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Hanbury Walks

Please note: We are currently reviewing our walks publications, please refer to the webpage text for the most current route details we have. If you note any differences when following the route, please let us know by emailing: rightsofway@staffordshire.gov.uk

 

There are three waymarked trails that start adjacent to the Cock Inn at Hanbury. (Please note: Parking on the Cock Inn car park is strictly for patrons only.)

'Hanbury Walks' is the 4th in a series of walks created by Staffordshire County Council with assistance from the Countryside Commission.

 

Locals recall shock, horror and disbelief when one day during World War II a familiar landscape was transformed in the space of seconds. 4,000 tons of high explosive bombs stored underground exploded - to be heard in London and recorded in Geneva as an earthquake. The blast gouged a crater 400 feet deep, covering an area of 12 acres.

 

Now almost unheard of, the Fauld Crater is the scene of the biggest explosion in the United Kingdom. Looking down into the chasm of the crater, it is difficult to imagine the devastation or the landscape prior to destruction. Nature has healed the scars, as larch, silver birch and hawthorn have gradually recolonised an area, to become the habitat of birds, wild flowers and a vast rabbit colony. Apart from the awesome sight which is testimony to the powers of destruction, the crude gypsum cross is a poignant reminder that here lives were also lost in a bid to terminate world-wide atrocities.

Downloadable version

A downloadable version of this information, and maps, is available below. 

Maps and further details of the routes (1 MB) (Please note: Parking on the Cock Inn car park is strictly for patrons only.)

The Red Walk

Length: 1.5 miles
Estimated walk time: 45 minutes
Starting point: Cock Inn, Hanbury 

The Red Walk takes you to the Fauld Crater, scene of the biggest explosion in the United Kingdom.

The Blue Walk

Length: 3.5 miles
Estimated walk time: 1 and a half hours
Starting point: Cock Inn, Hanbury. 

The Blue Walk leads to the heart of Hanbury and Draycott in the Clay.

The Green Walk

Length: 6.5 miles
Estimated walk time: 3 hours
Starting point: Cock Inn, Hanbury 

The Green Walk takes you to the ruins of Tutbury Castle and on to Castle Hayes Park Farm.   

 

Places of Interest

Tutbury Castle

St. Werburgh's Church, Hanbury  

 

Red Walk

Fauld Crater - 1.5. miles - 45mins Clockwise

(Please note: Parking on the Cock Inn car park is strictly for patrons only)

Follow the Red waymarkers across the fields towards Brown's Coppice. Before the track descends, turn right and follow the perimeter fence. At this point, the Green Walk continues to Tutbury. Prepare yourself for the most incredible sight as the view of the crater unfolds to your left!

This little known drama was reported in local newspapers alongside offensives in Europe as World War II was reaching its climax. It is believed that as the pressure for bombs increased, carelessness, inexperience and short cuts resulted in a catastrophic accident.

The area of Hanbury and Fauld is rich in gypsum and alabaster, and it was here that the chambers of exhausted underground mines became a huge store for high explosive bombs. RAF personnel and Italian prisoners of war received and despatched the lethal arsenal with increasing speed and urgency.

There was nothing significant about that fateful November morning. Villagers were going about their every day tasks - thoughts of war being far away in Europe. At 11.00 a.m. on 27th November, 1944, a distant rumble gathered momentum to reach a deafening crescendo culminating in a violent explosion! The sky blackened as huge boulders of earth and rock were disgorged into the surrounding countryside. There was disbelief and disorientation as a whole farm, its occupants and livestock, vanished into a smouldering gaping chasm. Underground munitions personnel were killed, as were factory workers at Fauld. In all, the death toll rose to 70 - the landscape resembled the battle grounds of France rather than a tranquil village in East Staffordshire. 

The path goes approximately half way round the crater. Note the memorial erected by Hanbury Parish Council, dedicated to the seventy lives lost in the explosion. By following the Red waymarkers, the route passes the disused escape shaft, and moves uphill towards Hanbury via the Memorial Hall, rebuilt after the explosion destroyed the original. Turn right and follow the road back to the Cock Inn to complete the walk. 

 

Blue Walk

Draycott in the Clay - 3.5. miles - 1.5 hours Anti-Clockwise

(Please note: Parking on the Cock Inn car park is strictly for patrons only.)

This walk takes you into the heart of Hanbury and beyond to Draycott in the Clay. Unlike the area to the east of Hanbury, little has changed over the centuries, with St. Werburgh's Church high on the scarp overlooking the Valley below.

Walk past the school, now silent and empty, but still a fine mock Tudor symmetrical building, built in 1848 and financed by Queen Victoria. Nearby in Martin's Lane stands the water tower, a prominent landmark, which according to the Tithe map of 1839 is close to the site of a windmill.

Take the track past the Church and follow the directions carefully. Note the views over the Dove Valley and proceed downhill towards Draycott in the Clay, recorded in Domesday as consisting of four villages and four smallholders with one plough. In the distance to the left is the ancient woodland of Needwood Forest.

At Riddings Lane turn left. Alternatively cross the field ahead to the Swan Inn and the remains of the Klondyke Mill. Today, steam engines are stored here, with occasional exhibition weekends. For further details, telephone 01283 820302. Note the dismantled tramway running up to the mill from mines by the airshaft. From here, the gradient was sufficient for loaded wagons to gather enough speed and momentum to reach the mill, unload and return by the same means. Amongst other uses, a high quality fine gypsum was produced for use in the cosmetics industry.

Continue along Riddings Lane, Pipe Hay Lane and past the school. A detour to the right brings you into Draycott village where you can find a Grade II Listed drinking fountain built in 1871. Note the inscription and the notice underneath! The Blue Walk crosses over a stile, into a meadow and across a stream, to re-emerge in Greaves Lane. Greaves Wood on the right is part of the Needwood Forest, and it was here in 1848 that an early Iron Age gold tore was found circa 200BC - now on permanent loan to the British Museum. A torc is an Eastern style neck ring denoting high rank, and it is believed that a minor tribe survived in the Trent area from the Iron Age throughout the Roman period and into the Middle Ages. 

At Foxholes where Greaves Lane forms a right angle, walk straight ahead past Foxholes House, diagonally across a field, and uphill towards Hanbury. A backward glance reveals superb views of the Needwood Forest.

At the brow of the hill you can see the familiar landmarks of Hanbury. Cross over the field and follow the trail back towards the Cock Inn.

 

Green Walk

Tutbury 6.5. miles - 3 hours Clockwise

(Please note: Parking on the Cock Inn car park is strictly for patrons only)

Follow the Red Walk to Brown's Coppice and descend through the wood on the Green trail. Take care as this section can be very muddy and slippery. This area was completely devastated by the explosion when the reservoir serving the plaster works burst the dam walls, cascading six million gallons of water, mud, boulders and trees on to the factory below, where 27 lives were lost. Walk to the crest of the hill, from which vantage point can be seen the Staffordshire Moorlands to the left, Peak Park, and the Derbyshire hills to the right. Ahead lies Scropton with its Norman Church Tower, and below in Fauld and Coton is a scattering of farms and houses, some Elizabethan, contrasting sharply with British Gypsum works, the only visible sign of the vast underground mines extending to approximately 10 square miles. Dominating the view and bisecting the valley meanders the beautiful River Dove, dividing Staffordshire and Derbyshire, and in the distance to the right you catch a glimpse of the ruins of Tutbury Castle on the skyline. Walk downhill, past the old RAF camp and cross the main road. Take great care crossing this busy road.

At Boundary House, follow the signs towards the weir and walk towards Tutbury Castle, which is reached by following the uphill track to the east of the ruins. The walk continues to Owens Bank, crosses the road and continues to Castle Hayes Park Farm.

This area was formerly a medieval Deer Park, one of eight associated with Tutbury Castle, and stocked with deer until the Civil War. Hayes means deer park, and the area was a popular hunting ground during the Stuart era. The next farm en route is Hare Holes, where horses roam freely and the ponds are a haven for wildlife. Turn left after the ponds and walk back up the hill towards the crater. Where the Green and Red routes meet, either go straight back to Hanbury via the Memorial hall or take a look at the crater before re-tracing your steps to the Cock Inn.  

 

Tutbury Castle 

Silhouetted against the skyline are the ruins of Tutbury Castle, whose chequered past began with the Saxons, before passing onto the Duchy of Lancaster in 1265, to whom it still belongs. Through John of Gaunt's gateway travelled Kings, Queens and soldiers seeking glory, refuge and sanctuary. Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned here, and during the Stuart's reign, Tutbury Castle became the headquarters for hunting in the Needwood Forest. The last King to take refuge was Charles I after the battle of Naseby. 

The ruins of Tutbury Castle are open to the elements and nature, and also the public between Easter and October. Wander around the grounds and the castle walks, and pop in for refreshments at the Tea Room. 

Of particular interest in Tutbury is St. Mary's Church, originally a Norman Benedictine friary founded by Henry de Ferrers. The west doorway is a magnificent example of Norman architecture and the stocks remain in the Churchyard.

 

St. Werburgh's Church, Hanbury 

Records show that Newborough and Marchington were originally included in the Parish, which could account for the size of St. Werburgh's Church relative to Hanbury today. After the Fauld explosion the South Aisle window was reconstructed as a memorial, using fragments of 14th century stained glass. Of particular significance is Sir John de Hanbury's monument, believed to be the earliest alabaster tomb in Staffordshire. 

Deep in the annals of Hanbury's past is the story of St. Werhurgh. During the 7th century, Werburgh, daughter of the pagan King Wulfere of Mercia founded nunneries at Trentham, Repton, Weedon and Hanbury - the latter believed to be sited to the east of the Church. 

Werburgh's burial was a turbulent affair. Legend reveals that she was first buried in Trentham, stolen by the people of Hanbury, to be reinterred, exhumed 9 years later when she was said to be "entire and whole", before being reburied in a new shrine at Hanbury. For 150 years, Hanbury was a centre for Christianity. When the Danes invaded in 875AD. Werburgh's body was again removed to Chester for safe keeping, where it was finally laid to rest in the Cathedral. 

Whilst care has been taken to ensure the routes are enjoyable, free from obstructions and easy to follow, conditions vary with the seasons. It is recommended that strong waterproof footwear is worn.

Staffordshire County Council is grateful for the assistance of Mr. G. Nutt of Swadlincote, who has provided information on the Fauld explosion from his original archive material.

Downloadable version

A downloadable version of this information, and maps of the route, is available below. 

Maps and further details of the routes (1 MB) (Please note: Parking on the Cock Inn car park is strictly for patrons only.)

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