We’ve teamed up with Stone Ramblers to bring you a series of walks in and around the town for the spring and summer.
We’re kicking off with a beautiful walk that takes in the canal and Stone Common Plot, and there are three variations covering 1½, two and three miles. There will be a different walk featured on A Little Bit of Stone each month
Trent & Mersey Canal – Common Plot
Distance: 1½, two or three miles
Time: Allow two hours for the three-mile walk
Refreshments: Numerous places in Stone. You will pass the Star Inn at the beginning and end of the walk, and the Pheasant just as you re-enter Stone
Terrain: The going is level throughout walk 1, with one short uphill section on both walks 2 and 3
The directions for the longest walk (three miles) are given first, with variations for the two shorter walks
ONE: Westbridge Park occupies the site of the former Westbridge House, the headquarters of the Trent and Mersey Canal Company. The section of the canal through Stone was opened in 1771. Proceed to the canal towpath behind the tennis courts.
TWO: Turn left under the road bridge to the Star Lock adjacent to the picturesque Star Inn. Immediately past the inn note the short aqueduct that takes the canal over the innocuous looking Scotch Brook which here has just emerged from its culverted section to the east before dropping down to the River Trent.
THREE: Go under bridge number 94 to Yard Lock. Beyond the lock on the right notice an interesting group of buildings containing a total of four dry docks. On the left is the former workhouse, until recently in use as Trent Hospital and now private residences. After 200 yards you will be opposite the former Ale Store of Joules Brewery, which opened in 1881.
FOUR: Staying on the towpath, go through the pedestrian tunnel of bridge number 95 (Newcastle Road Lock). Note the roof level roller at the exit of the tunnel to ease the towrope as boats entered the lock above and the grooves cut by the ropes in the wall on the right.
FIVE: Under the next bridge, a railway bridge, notice the cantilevered footbridge at Lime Kiln Lock. This has a gap in the middle to allow the towrope to pass through.
For Walk 1 (1½ miles) proceed to paragraph 15
SIX: Continue north along the canal noting on the left a modern replica of an original milestone, ’48 miles from Shardlow’, which was presented by the Canal Society of New Jersey in the United States, and installed in 1982. Continue under bridge number 96.
For Walk 2 (2 miles) proceed to Paragraph 17
SEVEN: Continue along the canal, under new bridge, 96A, passing new housing and the pair of locks Meaford Bottom and Meaford House. Leave the canal by crossing bridge 97 and continue straight on along the road, leaving the canal behind you.
EIGHT: In 200 yards, turn left on to a waymarked footpath and proceed down the side of the concrete drive. The drive is soon crossed by a stream under an arch of a viaduct carrying the Colwich to Stoke-on-Trent railway line. The footpath goes under the adjacent arch and immediately becomes a grassy fenced path entered by a small swing gate to the right. Skirting the renovated buildings of Meaford Old Hall Farm, continue along a track to a stile. Entering the field the path follows the right-hand boundary and exits over a stile into a single track lane.
NINE: Turn right and in 200 yards take a path sharp right up into woodland where the road turns sharply to the left. Almost immediately at the top of some steps take the left-hand path. At the first fork keep to the well defined path to the left and at the second fork keep right, continuing uphill, ignoring the path to the right.
TEN: At a T-junction of paths carry straight on through a kissing gate into part of the Common Plot. Continue downhill to a metal gate in railings using the steeple of St John’s Church seen in the distance as direction indicator.
ELEVEN: Exit into Old Road and turning right pass the Pheasant Inn and note the interesting tiling above the doors of the houses in Gladstone Terrace on the left. Turn right into Albert Street and then left into the small but impeccably maintained Stonefield Park. Proceed to the bottom gate by the bowling green.
TWELVE: Leave the park into Field Terrace and, turning left, pass through Stonefield Square and bear right. Crossing the busy Longton Road, enter Granville Terrace with St John’s United Reformed Church on the corner. Note the variety and elegance of the houses in the terrace. Where the road ends turn right onto footbridge number 112 over the railway and descend by a footpath to Mill Street, keeping left when the brick wall is reached.
THIRTEEN: Turn right, with the supermarket on your left, and cross Christchurch Way by means of the pedestrian crossing. Immediately ahead we see the Crown Hotel in the High Street. Turn left down the High Street passing Cumberland House, now a doctor’s surgery, where the Duke of Cumberland rested in anticipation of engaging the Pretender’s forces coming from the north during the Jacobite rebellion of 1745.
FOURTEEN: Turn right at the traffic lights into Stafford Street with the culverted Scotch Brook hidden below your feet as you continue via the pedestrian crossing to the opposite side of the road and return to Westbridge Park, now on your left over the canal bridge.
This ends Walk 3
FIFTEEN: After paragraph 5 cross the cantilevered footbridge and follow a narrow path towards Stone Station, the stone finials of which can be seen with, in the background, the tower of the former Bent’s Brewery. After crossing the railway line (with care) we emerge into Station Approach with the Station to the left. The building is a good example of the Jacobean architecture of the North Staffordshire Railway whose line to Norton Bridge (1848) we have just crossed. The electrified line to the right of the station is the line from Stoke on Trent to Colwich where it joins the main west coast line from Stafford to London.
SIXTEEN: Turn right and cross the line by the level crossing at the signal box and turn right along Victor Street and into Field Terrace. Turn left into Stonefield Park through the gate by the bowling green. There are seats from which the floral displays and beds may be appreciated in summer. Retrace your steps to the gate.
Resume Walk 3 at paragraph 12
SEVENTEEN: After paragraph 6 turn back left off the towpath and cross the bridge, 96, continuing along Whitebridge Lane. Cross the railway by the footbridge and continuing uphill cross Mount Road and enter the Common Plot through a gate.
EIGHTEEN: Follow the path uphill, over a stile at the highest point and, turning half right follow the path downhill to a metal gate in railings at the corner of the field.
Resume Walk 3 at paragraph 11