Churnet Valley: A Site of Special Scientific Interest
Kingsley Bird & Falconry Centre is nestled within the Churnet Valley, a recognised Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The Churnet Valley is in fact the largest SSSI in Staffordshire outside of the Peak District National Park. It has been recognised for its semi-natural and ancient woodlands, supporting a wide variety of species of animals, plants and insects.
There are over 4000 SSSIs in the UK, which are recognised to protect the country’s best ecological habitats. It is important to continue conserving the environment to ensure that wildlife and heritage is preserved for future generations to admire and enjoy.
Along the Nature Trail
When you come and visit Kingsley Bird & Falconry Centre, you can follow a nature trail which takes you through open fields and woodlands, along the River Churnet and towards the Caldon Canal. Along the trail, keep a keen eye for the diversity of wildlife and plants. When following the paths, you may see a variety of trees, including Silver Birch, Oak and Elder, and can walk amongst bracken and fern, where you may spot the odd pheasant or hare or two. In the woodlands, you will see Bluebells and Snowdrops, and numerous birds including Greenfinches, Nuthatches, Great Tits and Thrushes hidden amongst the trees.
Along the trail is also a pond, where you can see newts, toads, frogs and dragonflies. The toads lay eggs every year, which can be seen developing from eggs to tadpoles, through to adults. While walking through the fields and woodland, you may see wild birds of prey. It has been noted that Hobbies, Kites and Buzzards all nest and fly within the local area. Following the trail are various sites for picnics and spotting wildlife and plants – come and see what you can spot!
The Churnet Valley Railway Line
From the centre, you can see the Churnet Valley Railway, a heritage site of railway stretching around 10.5 miles from Leekbrook through to Kinglsey & Froghall. The line is the remaining parts of the North Staffordshire Railway, which was built in the 1840s. The main line was closed for passenger travel in 1968. The Churnet Railway line was started again by rail enthusiasts in 1996, with the help from the local authorities. For tickets, pricing, travel and information, click below.
The River Churnet
The River Churnet flows right through Staffordshire, starting approximately 300m above sea level in the Peak District Uplands. From the source it runs through the Staffordshire moorlands and down towards Leek. As the river flows south, it meets the Caldon Canal, running through Cheddleton. The river and the canal join for a while beyond Cheddleton, parting again around Consallforge. From here, you can visit the Black Lion Pub. Eventually, the river makes its way down to the broad plane of the River Dove.
It is thought that the Caldon Canal offers some of the most picturesque views that can be seen from a canal in Britain. Originally it was a bustling industrial waterway, however, now it is mainly used for recreation.The Caldon runs for a total of 18 miles from Stoke through to Froghall, with a three mile branch to Leek. Interestingly, just passed Cheddleton, the canal joins the River Churnet, before separating back out again. From the canal, you can access wooded areas, further towpaths and several nice pubs, such as The Railway Inn, Froghall.