Alton Towers is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK, drawing millions of visitors from all over the world each year. But while the theme park may be the main draw for many visitors, there is much more to see and do in the surrounding area. Whether you are interested in history, nature, or adventure, there are plenty of other activities and attractions to explore. Let’s take a closer look at some other great things to do near Alton Towers.
Visit the Churnet Valley Railway
If you are a fan of trains and railways, then a trip to the Churnet Valley Railway is a must. This restored heritage railway runs through the stunning countryside around Alton Towers, offering visitors a chance to step back in time and experience the golden age of steam travel. The railway offers a variety of steam and diesel train rides that take visitors on a journey through the picturesque Churnet Valley. Along the way, you can enjoy stunning views of the Staffordshire countryside and pass through charming villages and historic stations. The railway also offers a range of special events and experiences throughout the year, including Santa and steam train rides, murder mystery evenings, and dining experiences.
Explore the Peak District National Park
The Peak District National Park is one of the most beautiful and diverse natural areas in the UK, with a rich variety of landscapes, wildlife, and activities to explore. The park covers over 550 square miles of rugged hills, rolling valleys, and dramatic moorland, offering visitors endless opportunities for hiking, cycling, horseback riding, and more. There are over 1,800 miles of public footpaths and bridleways to explore, ranging from gentle strolls to challenging long-distance hikes, and the park is also home to several historic villages and towns, including Bakewell, Buxton, and Castleton. Other popular activities in the park include rock climbing, caving, birdwatching, and water sports.
Visit the National Memorial Arboretum
The National Memorial Arboretum is a sprawling, 150-acre site that is dedicated to honouring the sacrifices of the British Armed Forces. The arboretum features over 30,000 trees and more than 350 memorials, each dedicated to a different branch of the armed forces or military conflict. Visitors can explore the arboretum’s many pathways and gardens, attend special events and exhibitions, or simply pay their respects at one of the many memorials. Some of the most notable memorials include the Armed Forces Memorial, the Shot at Dawn Memorial, and the Women’s Services Memorial. The arboretum also hosts a range of special events and activities throughout the year, including guided walks, talks, and concerts. What’s more – it’s FREE to enter.
Take a tour of Tutbury Castle
Tutbury Castle is a fascinating 1,000-year-old castle that has played a prominent role in English history. The castle has been the site of numerous battles, sieges, and royal visits over the centuries, and visitors can explore its many rooms, towers, and dungeons on a guided tour. The castle also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including jousting tournaments, medieval banquets, and ghost tours. Some of the highlights of a visit to Tutbury Castle include the Great Hall, the Queen’s Room, and the underground tunnel that connects the castle to the nearby priory.
Go caving at Poole’s Cavern
Poole’s Cavern is a stunning underground limestone cave system that is located just a short drive from Alton Towers. The caves are filled with fascinating geological formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstones, and visitors can take guided tours to explore their many chambers and passages. The tours are led by knowledgeable guides who provide insight into the history and formation of the caves, as well as the plants and animals that call them home. In addition to the cave tours, visitors can also enjoy the surrounding woodland trails, which offer scenic views of the Peak District landscape.
Visit the Staffordshire Hoard Exhibition
The Staffordshire Hoard is one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in British history, consisting of over 3,500 pieces of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver. The hoard was discovered in a field near Lichfield in 2009 and is believed to date from the 7th century. Today, visitors can explore the hoard and learn about its significance at the Staffordshire Hoard Exhibition, which is located at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent. The exhibition features a range of interactive displays, videos, and artefacts that help bring the story of the hoard to life.
Go on a canal boat trip
The UK’s canal network is a hidden gem that is often overlooked by visitors but offers a unique and relaxing way to explore the countryside. There are several canal boat operators in the Alton Towers area, offering trips along the picturesque Caldon Canal or the Trent and Mersey Canal. The boats are comfortable and well-equipped, with kitchens, bathrooms, and sleeping facilities, and provide a peaceful and scenic way to explore the area’s waterways. Along the way, you can pass through historic locks, tunnels, and aqueducts, and enjoy views of the countryside from a unique perspective.
Visit the Trentham Estate
The Trentham Estate is a stunning 725-acre estate that is located just a short drive from Alton Towers. The estate features a variety of attractions and activities, including a large lake, formal gardens, a maze, and a woodland adventure playground. Visitors can take a stroll around the lake, feed the resident ducks and swans, or explore the many trails and pathways that wind through the estate’s gardens and woodlands. There are also several restaurants and cafes on site, as well as a shopping village that offers a range of independent boutiques and artisanal shops. Finally, Trentham Gardens Monkey Forest is a great place to get up close and personal with a large group of Barbary macaques.
In conclusion, while Alton Towers may be the main attraction in the area, there are plenty of other things to see and do in the surrounding countryside. From exploring historic castles and museums to hiking in the Peak District National Park and boating on the canal, there is something for everyone in this beautiful and diverse part of the UK. Whether you are visiting for a day or a week, be sure to take some time to explore the many other attractions and activities in the Alton Towers area.