into Staffordshire which, despite its association with 'the Potteries', is largely a rural county with some magnificent scenery, and therefore worthy of a lot more attention than it is given.

In the area around The Roaches and the magificent surrounding gritstone moorlands, is the lovely Dane Valley with its mysterious miniature gorge high up on the hillside. Called Lud's Church, this gorge is supposed to be the site of the legendary duel between Sir Gowain and the Green Knight.

West of Dove Dale (which straddles the Staffordshire-Derbyshire county divide), is the limestone Manifold Valley with its gaping Thor's Cave - the most accessible cave in the Peak District. What's more you don't have to pay to go in!

There's the lovely black and white timber-framed Little Moreton Hall near Congleton. Near Stafford the 18th century Shugborough Estate offers some fine gardens to stroll around, and a working corn mill.

Near Uttoxeter is the 12th century Croxden Abbey, and the ruins of Wall Roman site (near Lichfield) outline an old settlement with an on-site museum offering further information.

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