On a sunny Saturday morning, 14th August 2021, I took an early morning bus to Branston to have a walk along the pathway which runs by the River Trent. It seems that it is becoming a Saturday morning tradition for me; last week I took an early train to Radcliffe on Trent to walk along a pathway which runs by the River Trent.
In order to conserve energy for the walk, and not because I’m really lazy, I caught the bus from near my home to the town centre, from where I caught another bus to Branston. It was the Midland Classic X12 service towards Lichfield. I alighted near the road which leads down to Branston Golf and Country Club, where the path begins.
A modern housing estate has been built at the front of the golf club, and all of the streets there are named after famous golfers and golf courses, including Sam Torrance, Tony Jacklin, Ian Woosnam, Birkdale and “Turnbury”, which I’m guessing is supposed to be named for the golf course “Turnberry”. Faldo Close was the road I was looking for, named after Sir Nick Faldo, of course.
The path runs between the golf club and the local secondary school’s sports fields. The path was refurbished in 2020 as part of upgrading work on the town’s flood defences, of which it forms a part.
The path continues past the Riverside Hotel to a small bridge with a gate on the other side. This is Branston Leas, a nature reserve which has been created by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, St. Modwen (the house builders), The Woodland Trust and the National Forest Company. It is an 82-acre site with more than 20,000 trees and 14,000 bluebell bulbs having been planted there in recent years. More information on the Branston Leas and a walking map can be found here.
Part of the site is the Branston Peace Wood, a circular area surrounded by benches for people to sit and reflect on loved ones who have passed away. There is a plaque with the names of locals who are no longer with us, as well as listing the names of Branston residents who went to fight in the First and Second World War, and never returned.
I carried on down the path to another gate which leads to another part of the nature reserve. There is a much longer path there which leads down towards Walton on Trent, but I didn’t have the time to follow it. I turned back and walked back towards Branston, walking parallel to the railway line as trains thundered past on their way to Burton and Birmingham.
I ended up back where I came in, at the gate next to the bridge. I walked back to the storm drain, which is used for discharging excess water back into the river when it floods. Near there is a small woodland path which leads back onto the main road, called the “Toadhole”. Looking at old maps, it’s one of the oldest parts of Branston, which was once a small village near to Burton, but has now been absorbed into the town thanks to the building of houses, more houses and even more houses. Yet more houses are under construction in the area at the time of writing this.
I exited the Toadhole and crossed over the road to the bus stop outside the Branston Depot, a site originally built as a machine gun factory for the First World War. The war finished before the factory could be completed, but they finished building it anyway. Crosse & Blackwell used it for making Branston Pickle in the 1920s, then the government used it as a military clothing depot during the Second World War. These days, it’s home to B&Q, who use it as a distribution warehouse.
Branston Leas was a place to visit which had been on my list for a while, and it was well worth the wait to visit it. Thank you very much for reading, and you can follow the blog on all major social media platforms, details of which can be found here.