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The vibrant town of Stafford boasts lots of historic attractions and is at the heart of northwest England’s finest countryside and tourism destinations. In town, a timber-framed Elizabethan house is home to a great museum. Stafford Castle, the Shire Hall Gallery’s collections and great shopping and nightlife are among the other draws. Country houses Sandon Hall, Shugborough Hall and Weston Hall are within a few miles of the town centre and easy to reach with car rental.
Who to Book With
Avis and Enterprise are two of the four globally-recognised car rental suppliers with offices in Stafford. Locally-based companies Afford and Rising Brook allow consumers another choice. Online bookings are the way to go to get the best deals and save money.
Best Time to go
The period from late spring to mid-September is the best time of year to enjoy Stafford and to take excursions into the surrounding area. The Shropshire Hills and the Peak District are always that bit more pleasant when the weather is fine. Mid-July until the August Bank Holiday sees ever-increasing numbers of visitors and roads are often congested. Vehicle and accommodation rates often increase at this time.
Need to Know Essentials
Car hire companies ask renters to show the following items when they collect their vehicles:
- Their current UK driving permit or an international driving license
- Secondary photographic identity, with passports the preferred document
- The same credit card the booking was confirmed with
- A printout of the rental confirmation
A big chunk of Stafford’s town centre has pedestrian precincts. Outside these streets, driving is fairly straightforward as the town does not suffer from the congestion common in the nearby metropolises of Manchester and Birmingham. Council car parks in Stafford require drivers to pay and display between 08:00 and 18:00. Short-stay car parks cost around £1 per hour, with the maximum stay being four hours. In the evenings, there is not usually a parking charge.
Due to the ease of driving in Stafford, the easiest way of getting around for tourists is by car. Bus routes radiate out from the city centre and link it to residential zones surrounding town, but not to any regional tourism draws. Taxis provide an alternate travel option, but are neither cheap nor convenient when making longer journeys.
Stafford Railway Station was a major regional train hub before drastic cuts in the 1960s decimated its services and routes. The station is now managed by Virgin Trains and is a stop on many of the intercity mainline services between London Euston and Glasgow. These trains also stop at stations in Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.
Stafford is well-served by taxi firms. Four big companies and a few smaller ones provide a service. There are ranks at the rail station as well as at central locations such as Broad Street. The majority of the companies operate by a telephone reservations service. Abacus is a recently-established operator with a good reputation for quality service.
Two bus companies operate in town routes and services to the outskirts of Stafford. Several smaller companies offer regional services to nearby towns and urban communities. Arriva Midlands is the bigger of the two town bus firms, running about 20 routes linking the town centre to the hospital and university. Fares vary with the lengths of journeys, and tickets are paid for on the buses.
Stafford is in a prime position for sightseeing in the region. Its proximity to the M6 motorway provides an easy route south to the Midlands and north to Stoke, Manchester and the Yorkshire Dales. Ashbourne and the southern edge of the Peak District are 30 miles away. With light traffic, the journey can be done in just 45 minutes. Nearer to town, three stately homes provide a glimpse of England’s heritage.
Shugborough Estate - A fabulous Georgian mansion set in a 900-acre estate, dotted with some very strange monuments. Walking the state rooms of the Earls of Lichfield, watching workers in period costumes making cheese or brewing beer and visiting masterfully recreated sets such as a Victorian schoolroom are among the highlights here.
Crich Tramway Village - Is home to the National Tramway Museum, where a collection of 70 trams illustrates their evolution from the 1880s to the 1960s. Visitors can ride a historic tram to Glory Mine, while the Discovery Depot chidrens’ play area and the Eagle Press are other draws.
The Carding Mill Valley - This covers 5,000 acres of the Shropshire Hills and is a gorgeous spot for hill-walking and just soaking up bucolic vistas. Bird-watching, horseback riding and cycling are the other activities to enjoy here. For those less inclined towards exercise, a park road gives access to hilltop scenic viewpoints.