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Peak District Towns and Villages: Churnet Valley Railway

Villages around Churnet Valley Railway


Cheddleton Flint Mills
Cheddleton Flint Mills
Cheddleton lies 5km south of Leek, where the A520 road crosses the beautiful Churnet valley, which is deep and steep-sided here.

There has been a settlement here since at least Saxon times, since the river was an obvious source of both water and water power. One of the flint mills (which are now a museum) was originally a corn mill and dates from the 14th century.

On the Caldon Canal
On the Caldon Canal
Cheddleton began to expand with the construction of the Caldon Canal, in 1779. This was originally built to bring limestone from the quarry at Cauldon and linked Stoke on Trent (where it joined the Trent and Mersey canal) with Froghall, lower down the Churnet Valley. The canal brought improved communications and hence industry (such as flint-milling) to the area. The construction of the North Staffordshire railway in 1849 brought further industry to the area, which has remained to this day.

The Caldon Canal is now very popular and Cheddleton Station is the main centre for the Churnet Valley Railway, an excellent tourist attraction.

Besides the attractions of the Churnet Valley and Caldon canal, Cheddleton is also very handy for the southern edge of the Peak District National Park, with the Roaches and Staffordshire Moorlands not far away.

Cheddleton Station - Churnet Valley Railway
0 - Cheddleton Station - Churnet Valley Railway
Churnet Valley Railway engine
1 - Churnet Valley Railway engine
Churnet Valley Railway steam engine
2 - Churnet Valley Railway steam engine
Caldon Canal locks at Cheddleton
3 - Caldon Canal locks at Cheddleton
Cheddleton Flint Mill water wheel
4 - Cheddleton Flint Mill water wheel
Cheddleton Flint Mill
5 - Cheddleton Flint Mill


Ipstones is a small farming village, built in the attractive local sandstone, situated just to the north of the Churnet Valley, a few miles south of the National Park boundary. It is a charming place, very handily placed for Alton Towers and for gentle walks around the heavily wooded Churnet Valley. Dovedale and Waterhouses, with the end of the Manifold and Hamps cycle trail, are also within easy reach from here as is the excellent RSPB Coombs nature reserve.


Leek is the principal town of the Staffordshire Moorlands and the most important centre on the south western edge of the Peak District. It stands on a hill in a large bend in the River Churnet and is locally known as 'The Queen of the Moorlands'.

Churchyard cross
Churchyard cross
The town was mentioned in the Domesday Book as 'Lec' but there was certainly a settlement here well before that because the churchyard contains two crosses - one is in Mercian style but is damaged and can be dated to the 10th century while the other is a magnificent 11th century Norse style cross.

The Normans gave this area to the Earls of Chester and Ranulf the 6th earl founded Dieu la Cres abbey here in 1210. Until its dissolution in 1537 the abbey was the major economic and cultural centre of the area. The ruins lie across the Churnet 2km north of the town centre but there is now little to see of what must once have been a fine building.

Market square
Market square
Bonny Prince Charlie passed through in 1745 and Thomas Brindley (the builder of the Bridgewater Canal) built a water mill here in 1750 - this has been restored to working order and is now a fine museum.

In the late 18th and 19th centuries the town changed from a sleepy market town to a centre of silk weaving and several large mills were constructed, one of which can be seen looming above the road to Macclesfield. Leek boomed and the population multiplied during this time but nothing now remains of the silk industry in Leek.

The town still has a lively shopping centre and a market every Wednesday and is a good centre from which to explore the south and west of the Peak.

Leek - Nicholson Institute
0 - Leek - Nicholson Institute
Leek Butter Market
1 - Leek Butter Market
Leek Churchyard - Norse cross
2 - Leek Churchyard - Norse cross
Leek Parish church
3 - Leek Parish church
Leek street
4 - Leek street
Leek - Brindleys Mill
5 - Leek - Brindleys Mill

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