Exploring the Peace and Quiet of the Dunstall Estate

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Now we’re allowed to travel a little further from home and meet several people outdoors I was desperate to find somewhere to explore with my parents knowing that we’d be able to maintain a good social distance. The Dunstall Estate near Barton Under Needwood offered up all this and more.

About the Dunstall Estate

The Dunstall Estate offers over 1,000 acres of farm and woodland with pretty much all of it open to the public to explore. The Estate and village date back to the mid 1100’s when it was owned by the Earl of Derby. It is now home to a wealth of farm animals and several rental properties which all look like delightful places to call home!

charming english country cottage

Walking the Dunstall Estate

You have plenty of options for a walk on the Dunstall Estate, some short and easy, some a little harder. Most will include a lot of grass fields and some shaded woods and you’re pretty much guaranteed to see some animals cross your path. My parents are avid ramblers so we opted for a longer walk, stopping off for a picnic halfway round.

We started in the Co op carpark in Barton Under Needwood – you can normally find plenty of parking and can stay for up to 4 hours. You could also park at Barton Marina and walk back into the village which will add around 15 minutes to your walk.

road to start walk at the dunstall estate

Head out of the exit and turn left along the footpath. Cross the first field then over the stile to a treelined path. You’ll eventually pass a huge house and some barns before you enter the woods. This was such a relief for us as we were walking on a crazy hot spring day and we all need the cool of the shade.

Once you wind your way back and forth through the woods you’ll once again be back into the fields. Careful here if you’re walking with a dog there are sheep everywhere so make sure they’re on the lead. In fact Dunstall requests that you keep them on a lead for the whole walk, there are animals everywhere.

cows in a green meadow

Keep going through the sheep field and you’ll find the perfect spot to stop for your picnic. Just look at the view above! Before you head back into the woods on the other side of the field, walk all the way down to the fence. You’ll be rewarded with the most amazing view across to Dunstall village and the rest of the estate. We watched a cute muntjac deer cross past the cows as we ate our sandwiches.

pathway down a hill bordered by trees to a gate in the sunshine at the bottom

After lunch it’s back into the woods which do get a little steep so step with care. You’ll exit into the main estate and past the country cottages on your left. Keep going past Dunstall farm, till you reach the stables at the bottom. Make sure you look to your left to see the beautiful wooden horse statue.

wooden horse sculpture at stables

From here you have a few options. You could continue up to Dunstall village, past the church and add a walk around the grounds of Dunstall Hall. Or head back on yourself past some more cottages and the lake.

dunstall church from the bottom of a tree lined path

If you choose to head up to Dunstall Hall you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for the entrance. Pass the Hall and high wall of the gate house, keep going down the road until you see the tall metal gate into the grounds. This will add another half an hour or so to your walk and can get pretty flooded at the bottom. This area is home to fairly large red deer and you really must stick to the paths. The deer are very curious and we had one follow us until we left the area. Probably due to having the dog with us but it did make us fairly nervous. I’m not sure I’d recommend this part of the walk.

Head back towards the stables then over the cattle grid. Walk down the tree lined road to the lake at the end. Cross behind the houses, continue down the road then its back into a sheep filled field. We visited in spring and saw many black and white lambs, much to the delight of my nine year old daughter. They didn’t seem to mind us walking past. Walk under the electricity line and up to the top of the field. This section was quite a slog in the heat and where my daughter started to grumble a little.

one black sheep and one white sheep

Once you reach the top of the field you’ll find a gate back into the woods. It’s just a short and shaded walk back to the field you started in.

The whole walk took us around four hours to complete and although we were hot and tired by the end, it’s not strenuous at all.

lake at the dunstall estate

Is the walk at Dunstall suitable for dogs?

The estate is a lovely place to explore with your dog and although there are many stiles you’ll have to navigate, they all had spaces for Holly to get through or dog gates to make it easy for her to pass. As said, you’ll need to keep them on a lead for most of it. Make sure you take plenty of water and bags to clear up after your pooch.

holly and piper on a walk at the dunstall estate

Where to eat after your walk.

Currently you don’t have many options as all the pubs and cafes in Barton are closed due to the lockdown. I recommend you pack your own picnic and stop halfway round. We also sent my Dad to the Co op for a celebratory ice cream at the end of our walk. It’s one of the best supermarkets in the area, with good social distancing practises in place.

Once lockdown eases then there are plenty of lovely places to eat in the village of Barton Under Needwood. The 3 Horseshoes is a safe bet if you’re hungry, their pies are amazing! If you park at the marina then you’ll find many more places to choose from including one of my all time favourite cafes, The Apple Tree.

How to get to the Dunstall Estate

It’s really easy to get to both of the carparks mentioned. The village of Barton under Needwood is just two minutes drive from the A38. The marina is even closer.

The address of the Co op car park is:

  • Crowberry Lane
  • Barton-under-Needwood 
  • DE13 8AFGB

A walk at the Dunstall Estate was the perfect place to reconnect with my parents after the long weeks of lockdown. We hardly saw anyone else for the whole time we were there, despite the many pictures in the news of people crowding to other beauty spots. The closest field to the village of Barton did have a few kids playing a socially distanced game of rounders but head a little further and you’re completely isolated. This is a great choice if you’re looking for a quite place to explore in Staffordshire safely.

For another lovely yet quiet walk in the area, you could try this 3 mile route up Battlestead Hill and across to Rangemore which starts at Tatenhill, the next village along from Dunstall.

pin image for walking at the dunstall estate

You might also enjoy reading my review of the Meynell Ingram Arms. Or this review of the Red Lion pub at Newborough.

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