Cody playing with large stick

Life under coronavirus lockdown has not made much difference to us at the Sticks. It has curtailed our political activities and pushed action group meetings onto the now notorious Zoom platform but other than that our somewhat solitary lifestyle has served us well. With our garden and small holding on site we are lucky enough to have the space to enjoy most of our outdoor activities without the need to venture off our own property. In the new social division "people with gardens and people without" we are definitely in the former, lucky group.

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With a dog and so many footpaths within a few hundred metres of our gate it is not surprising that one of our many activities is walking. After years spent running and concentrating more on the effort than on my surroundings, walking is an eye opener. I have spotted things I have run past many times but never seen. At a slower, even if often brisk pace, there is time to notice the flora and fauna, the changing seasons and the colours and textures of nature.

Sunshine on Marshes Hill

Situated in the North Midlands of England (a small country, still at the time of writing part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland a union which seems increasingly threatened by the looming Brexit), the Sticks is in a beautiful location on the edge of the Staffordshire Moorlands: Six miles from Leek, seven miles from Stoke, 35 miles from Manchester and 55 miles from Birmingham we are situated just below the brow of a hill on the western slope and enjoy the sunsets over Mow Cop, a folly on the Staffordshire/Cheshire border, and in the distance the Welsh hills. 

Photo of reflection in mirror

North Staffordshire is not the first place you'd think of as a major tourist area, but it is. If you haven't visited, you really should. From the Peak District to the Potteries, from Alton Towers to Trentham Gardens, indoor entertainment and outdoor adventure, there is something for everyone. 

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Whether we simply want fresh air and exercise or need to connect with nature to boost our flagging spirits, these are some of the places in easy reach. Whatever the weather or season there is somewhere nearby to lift the mood.

In addition to Marshes Hill Common and Greenway Bank Country park, our local area is cris-crossed with many public footpaths. In this section we will attempt to describe some of the walks we have built up and illustrate them with mapped tracks and with photos taken at different times of the year to show the changing views and vegetation.