After twelve days our road trip was coming to an end as we left Shropshire and headed North East towards our final stay in Lichfield, Staffordshire. Wonderful adventures exploring Worcestershire and Shropshire (Road Trip to Worcester , Exploring Medieval Shrewsbury , Visiting the World Famous Ironbridge , and The Pontcysyllte Aquaduct). Great trip so far but still a few places to see hopefully.
As you would expect I had planned a route from Ludlow to Lichfield avoiding as many major roads as possible. We had an Airbnb booked but didn’t want to arrive too early so a slight diversion for a brief lunch stop was factored in. I had heard of a place called Cannock Chase but knew nothing about it so that’s where we headed.
National German Cemetery
To say that we were blown away by Cannock Chase is an understatement. It’s not a park and it’s not woodland either. It’s a forest! It’s a huge forest. Now I know that a lot of you will be aware of this and know all about Cannock but we had absolutely no idea. As the title says we were absolutely astonished by how big it was and how beautiful.
Another huge surprise as we drove through the forest was a sign for the German Military Cemetery. Who knew there was such a thing? Situated right next to a British War Graves site it’s the only German Military cemetery in the UK and contains almost 5000 graves of German military and interred civilians from both worlds wars.
Set in a beautiful location it’s a fitting resting place for so many lost souls and is wonderfully kept and looked after. We wandered around the site just imagining a few of the thousands of stories that lie behind the simply-etched names on each gravestone. Hopefully keeping their memories alive of only for a few minutes. A peaceful, thought-provoking place.
Further into the forest we parked up at the Cannock Chase Forest car park and set off on the Fairoak walking trail. At around 3 miles it was an easy circular walk through the forest taking an hour or so but absolutely wonderful. Great scenery and unbelievably quiet.
The Medieval City of Lichfield
After checking in to our lovely Airbnb and getting a decent nights sleep we set off bright and early for a day exploring the cathedral city of Lichfield a few miles away. Didn’t really know what to expect but we’d heard good things and were pleasantly surprised.
On our way to the cathedral, which seems to be the centre of the city, we stumbled past a statue. Not just any statue but one of Captain Edward Smith, the captain of the Titanic who was born in nearby Hanley. Over the years we’ve visited Titanic museums all over the world in places such as Belfast, Southampton, Cork and of course Halifax ,Nova Scotia. And to make this statue even more interesting it was sculpted by Kathleen Scott, wife of Antarctic explorer Robin Falcon Scott, in 1914. Two of our favourite historical subjects strangely linked.
Weather wasn’t great unfortunately so I’m not sure if we got to see the best of Lichfield plus of course social distancing and mask wearing continue to affect everyone. The cathedral does appear to dominate the city but apparently it is the only medieval three-spired cathedral in the UK so fairly special.
The most interesting place for us was the Samuel Johnson Museum on Market Street. The birthplace of the famous 18th century poet, playwright, and writer who is most famous for his Dictionary of the English Language published in 1755. We had the museum all to ourselves and spent an hour or so engrossed in all things Dr Johnson and English Language. Fascinating.
Couldn’t resist this last picture from outside our little Airbnb. Our host ran his own business upgrading and working on camper vans, from home and overseas, and had this American classic sitting on the drive. Worth a few bob I reckon.
One of the main reasons that we chose Lichfield was that it was close to the National Memorial Arboretum in nearby Alrewas. It’s the site of national remembrance and contains over 350 armed services and civilian memorials amidst over 30,000 trees. We visited many years ago but have been desperate to return for a long time and scheduled a day’s visit as we left Lichfield.
The plan was to meet our eldest son and daughter-in-law, Shaun and Katie, and spend the day at the arboretum. Unfortunately we awoke to the wettest day of the year, check it out that’s official, and had to cancel our trip. Gutted. Luckily Shaun invited us down to stay and we had a wonderful day with him and Katie but we were all a little disappointed.
Sunday was yet another day out when we shot up to Great Glen in Leicestershire (we still had the car) to visit our great friends Jackie and Trevor. Meeting for a late breakfast in a lovely garden centre at Wistow was so nice but left us wanting to see them far more often.
Back to Knole
01/10 – 05/10/2020