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Branston Water Park

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
I am a freelance writer specialising mainly in health and education and living in Staffordshire. Find me on Linked In
Published November 3rd 2015
From A Giant Hole To Premier Lake And Wildlife Site
It is hard to believe that the beautiful setting of Branston Water Park was once a huge open cast gravel pit.

As soon as all the sand and gravel had been extracted and the pit abandoned in the 1950s, a lake gradually began to form in its place due to the large hole filling with ground water from the natural water table.

Branston Water Park, Staffordshire
A couple of the islands on the main lake

The result is a 40 acre lake measuring some five metres deep which is surrounded by wetland, woodland and a wildflower meadow.

The huge lake contains several small islands which, together with the adjoining wetland area, are a natural habitat for nesting and migrating waterfowl.

Branston Water Park
The main entrance just off the A38

And yet it lies immediately next to the busy A38 dual carriageway and less than a mile from the large Staffordshire town of Burton upon Trent.

Branston Water Park, which is rightly regarded as a premier wildlife site in the region, was opened to the public in 1989 by East Staffordshire Borough Council.

Branston Water Park
Which way to the lake?

They remain responsible for managing the site both for the benefit of wildlife and the enjoyment of all who visit for whatever reason.

That includes young children up to the age of eight who are attracted, with their parents, to the play area near the entrance to the water park.

Branston Water Park
Model boats mingling with the ducks

Numerous groups also use Branston Water Park for activities including Burton Mutual Angling Club and Burton & District Model Boat Club, who were happily manoeuvring their boats on the day I visited.

In fact, visitors can now also enjoy a hot drink and a snack after the previously unmanned visitor centre was turned into The Hub Café in August this year.

Branston Water Park, The Hub Cafe
The Hub Cafe which used to be the Visitor Centre

But as well as the café, which lies next to the car-park and toilets, there are also ample picnic areas with tables dotted around the lake.

There is a one mile surfaced path around the lake for those who are feeling sufficiently energetic, commencing next to the car park and café.

Branston Water Park, Trent and Mersey Canal
The Trent and Mersey Canal runs alongside the water park

Just a short way along the circular path and you will come to the adjacent Trent and Mersey Canal, which borders the other edge of the site from the A38.

The lake was absolutely teeming with birds on the day I was there, not only geese and ducks of various types, but also coots, swans, a grebe and a heron high up in a tree.

Branston Water Park
There is wildfowl almost everywhere you look

Along the edge of the lake there are regular fishing platforms and vantage points to get some of the best views of the birdlife on the water, including the curiously named Alligator Point which also has a small picnic seating area.

Branston Water Park, Alligator Point
The unusually named Alligator Point offers great views and a place to sit

These give you the best view of the islands dotted on the lake, but visitors can also enjoy a meadow area and a reed bed said to be one of the largest in Staffordshire and of particular importance to wildlife.

The site has been designated as a Local Nature Reserve and also forms part of The National Forest Way - a 75 mile long walking trail linking the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire to Beacon Hill Country Park in neighbouring Leicestershire.

Branston Water Park
Another view of the main lake from the circular footpath

Branston Water Park has also held the prestigious Green Flag award since 2005 in recognition of the quality, cleanliness, safety and wildlife value of the site.

Branston Water Park
A special spot has been reserved for pet dogs

Even dog owners are given a specific spot where their pets can enjoy a swim if needed, in order to prevent disturbance to the local wildlife.
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Why? A Lake Filled With More Wildfowl Than You Can Imagine
When: All year
Phone: 01283 508000
Where: Branston Water Park, Lichfield Road (A38), Branston, Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire DE14 3HD
Cost: Free, including parking
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