Needwood circular walk
This nine-mile walk showcases the strong rural and historic character of Needwood Forest, with ancient woodland, old parklands, rich farmland and estate forestry blended together, with views of the small hamlets and villages nestled in the landscape.
In the mid-thirteenth century, Needwood Forest was mostly under the control of the Ferrers family of Tutbury Castle, however, the Ferrers family later forfeited their control over Needwood to the Crown and the forest subsequently passed to the Duchy of Lancaster.
In the time of Robin Hood, the Needwood area would have been rich in wildlife, including populations of wolf and wild boar. While the return of wolves to Needwood is unlikely, the creation of The National Forest has encouraged the return of many other species, see how many you can spot on your walk.
- Dogs Allowed
- Picnic Area
Brakenhurst Road, Hoar Cross, Staffordshire, DE13 8RF Newborough Staffordshire
DirectionsStart at: Jacksons Bank car park, Brakenhurst Road, Hoar Cross, Staffordshire, DE13 8RF
OS Grid Ref: SK139232
what3words: /// applauded.newly.speaker
Points of Interest
This 35ha woodland is part of the Duchy of Lancaster’s Needwood Estate. Defined as replanted ancient woodland, it still retains some of its semi-natural flora, such as bluebell, wood anemone, wild garlic, early purple orchid, herb Paris and wood spurge. The crop is even aged as the woodland was replanted after the Second World War, when a large amount of timber was extracted to provide props for trenches. Tree species include commercially planted Scots pine, hybrid black poplar, oak and cherry. Hazel, holly and hawthorn shrubs form the understorey.
Six Noon Columns are dotted around the Forest. Slots cut into these 3 metre high oak sculptures, designed by internationally renowned artist David Nash, allow rays of sunshine through at true noon each day. Find the Needwood Noon Column just behind the car park at Jacksons Bank wood.
The church at Newchurch was built in 1809 as a result of the Enclosures Act of 1801 bringing in a new population to the area. The king, George III, gave 10 acres for the site of the church, the parsonage and churchyard, and 150 acres for the support of the minister (known as Glebe land). The building was recently de-sanctified by the Bishop of Lichfield and is now privately owned, although the graveyard can be visited.
This was planted by the Duchy of Lancaster Estate in 1996. Covering 6ha, it is planted predominantly with oak and ash and includes two restored field ponds. The name is thought to come from “Cross Planes” referring to the adjoining airfield. The airfield was a satellite airfield of RAF Lichfield during the Second World War (others were at Fradley and Church Broughton). It is now used as a private airfield.
This historic site contains old parkland with some very old, veteran trees. Byrkley Lodge, now demolished, was one of the few dwellings in the ancient Needwood Forest, before the Enclosures Act in 1801. It was the country house of Michael Arthur Bass, son of Michael Thomas Bass, the founder of Bass Brewery. Michael Arthur Bass became the first Lord Burton in 1886. The name “byrkley” may come from a clearing “ley” in the birch “byrk” trees.
This new woodland takes its name from Henry Bolingbroke, who, in the 14th Century, was heir to the Duchy of Lancaster. However, Henry was banished from England after incurring the displeasure of King Richard II. Following the death of his father, John O’Gaunt, in 1399, Henry returned to claim his inheritance and began a military campaign against the King. Richard II was in Ireland with many of his supporters and, as a result, Henry was able to gain enough power to have himself declared king and have Richard arrested. Henry IV was crowned on 13 October 1399 and reigned until 1413.
One of the largest of the villages in the Needwood Forest, there is a vibrant village community and there has been a regular well dressing celebration since 1978. All Saints Church stands at the centre on the site of previous church and chapel buildings, the earliest dating back to the early 14th century.
Newborough has a village feature which was carved from a yew tree blown over in the great storm of 1987. Look out for the ‘Staffordshire knot’ carved into the base.