Route description & photos
Start from the old North Staffordshire Railway (disused) line at Oak Road, Westwood, just to the west of Leek. Commence walking North West towards Rudyard.
The first section of walking is serene and easy, following the flat and straight route of the old Leek to Rudyard railway line.
A couple of bridges are crossed, and views open up to either side.
A short section continues between tall embankments, and continues over more old viaducts carrying the old line.
The path passes through a fence and into a car park as Rudyard station is approached.
Rudyard station is a pleasant and interesting spectacle along the route.
Rudyard station looks more like an oversized toy train set than a miniature railway!
After the station, follow the railway line to the dam.
At the dam, turn left to cross a footbridge onto the dam itself.
Continue across the dam. Refreshments are available at the boathouse, or at the nearby Hotel Rudyard.
From the end of the dam, turn sharp left to drop down to the foot of the dam wall.
Bear right onto the path that follows the canal feeder.
Continue along the canal feeder path as Hotel Rudyard stands tall on your right-hand-side.
Carry on along the canal feeder path, which can be muddy in a couple of places, but is mainly a decent walking surface.
Cross over the A53 and continue ahead onto a public footpath through farmland. Look out for when the path veers left alongside the canal feeder when the main track through the farm goes straight ahead.
Eventually, the canal feeder reaches the actual canal. At this point, bear left to cross the bridge. After crossing the bridge, head through a series of passageways between tall fences.
You will reach a T-junction of these paths, and you turn left. you are now back on the old disused North Staffordshire Railway line again, but south of Leek this time. Unfortunately, the line does not link completely up with the part we started on; an old tunnel has been filled in under the centre of Leek.
If tunnels are your thing though, turn right here to follow an optional diversion down to a tunnel you can walk through in the Cheddleton direction. Then head back to return to this point.
Continue along the path, pass under a viaduct and across the car park for the large Morissons store.
Head over towards the petrol station and through the underpass.
Bear right out of the underpass, then left onto Burton Street. Take the fourth right onto The Walks, a cobbled residential cul-de-sac, and follow up to its end.
From the end of The Walks, a long passageway continues through to Cruso Street.
Turn left onto Cruso Street, then right onto James Street, and bend round left into Picton Street.
Continue to the end of Picton Street, and opposite you will see the Take-A-Break sandwich and oatcake shop. If it is breakfast or lunch time, you will not be disappointed!
Head along Westwood Road towards the recreation gardens. Look for a narrow alleyway on your right. Turn into this to follow around to the left between the backs of houses. At the end, turn right into North Street. Follow footpath and cyclepath signs for Rudyard.
Towards the end of North Street, veer right onto a footpath that passes between some houses and avoids roadside walking. Continue straight ahead over the next road.
Continue ahead onto another footpath at a bollard, and soon you will see another sign for Rudyard, pointing left down some steps.
Head down the steps to rejoin the old railway line. Pass under the bridge to return to the start point. Enjoy your oatcakes!