Sunday’s walk was the Satnall Hills, high ground on the edge of Cannock Chase close to the Shugborough Estate (once home to Lord Lichfield)
The car park is beneath the quarry face. There is still a large working quarry on the Chase but these smaller sites once provided sand and gravel. I think this was Nicholls’ quarry.
Climbing through the trees we emerged in heathland marked with signs to keep dogs on leads to protect nesting birds. Beyond that was the forest below – oak and horse chestnut and beech and sycamore and newer commercial species. Hard to imagine this land in the 1930s without trees.
However, as we can see from this Staffs Past Track photo, this is how it once was. Nearby was Brocton Hall Golf Club before it moved to its current home the other side of the village. This has always been a popular part of the Chase due to its close proximity to Stafford. People would travel to Milford Common for days out. There are tremendous views through the clearings in the trees across the Trent Valley towards the Staffordshire Moorlands and Derbyshire.
The hills were known as Satnall by Robert Plot, writing in the 17th century. Tim Cockin, writing in his informative and thorough The Staffordshire Encyclopaedia, suggests these hills were once topped with Scots pines planted by Thomas Anson to commemorate his brother’s world circumnavigation in ‘Centurion’ in 1740-44. Satnall Hill is highest at 475 feet or around 145 metres.
On the high point there’s a covered reservoir, pictured below. It can take some finding as it’s surrounded by trees and gorse.
Far underneath the edge of these hills lies the 710m-long Shugborough tunnel. High-speed trains pass through here at around 100mph. The tunnel was built, and the main road moved, to keep it away from Shugborough estate.