The National Forest is a National Treasure, but walkers from Derbyshire and visitors from afar tend to migrate further north to the ‘honey pots’ of the Peak District National Park. This is a great shame for they miss seeing the attractive and varied landscape of what is Britain’s boldest environmental project to create a new forest for the nation.
This delightful walk visits two of South Derbyshire’s prettiest villages and also two of National Forest’s important attractions, Beehive Farm and the Rosliston Forestry Centre. Over six million trees have been planted, 47 miles of new hedgerow created, 60 new bluebell sites planted, over 200 boxes installed for noctule bats and 10 new otter holts.
The walk takes you through the Rosliston Forestry Centre, where there is plenty to see and do, from quiet places where you can observe wildlife, to the more boisterous activities of the play area. The visitor centre provides refreshments, workshops and information.
Rosliston with its colourful gardens and smart houses is a pretty village and Coton in the Elms is a real gem. A stream flows along its main street between well cut lawns, with a pretty little bridge enhancing the idyllic scene.
Length: 4.25 miles.
Start/Finish: Roadside parking in Elms Road, on the northern side of the village.
Location: South of Burton upon Trent mid way between the A38 and the A444.
Terrain: Level walking mostly along good paths. Take particular care where the grass verge is narrow, on two short sections of the route, when it may be necessary to walk in the road.
1. Leave Elms Road and cross Burton Road, on the eastern side of the village, to a footpath sign on the opposite side of the road. Walk up a driveway passing a block of garages on your left, and go through a stile into a field.
2. Keep close to the hedge at first, but where it abruptly turns to the right maintain the same direction and gradually angle to the left to a stile by a metal gate, 75 yards from the bottom corner of the field.
3. Cross a concrete bridge over a ditch and enter the next field by a metal gate.
4. Keep straight on, aiming towards a caravan park in the distance. Pass to the left of a clump of trees and a pond, to a stile on the right at the top of the field.
5. After passing the caravan site, take the second of two paths to the left. The paths are separated by less than ten yards.
6. Continue straight ahead without deviation through woodland and open spaces to reach a stile in the boundary fence. Cross the stile and turn left, to walk up a lane past Beehive Farm.
7. At the road junction, continue ahead along the footpath, signed for ‘Coton and Walton’.
8. On reaching a mini-roundabout, turn right up Strawberry Lane. Walk along the grass track to the rear of the cricket pavilion and where it divides, go to the left.
9. Cross a plank footbridge and, turn right on entering an open field and keep close to the hedge. On reaching a farm access road, turn right and follow it, until it swings to the left.
10. Go through a gap and turn left, to walk along a grass track parallel with the farm road, before rejoining the road at a path junction.
11. Walk up the road towards Calves Cross Farm, before turning left at a footpath sign just before reaching a ‘No public access’ notice.
12. After 25 yards go through a gap into another field. Continue with the hedge on your left to the bottom corner, then walk a few yards to the right and, turn left to cross a stile.
13. Go to the right into Rosliston Wood, soon turning left along a gravel path, then right in a few yards. Continue on this path before turning left, opposite Severn Trent Sewage Works.
14. Walk up through the Visitor Centre, heading for the exit, but just before reaching the road, turn left by a wide gateway, at a ‘Memorial Plot Rosliston Village’ footpath sign.
15. Follow the path, keeping close to the hedge on the right, turn right across the middle of a field at a ‘Rosliston’ sign.
16. Walk to the left down the village street, past the Bull’s Head, turn right down Catton Lane. At the end of the village, by the speed restriction signs, turn left through a gap into a field and keeping the hedge close on your right walk down the field, to go through a gap to the right of a clump of trees.
17. Continue by the hedge for 40 yards, and then turn right at an angle of 90 degrees (avoiding the gap into a second field) and walk down the field with the hedge on your right.
18. When the hedge ends at a large gap, go to the left for 35 yards and then right to the bottom corner of the field. Cross a plank bridge over a stream and follow a fenced path to go over another bridge into a field.
19. Turn left and follow the hedge down to the bottom of the field, to join a field access track leading down to the road. Turn to the left down the road.
20. The grass verge on this short stretch of the walk is narrow and uneven and great care must be taken. Coton-in-the-Elms is soon reached, where you turn left down Elms Road back to the start of the walk.
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PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE AREA
Beehive Farm (Tel. 01283 763980) is located on the edge of Rosliston Village and is open to visitors. The animal area contains rare breed poultry, ducks, pigs, goats, sheep, donkeys, miniature Shetland pony, rabbits, guinea-pigs and peafowl. There is a play area, pet shop and café. Fishing, caravanning and camping are available.
Rosliston Forestry Centre (Tel. 01283 563483) is a great place for all the family with woodland walks, indoor and outdoor play areas, craft shops and a restaurant. You can also hire a cycle, go fishing and join an education programme. Open daily.
Chapmans Plant Centre and Woodland Walk (Tel. 01283 543546) stock an extensive range of quality garden plants. Chapmans Woodland was a winner of The National Forest Tender Scheme, and was thought to be an exceptional woodland creation. Open daily.
The Queens Head (01283 762573) is a pleasant spacious pub, situated on Coalpit Lane, that caters for private parties and functions as well as local and passing trade. Open Tuesday to Sunday lunchtimes and evenings (closed Mondays). Food served lunchtimes and evenings every day, except Mondays.
The Honey Pot Tea Rooms (Tel. 01283 763980) at Beehive Farm, provide tasty hot and cold food, including breakfast. Open Wednesday to Sunday 8.30am – 4pm from Easter to the end of October half term. Closed Monday and Tuesday, except for Bank Holidays. Reduced opening hours in the winter.
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The tendency of visitors to Derbyshire is to head north to the Peak District, missing all together Southern Derbyshire and its scattering of pretty villages of which Coton-in-the-Elms must rank as probably the most attractive.
It might be somewhat presumptuous to claim it has Derbyshire’s answer to Bourton-on-the-Water - but without the gift shops and cafes. What it does have is a stream flowing by the side of the main street, with well mown grassy banks and a handsome brick bridge and wild fowl. The fowl even have their own road sign!
In the past Coton has been described as a small isolated village, lying in a predominantly agricultural area just outside the South Derbyshire coalfield.
The pits have now closed, and the claim to isolation is no longer true, the village lying only two miles off the busy A38, which provides access to Birmingham. It is also within easy reach of several towns, including Burton, five miles to the north.
All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.