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Staffordshire is a County of real contrasts; from the stunning Peak District National Park, National Forest and Cannock Chase to bustling market towns scattered throughout the region. It is world famous for its 250 year pottery and brewing industries and also home to two of Britains favourite theme parks - Alton Towers and Drayton Manor Park.
The three main rivers running through the County are the Blyth, Churnet and Trent in addition to a significant network of canals. The area around Leek is in the upland area known as Staffordshire Moorlands and is a great area for rock climbing, sailing and walking.
Since the 17 Century the area around Stoke on Trent has been manufacturing pottery. The six towns of Burslem, Fenton, Hanley, Longton, Stoke and Tunstall are collectively known as 'The Potteries'. The most famous examples of fine porcelain and pottery made here are Copeland, Minton, Spode and Wedgwood. Most of the bottle shaped brick ovens have been taken down although some remain at the Etruria Industrial Museum.
The County town of Stafford has a history pre-dating 1066 and Stafford Castle is well worth a visit as is Stafford's oldest house - The Ancient High House - built 1642. This property played an important role when it hosted King Charles I and his nephew Prince Rupert at the start of the Civil War. It later became a prison for Royalist Officers.
The attractive town of Stone, with its narrow streets and canal side walkways, reveals a great mix of retail and catering outlets which have helped Stone gain a repution as a 'goumet town' with restaurants to suit all tastes.
Burton upon Trent is the famous home of brewing due to the distinctive quality of the local water and geological formations. Also in this area is the unspoilt market town of Uttoxeter which is known for its National Hunt Racecourse.
Abbots Bromley is nearby and contains fine examples of the half- timbered houses typival of Staffordhire. In September each year the townsfolk follow the Horn Dance - a medieval performance by twelve dancers carrying reindeer antlers on their shoulders!
Lichfield is known for the Cathedral's three spires known as the 'ladies of the vale' and is also the birthplace of Samuel Johnson - a literary giant who toiled alone for seven years before publishing 'A Dictionary of the English Language' in 1755 which is among the most influential dictionaries in the history of the English language.
Cannock Chase is an Area of Outstanding Beauty with hills, heath and abundant wildlife and is very popular with walkers and cyclists.
In England and Wales, there is a huge variety of scenery and landscapes, from dramatic coasts to remote mountains. Those landscapes considered most valuable are designated as National Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs). These landscapes are protected by law and managed to maintain their special character for now and the future.
Cannock Chase was designated as an AONB in 1958 because of its beautiful landscape, its wildlife and its history. Cannock Chase is the largest surviving area of lowland heathland in the Midlands. Lowland heath is an internationally scarce and threatened wildlife habitat. The AONB also has extensive areas of forest and woodland along with areas of designed parkland, sand and gravel quarrying and mixed agriculture.
Cannock Chase and its associated animal and plant communities are part of an historic landscape dating back thousands of years. Wild deer still roam the Chase and are probably descended from the original herd introduced in Norman times for hunting purposes.
The European Diploma of Protected Areas has been awarded for the 45th year to the Peak District National Park, one of only five areas in the UK to hold the accolade.