This blog was written by Claire Sandys, Community Rail Officer for the North Staffs Community Rail Partnership.

Rails to Trails is a new collection of walks from nine local railway stations, eight of which are in Staffordshire. 

They are 1 to 6 miles long and all but one are circular, finishing at the same station you started at. 

Why not try leaving the car at home and let the train take the strain?

Here is a summary of five of our Staffordshire walks:

Kidsgrove: Bathpool Country Park

This is a 3 mile walk to and around Bathpool Park and back. 

A great opportunity to watch ducks, geese, swans and other water birds in their natural habitat. 

Why not also go for a woodland walk or try the outdoor gym or children’s play area whilst your there?

The station is situated very close to the Trent and Mersey Canal and the Harecastle Tunnel is a short stroll away. 

Did you know that there are two separate Harecastle canal tunnels, built almost 50 years apart? 

Only the more recent one, Thomas Telford’s tunnel of the 1820s, is now in operation. 

There is no towpath in the tunnel so the horses had to be led along Boathorse Road and over the hill.  Meanwhile the boats were “legged” through by men lying on their backs on the boat roofs. 

Nowadays engines do the work and it takes about 20 to 30 minutes to make the journey.

Image: Claire Sandys

Longton: The Twenty Bottle Kilns

Longton is the southernmost of Stoke-on-Trent’s six towns and its second busiest shopping location. 

It also boasts the greatest number of the city’s iconic bottle kilns from the days of coal fired pottery manufacture. 

In the heyday of the Potteries there were over 3000 bottle kilns in the six towns. Now 47 remain and 20 of them can be found in Longton.  All can be seen from this route.

The 1.7mile route leads you through the town centre with its shops, cafes and Victorian market (open Wed, Fri, Sat). 

Then on to the popular, award winning Gladstone Pottery Museum where you can learn about the fascinating history of the pottery industry and have a go at making your own pot or bone china flower. 

As you return to the station you’ll pass the impressive Sutherland Works and Aynsley China Works and, finally, the newly refurbished Phoenix Works. 

But can you spot all 20 bottle kilns?

Image: Karen Quinn

Uttoxeter: Historic Market Town

This is a shorter route of only 1.2miles through the historic centre of Uttoxeter.

Highlights include Redfern’s Cottage – Museum of Uttoxeter Life, the beautiful Georgian houses of Balance Street and Dr Johnson’s Memorial in Market Place. 

Published in 1755, Dr Johnson’s “A Dictionary of the English Language” has been acclaimed as “one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship”. 

His father used to run a bookstall in Uttoxeter Market. One day, whilst a teenager, Johnson was asked to man the stall when his father was ill.  But he famously refused to do so. 

Many years later he revisited the site of the stall and stood out in the rain to atone for his earlier pride.

Also in Market Place is the building that was Henry Bamford’s shop.  The Bamfords now run the famous engineering plant, JCB, which is still based locally.

The town boasts many independent shops and cafes and there is a twice weekly outdoor market on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Stone: Canal and Market Town

Stone is a beautiful town, well worth a walk to discover its canal, its historic warehouses and the shops of its pedestrianised high street. 

Highlights are the beautiful Grade 2 station building, now a community centre, and Joules Brewery’s Crown Wharf.

The town has an annual Autumn Food and Drink Festival and a monthly Farmers’ Market.

The route is just 1.5miles long, following mostly quiet road-side pavements and the towpath of the Trent and Mersey Canal, very popular with the narrow boat fraternity.

[Canal and railway bridges are unfortunately not suitable for wheelchair users.]

Image: Claire Sandys

Penkridge: Historic Village and Canal

Penkridge is our southernmost station.  The route is 1.7miles long, taking you through the very attractive old Market Street with its quaint shops and offices. 

The route also includes part of the green and peaceful Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal.

But the highlight, in my opinion, is the Penkridge Heritage Centre located in The Old Gaol and Stocks.  Make sure you don’t get locked in! 

Adjacent to that is the oldest building in the village (allegedly), aptly named The Old Cottage.

If you’re visiting on a Wednesday or Saturday why not pop into Penkridge Market – a huge affair with about one hundred stalls.

Image: Claire Sandys

The Rails to Trails booklet - available now!

The remaining walks in the Rails to Trails booklet are from Alsager (including a separate dementia friendly walk), Stoke-on-Trent, Blythe Bridge and Tutbury and Hatton.

The booklets will be available to pick up from some of our stations later in the year.  Or you can request one to be sent to you by emailing:

Alternatively, the booklet can be downloaded from Look out for our guided walks later in the year!

Please check train times before you set out on

Some stations are not fully accessible; please check before you travel.

North Staffordshire Community Rail Partnership is grateful to London Northwestern Railway and Cross Country Trains for their financial support of the Rails to Trails project.