Sunday, 6 January 2013

Cannock Chase: Marquis Drive Visitors Centre

Cannock Chase Country Park attracts mountain bikers, ramblers, dog walkers, horse riders and yet more mountain bikers from miles around.  It is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and includes forest, heathland and park areas.

If you have smaller children, the best place to start is the Visitors' Centre on Marquis Drive, where you can get to a host of paths suitable for buggies, scooters, trikes and bikes.  We like the paths marked on this map which provide enough distance and gradient for a small boy on a bike with stabilisers.  There are also family cycling trails of 3.5 to 9 miles, which we haven't tried yet.

The Visitors' Centre also has a good outdoor playground with swings, climbing frames and a good collection of wobbly bridges and balancing beams.  But it turns into a mud fest with the slightest amount of rain, so come with splash suits, old clothes and welly boots!  There is also a big area for picnics (including barbeques), frisbees and ball games.

The cafe is basic, but it does a range of hot and cold drinks, snacks, sandwiches, jacket potatoes (about £3) and bacon butties (£2.50).  And all those mud caked mountain bikers mean your kids will never make too much mess.

Round up

Cafe Latte price: £1.65
Favourite cake: Chocolate covered flapjack £1.50 - it was so chunky we shared 1 piece between 3
Child friendly highlights: highchairs, children's portions including beans on toast for £1.50
Buggy friendly: Most of the paths are ok, the playground is a bit harder going
Car parking: £1 for up to 3 hours or £2 over 3 hours, but plenty of roadside parking too


Very much an outdoor destination, with the cafe not much more than a convenient pit stop, but a great place for bikes and good value food and drink.

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