Family fun and woodland walks at Cannock Chase Forest – Staffordshire

Family fun and woodland walks at Cannock Chase Forest – Staffordshire

Cannock Chase Forest in Staffordshire is the perfect place to get out for some family fun and enjoy the great outdoors. There are plenty of activity trails and woodland walks to suit all ages; adventure play areas, biking trails and other activities to excite the whole family.

You can spend as little as an hour or a full day exploring and will probably still want to come back for more.

Cannock Chase Forest Walks - Family Fun

How to get to Cannock Chase Forest

Cannock Chase Forest is located near Rugeley in Staffordshire. The best way to get there is by car, the nearest train station is approximately 2 miles away in Rugeley.
Before you visit, it’s useful to know that there are two separate visitor centres, both of which have their own car parking.

The distance between the two is just under 2 miles and whilst both have plenty of trails, children’s play area, café and toilets, it’s worthwhile checking out each one and what they have to offer. Many of the websites don’t distinguish between the two when providing information on the activities Cannock Chase Forest has to offer.

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Here’s a quick summary of the two, or click on this link to find out more.

Birches Valley Forest Centre

Probably the more popular visitor centre because it has direct access to Go Ape, Forest Segway Experience, Cycle Centre and some fun activity trails for kids like the Gruffalo and Zog trails.

The postcode for Birches Valley Forest Centre is WS15 2UQ.

Cannock Chase Visitor Centre (Marquis Drive)

From here, there is access to plenty of woodland walks for all ages but also large open grassed areas where you can relax, picnic or make use of the BBQ stands dotted around.

The kids will also love the adventure playground.

You can also have a look around an original Great War Hut used by soldiers training on Cannock Chase during the First World War.

The postcode for Cannock Chase Visitor Centre (Marquis Drive) is WS12 4PW

Parking at Cannock Chase Forest

Unaware of the two separate visitor centres, we followed the Sat Nav and came across the Cannock Chase Visitor Centre (Marquis Drive) first.

There was plenty of parking spaces and parking charges are reasonable at £1 for up to 3 hours or £2 for 3 hours plus.

From reading other people’s reviews, I believe that Birches Valley Forest Centre car parking charges are more expensive. Some visitors park on the road for free but the parking charge is a small amount and goes towards the upkeep of the forest.

Finding our bearings at Cannock Chase Forest

As soon as you walk from the car park to the visitor centre, there are signs showing different bike routes and self-guided trails. It is a little unclear which path to take, which direction to go and the maps near the visitor centre don’t seem to show all of the trails.

Cannock Chase Forest Walks - Visitor Centre

This is probably the most useful map and is on display but not until you’ve walked away from the visitor centre.

Cannock Chase Forest Walks - Trail Map

We stumbled upon the Fairoak Trail

Luckily we quickly came across the Fairoak Trail, a nice easy 2.5-mile circular that our youngest (2 ½ years old) was just about able to manage (with the help of a couple of piggy backs).

Cannock Chase Forest Walks - Fairoak Trail

We walked down the path in between the lush green forest and followed the stream along until we came to the Fairoak Pools.

We stopped here at one of the picnic tables and ate our packed lunches whilst admiring the natural beauty around us.

The girls (and the dog) continued to enjoy themselves running around – some of the best things to do with kids are free!

After our quick food and refreshment stop, we continued further and then took a turn in between two of the pools to come back up the other side. If we had continued walking, we would have reached Birches Valley Forest Centre but we decided to head back to let them play in the adventure playground.

Explore the forest but don’t get lost

There are lots of different paths to take and we decided to take a little detour on our way back. The forest all around us looked so inviting so we decided to go and explore.

This was so much fun, weaving in and out of the trees, ducking under and jumping over branches. I thought I was keeping track of my bearings but started to get a little concerned that we’d lost our way.

Cannock Chase Forest Walks - Woodland Walks

It felt like we were going deeper and deeper into the forest and for a split second, I imagined us frantically running around trying to find our way back out as the daylight started to disappear.

Before panic set in, we suddenly found an opening back onto one of the paths. We soon figured out where we were and headed back up the path towards where we started.

Cannock Chase Forest Walks - Paths

Watch out for mountain bikers!

The great thing about Cannock Chase Forest is that there are so many paths, trails, routes and woodland areas to explore.

The whole area is shared by families, hikers, mountain bikers, dog walkers and all. Be mindful of this because although bikers and walkers tend to stick to separate paths, we had to keep an eye on the dog and kids when bikers cut across paths at pretty high speeds.

Cannock Chase Forest Walks - Biking Trails

Experience life in an old WW1 military camp hut

Completely free to enter, this original hut is now used as an interpretation and education centre for the Great War camps.

There is lots of interesting information on the role of the military camp and its inhabitants as well as lots of war memorabilia. The beds and living area are set up as they were so you really get a feel for how the soldiers used to live during the Great War.

I also really liked that fact that the children are encouraged to look, touch and try things on which naturally made them ask questions – and the very knowledgeable staff are more than happy to answer.

Cannock Chase Forest Walks - Military Info
Cannock Chase Forest Walks - War Hut Living Area
Cannock Chase Forest Walks - War Memorabilia

Let the kids have fun in the adventure playground

If the kids still have energy left to burn off, let them have fun in the adventure playground and go and grab yourself a hot drink and cake from the café.

Cannock Chase Forest Walks - Adventure Playground

Final thoughts...

We spent a good 3 hours at Cannock Chase Forest and only ventured around one of the many woodland walks and trails that it has to offer.

It’s a great place for the whole family with a range of walks, biking trails and other activities to suit all members of the family.

I can’t wait to go back for some more family fun and explore the Gruffalo and Zog activity trails.

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