Dunstall Hall




3.5 miles (5.7kms)

344ft (105m)

About the walk

The centrepiece of this walk is Dunstall Hall, dating from the 1800s but replacing a much earlier building that once stood on the site of nearby Old Hall farm. Still privately owned, the hall and 1,000-acre (405ha) estate have passed through many different pairs of hands over the centuries, including those of Sir Richard Arkwright, son of the famous inventor of the world’s first water-powered cotton spinning mill. After his father died he sold most of the family’s mills, invested in landed property like Dunstall, and made his own personal fortune, so much so that on his death in 1842 he left over £3 million in his will (£150 million in today’s money).

New woodland cover

In 2001 the owners of Dunstall Estate, Sir Stanley and Lady Hilda Clarke, began a tree-planting scheme as part of the wider National Forest programme. In the last five years alone more than 180,000 trees have been planted and a series of new permissive paths has been established for visitors to enjoy. You will walk through the young woodland early on in the walk after leaving Barton-under-Needwood; and also part of the newly created Douglas Wood beyond Old Hall farm. The National Forest covers over 200sq miles (518sq km) of Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire and has increased tree cover by 12 per cent in just 20 years. The plan is ultimately to plant 30 million trees and cover a third of the forest area. However, alongside the new planting, the National Forest also incorporates the little that remains of the ancient woodland of Staffordshire’s Needwood Forest (which once spread to Barton – hence its name). There are walks galore and events throughout the year for all the family right across the National Forest, see

Not so silly wicket

Near Dunstall Hall you pass the home of Dunstall Cricket Club and one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in the county. The club was founded in the 1890s and, despite its rural setting, boasts four senior sides and some real talent. It plays in the county’s premier cricket league, and past club professionals have included former England legends Derek Randall and Devon Malcolm. If a match is under way, why not call in and enjoy some quintessential English village sport?

Walk directions

From the car park turn left along Crowberry Lane, past the Methodist Church. Go through a gate onto a wide farm track, then over a stile and ahead to an information panel. Go through the gate and straight ahead through the field to reach a solitary post.

Veer half left to go through a gate into woodland. Stay on the main path, ignoring permissive routes off left and right, then via another gate walk out across a wide field. Bear slightly left to reach Smith Hills Cottages.

Go through two gates and across a lane for a track into a field. Where it meets a surfaced lane go straight on. With the entrance to Old Hall on your left go over a stile ahead and through a meadow, aiming for the gate in the far right corner. Continue on a path to reach a road.

Cross the road carefully for a stile opposite. Walk along the right edge of the field for 440yds (402m) until you get to a waymarker post. Turn right and walk down across the field, through a belt of trees and up across another field towards farm buildings. Aim for the metal gate between large sheds and go through this to cross the farmyard. Go through a gate for a double stile onto a lane.

Turn right and follow the lane past Sprinks Barn Farm as it becomes a surfaced drive. At the crossroads at the bottom of the hill, with the church on your right, go straight over, past the cricket ground and as far as a bend.

Turn right over a stile for a fenced path past an overgrown old pool. Continue through woodland to the gate at the far end. Go ahead through the field to the solitary post, then veer slightly left on the route back to the start.

Additional information

Grassy field paths, dirt tracks and lanes, several stiles

Woods, parkland and fields

Keep on lead around livestock

OS Explorer 245 The National Forest

Public car park by village hall, Barton-under-Needwood

By car park

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About the area

Discover Staffordshire

It was Staffordshire that bore the brunt of the largest non-nuclear explosion of World War II, when a munitions dump at RAF Fauld went up in 1944. It was also the county’s regiment that once boasted within its ranks the most decorated NCO of World War I, in the person of William Coltman (1891-1974). Going back a little further, George Handel penned his world-famous masterpiece The Messiah on Staffordshire soil. During another chapter of Staffordshire history, the county was home to the first canals and the first factory in Britain, and it had front-row seats for the drama surrounding one of the most notorious murder trials of the 19th century, that of Doctor William Palmer.

In outline, Staffordshire looks not unlike the profile of a man giving Leicestershire a big kiss. The man’s forehead is arguably the best region for hillwalking, as it comprises a significant chunk of the Peak District. This area is characterised by lofty moors, deep dales and tremendous views of both. Further south are the six sprawling towns that make up Stoke-on-Trent, which historically have had such an impact on Staffordshire’s fortunes, not to mention its culture and countryside. This is pottery country, formerly at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution and the driving force behind a network of canals that still criss-cross the county.

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