Downs Banks Edges
For much of the walk, wild places on your left contrast with green farmland on the right.
Main car park, grid ref: SJ900365
Start at the main car park. A grassy area is just uphill of the car park. Go into the grassy area and carry on up the gentle rise as the path leads into the trees. The lane will be visible on your right. Carry on until you reach a gate on your right and a National Trust sign. Then turn left up a narrow valley.
The Secret Valley
The narrow valley was christened the Secret Valley because it can not be seen from anywhere else in Downs Banks. The shelter of the hillsides protects it from weather and in high summer it attracts so many insects that a buzzing noise can be heard like the sound of a distant engine.
Follow the path along the valley and climb a short line of wooden steps. Continue through a wooden gate. Leave the woods behind as you walk onto the grassy hill top.
Keep the fence to your right until you see a stone pillar on the hill top to your left. Follow the broad path to this pillar.
On the stone pillar, a bronze plate points towards distant landmarks. The view stretches across three counties.
Turn northwards (follow the line on the viewpoint pointing towards Meir Church). At the edge of the grassland a narrow path heads steeply downhill. Taking care on the steepest sections, follow this path to a broader track at the foot of the slope.
Turn right along the broad track and towards a fence. At the fence turn left and follow the path uphill with the fence to your right.
The Old Packhorse Route
The wide track along the valley floor was a medieval packhorse route between Chester and Derby. Canals, toll roads and railways made travel easier and ancient routes such as this fell out of use.
The path follows the fence uphill to a group of pine trees. Here it curves to the left and continues close to the fence into woodland. When you reach a large wooden gate, pass through and look for a smaller gate on the left.
Walk through the small gate and into a field. Follow the path across the field and over a bridge. Another gate is in front. Go through the gate and turn right.
Walk along the firm, broad path and up the bank (don't worry, it's not as steep as it looks). At the top of the hill turn left and keep the fence to your right.
The path is quite level and straight for some distance. It only dips a little and begins to descend after passing through a small gate. Follow this path until you reach the stream.
The Downs Banks Brook
You crossed the brook a little while ago, but in the short distance you have walked since then it has changed in size and character. This gravelly stream is home to small fish (including young brown trout) and flows into the River Trent next to the Darlaston Inn at Meaford. The marshy woodlands near the stream are home to a rich selection of wild flowers and birds.
At the brook, turn right and follow it Downstream. Walk through the gate and turn left, crossing the stream for the final time over a footbridge. Walk up the lane until you reach the drive to the main car park a short while later.
Turn in to the entrance drive and you will see the car park on your left. Congratulations, you have conquered the Downs Banks Edges.
The Dedication Stone
A stone monument on the side of the track records the day when Downs Banks was presented to the National Trust and records its significance as a war memorial.
Main car park, grid ref: SJ900365
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