Places to Visit in Staffordshire: Branston Water Park
I was born in Burton On Trent, Staffordshire, and lived the majority of my childhood in Rosliston, South Derbyshire. Which is only a 15 minute drive from Branston Water park. I can’t say that we visited all the time as we had Rosliston Forestry centre and the National Forest on our doorstep, so most of my memories are from there (although I have since discovered that you can walk from Rosliston Forestry centre to Branston Water Park on a 5.5 mile leg of the 75 mile National Forest Way) I do however have fond memories spent with my dad at Branston Water Park.
My dad has always been a fan of water; my younger sister and I learnt to windsurf before we were 10, and when we were teenagers he brought his first jet ski, which we learnt to wakeboard and water ski behind on the River Trent. So, you can imagine how he would enjoy a trip down to the lake at Branston Water Park to watch the small model boats and, back then, the windsurfers.
I vividly remember one year when the windsurfing and model boats weren’t allowed on the lake because of blue green algae. We were strictly told not to touch the water, but could still enjoy playing on the little ‘beaches’ and having a wander around the lake. I don’t know when the windsurfing stopped on the lake, but I don’t remember seeing them again after this year.
Honestly, according to my memories, not much has changed today. I left Burton On Trent briefly when I went to university but came back in 2008 when I was pregnant with my eldest son. At this time we lived in Branston, and the water Park was easily accessible to us by foot, so I would often take him to the little park just off the car park.
Now live in Anslow and still enjoy a walk around the water park, and- if I’m child free and after something a bit longer- a stroll down the canal towpath, which can be accessed from various points along the western side of the lake.
Branston Water Park was originally an open cast gravel pit during the 1930s-1950s but this was flooded to form the 40 acre lake that you can find today. The reed bed that can be found at the Water Park is one of the largest in Staffordshire and considered very important for wildlife. In 2005 Branston Water Park was awarded the Green flag award for the first time, the first open space in Staffordshire to do so. In 2010 Branston Water Park was designated as a Nature Reserve, and has been awarded the Green Flag award every year since first receiving it in 2005, showing it is incredibly well managed and maintained.
So, why visit Branston Water Park? Well first of all, The Derby Telegraph list it in their article ‘10 great places near Burton to enjoy a picnic’, and with plenty of picnic benches and other suitable areas, it’s easy to see why.
In total the site is 58.2 acres and you can find a path that runs around the entire perimeter of the lake (just over a mile if you walk all the way around) through the woodland, wetland and wildflower meadow that surrounds the lake. This walk is fascinating for adults and children alike, with information boards on the East and South sides of the lake describing the various wildlife, birds and their habitats that can be found residing by the lake.
It is easily accessible both by foot (from Tatenhill, Branston and via the canal path from Barton Under Needwood) and by car from the Northbound A38. Parking is free, and (in times where Covid-19 isn’t a concern) you can find a small visitor centre and café in the car park area, as well as public toilets. Both the path around the lakes and the toilets are disabled friendly, making the park entirely accessible for everyone.
The park that I used to take my (now 12 year old) son to when he was a toddler is still there and has been improved on over the years. My two younger children enjoy playing on this park, and their older sister regularly takes them for some fresh air and a frolic.
Although you can no longer windsurf on the lake The Burton Model boat club still have access to the lake, as do the Burton Mutual Angling club, who mainly fish for carp however the lake is also home to Bream, Tench, Pike, Roach, Perch and Eels. Guest day tickets are not allowed on Friday’s and Saturday’s during the months March-September.
It’s one of my go to places to recommend to all of the guests who stay with us at the glampsite in Anslow, and who want somewhere nice to walk. I have captured some glorious and dramatic sunsets when stretching my legs, and during one quiet evening walk I kept bumping into a friendly local Heron.
If timed just right you can enjoy a lovely amble around the lake and then head around the corner to the Bridge Inn to enjoy a delicious Italian lunch or dinner, especially lovely in summer when you can take advantage of their quaint little beer garden.
Branston Water Park has been a god-send for me during the various lockdowns and tier restrictions, providing an escape from it all where I can clear my mind and enjoy being out in nature. As the summer months approach and we start emerge from the safe cocoons that are our homes I can’t wait to spend more time here.
To book your stay at Peake’s retreats glampsite and visit the water park during your stay visit www.peakesretreats.co.uk
You can book a table and view the Bridge Inn Menu on their website www.thebridgeinnbranston.com