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A site of ecological & historical importance in the heart of Staffordshire


Our partners Forestry England are asking all visitors to stay safe by staying local, please only visit Dimmingsdale if you live in the local villages at the moment.

Dimmingsdale is truly perfect for walkers and ramblers looking to enjoy the Churnet Valley, Staffordshire Moorlands & Staffordshire Peak District.

Dimmingsdale is truly one of Staffordshire’s hidden gems. This enchanting and beautiful valley is a haven for walkers, nature lovers and those seeking tranquillity and spectacular scenery.

Forming part of the Churnet Valley in the Staffordshire Moorlands it is located between Alton and Oakamoor and is managed by Forestry Commission and Staffordshire County Council.

Lakes, streams and rivers combine with a mixture of broadleaf trees and spectacular Scots Pines and huge sandstone rocky outcrops to create spectacular scenery and an amazing haven for wildlife, which is beautiful at anytime of the year.

Its beauty and tranquillity has been recognised by regional and national media – The Sunday Times stated Dimmingsdale was one of the most beautiful places to walk in winter, Midlands’s television stated it as one of the best places to view Autumnal colours and it regularly features in regional press as one of Staffordshire’s hidden gems. Affectionately known as “Little Switzerland” and “Fairy Glen” it was also described by a priest as”the closest place to heaven”.

Walks Routes, Maps, Leaflets & Guides:

Whether you’re following the full 92 mile Staffordshire Way from Mow Cop to Kinver or after a short stroll around Dimmingsdale, take a look at this great selection of walk routes!

  • The Countryside Code

  • Helen’s Walks Around Dimmingsdale

  • Dimmingsdale Map

  • Staffordshire Way Guide

  • Explore Furnace Forest

  • Churnet Valley Geotrail

Dimmingsdale: A Site of Special Scientific Interest

Dimmingsdale is a haven for wildlife. Its lakes, streams and rivers combine with a mix of broadleaf and spectacular Scots pines to provide the perfect habitat.

On the lakes you will see all different types of wild fowl –heron, kingfisher, moorhen, Canadian Geese; mallards to name but a few.

A little harder to see are the residents actually in the lakes – Crayfish, frogs, toads, newts, trout and a host of other insect and other invertebrates.

Spotted and Green Woodpecker can be heard echoing through the valley, buzzards soar above it and pied flycatchers, redstarts and the willow warbler are also residents of this tranquil place. It is also home to Tawny and Little Owls and many more common woodland birds.

The trees also provide shelter and protection for a host of mammals – badgers, foxes, hares, rabbits, grey squirrels, hedgehogs, stoats, and weasels. There have even been sightings of Muntjac deer and pine martins in the area!

The valley is also a perfect habitat for woodland flowers. In spring, the slopes are a carpet of bluebells, wood anemones and wood sorrel. In the summer, ferns, foxgloves and blackberries abound.

Earl’s Drive

Earl’s Drive is the main route through Dimmingsdale. Built by the Earl of Shrewsbury to allow his horse and carriage to travel through his private paradise, This gravelled route gives stunning views through the centre of the valley, overlooking lakes, streams and woodland. It’s the best way to get the full Dimmingsdale experience, with the majority of all other routes through the valley joining to this magnificent drive.

Churnet Valley Greenway

This historical railway line now provides a great route for ramblers, cyclists, horse riders and the occasional llama walker to access Oakamoor, Alton, Dimmingsdale & Denstone. Keep an eye out for wildlife in the old Churnet Canal that runs alongside the route as well as historical stations and railway bridges!

The Ranger

At the top of the valley is one of Staffordshire most important remaining ancient hill pastures, now classed as a site of Special Scientific Interest. Covered with heather, tough grasses and bilberry and interspersed with yellow tormentil and heath bedstraw. Special wetland plants, such as yellow bog asphodel and sphagnum mosses nestle in hollows beside the path.

This beautiful pasture attracts a plethora of insects – grasshoppers, hoverflies, bees, brown and large skipper butterflies are just a few of the pasture’s residents. The area simply shimmers in summer with insect life.
*When visiting this extremely delicate area of the valley, please keep dogs on a lead, stick to the paths and try not to disturb any wildlife. Bicycle, horse riding and picnics are not permitted in The Ranger. Please note, this section of the valley may close at any time for conservation works by Forestry England & Natural England.

The Chained Oak

Within the valley is a large, extremely old Oak tree smothered with chains. Legend has it that in the 1830’s a beggar woman asked the Earl of Shrewsbury for some money. He refused and so she put a curse on him. For every branch that fell off this magnificent Oak, a member of the Earls family would die. Later a branch did fall off the tree and member of the Earls family died. Immediately the Earl of Shrewsbury had chains wrapped around the branches to stop any more branches falling off.

*When visiting this local legend, please treat the ancient oak with respect to protect and preserve it for future generations. Disrespectful behaviour will cause rangers to ask individuals to leave the site.

The Forest Code

To help us protect Dimmingsdale for future generations, we ask that all visitors stick to the forest code:

  • Stick to the paths and trails.
  • Guard against all risks of fire.
  • Protect and respect wildlife, plants and trees.
  • Keep dogs under control.
  • Take your litter home.
  • Make no unnecessary noise.
  • Take only memories away.

Thank You.

*Please note, BBQs, camping, overnight parking, campfires and smoking are not permitted in Dimmingsdale Valley, smoking is only allowed in the car parks.

Dimmingsdale offers a variety of activities for lovers of the great outdoors:

Walking & Rambling:

Dimmingsdale is a walker’s paradise. There are a myriad of walks throughout the valley from short easy strolls to challenging all day walks. The majority of walks are maintained by Forestry Commission. In addition, there are a couple of paths in Dimmingsdale which are maintained by our local Council – The Staffordshire Way, which is a 92 mile walk through some of the finest countryside in the Midlands passes through Dimmingsdale. The Churnet Valley Greenway, an old Railway Track is another Council maintained path which is a flat, easy track which follows the meandering river Churnet.


Cycling is also a popular pastime in and around Dimmingsdale. The Churnet Valley Greenway runs from Oakamoor to Denstone passing through Dimmingsdale and Alton and offers a scenic, relaxing bike ride.

Mountain biking is also permitted on limited tracks in the valley for those seeking more of a challenge, however it is wise to check with Forestry England to ascertain permissive routes. Rangers will remove anyone using illegally constructed mountain biking trails.

Cycle racks are conveniently positioned outside the Ramblers Retreat for those looking for a midway break!

Guide to good cycling

  • Look after yourself. Ensure your bike is safe to ride, wear a helmet, use lights after dark and take warm and waterproof clothing.
  • Look after others. Only cycle where you have a right of way, footpaths are not for bikes, give way to walkers and horse riders, use a bell or greeting to let them know you are there, and go slowly near farm animals and dogs.
  • Look after the Churnet Valley. Don’t erode paths by riding on very wet ground, avoid sharp braking and always follow the Countryside Code

Horse Riding:

Horse riding is permitted on the bridleways throughout Dimmingsdale. Again, a handy hitching rail is positioned outside the Ramblers Retreat for those seeking mid-ride refreshment.

Good guide to riding

  • Keep to the path
  • Do not jump hedgerows or fallen timber
  • Shut gates behind you and ride slowly past sheep or cattle
  • Only ride on bridleways and where you have permission, footpaths are not meant for horses
  • Ride with consideration towards other riders, walkers and cyclists. Slow down where visibility is restricted and ride cautiously on country roads


Although not an authorised Forestry England activity, many choose to ascend the erratic boulders of Dimmingsdale. If you choose to visit Dimmingsdale for bouldering, please follow the guide to good bouldering.

Guide to good climbing

  • Check any climbing restrictions before you go
  • Always check your equipment
  • Leave the crag in a better state than you found it, don’t leave any rubbish
  • Respect the unique geology of the Churnet Valley
  • Report any injured wildlife, or suspicious behaviour around nest sites

Organising events in Dimmingsdale?

As Dimmingsdale is part of the English Forest Estate, events require authorisation and specialist insurance provided by Forestry England, part of the Forestry Commission. If you are organising a commercial, charity or personal event in Dimmingsdale, please email the local team with details of your request.

Car Park Hours:

Dimmingsdale car parks are open daily 7am-7pm, vehicles left in the car parks after this time will need to be released by rangers where a call out fee will be charged. Please note- car park hours change seasonally, please contact us for current hours.

Contact the Forestry England Ranger Team