northernvicarwalks – Etwall to Burton (William Stanley Way 2)

Tuesday 4 February. I have a free day, so I’ll leave Caroline to run the office and Julie to go to the Old People’s Lunch. I drove to Etwall, parked by the church and started walking. I have decided to call it the William Stanley Way – he was Earl of Derby and has been suggested as one of the authors of Shakespeare. You would think you would be able to reach the old railway path by walking through the grounds of Etwall Leisure Centre, but there is a fence to separate walkers from squash players. Better to access the railway path via Old Station Close. I had the path to myself as I headed south. It was in a good condition, with little litter. Under the A50 and down to Egginton Junction. The original station here was opened in 1849, on the North Staffs line from Derby to Stoke. The line I have been walking down (the Great Northern line) was opened in 1878 and a new station was built for the junction. The chimney is of an old dairy, freight ran from a siding here until the mid-60s.

I joined the road and headed north, I should have walked south and photoed the signal box. In an ideal world the railway to Burton would have been kept as a walk route. If I head south via Egginton I will struggle to cross the A38 to reach the canal, so I need to curve round and cross the Dove further west. The path through this part of Hilton passes huge car parks by the various industrial units, then I walked through anonymous modern estates. There must be hundreds of new houses and flats, I wonder if there is any community. I ended up on the perimeter road, and photoed Marston church as I crossed Hilton Brook. A nice walk across the fields into the Hamlet.

I liked the notice at the end of the road through to Hatton, and walked down to St Mary’s church, Marston on Dove (SK 232 295). It’s a Grade 1 listed church, C13 early C14 (including the tower), restored in the C19  The Lych Gate is a War Memorial, with a lot of WW1 names and one from the Falkland’s. Sadly the church was locked, and their website gives no indication as to when it might be open – https://stmaryshilton.org/

A walk through the field back to the road, then south over the level crossing. Too cold to wait for a train. Over the Dove and into Staffordshire – I said Hello to the swans. There was an information board and a nature reserve on one of the old meanders of the river, but the map didn’t make it clear whether the path round the lake had any exit by Rolleston village, so I stayed on the road instead.

On the north side of Rolleston on Dove there are two footpaths. I decided not to take the one that goes towards the parish church – thinking it would probably be locked. (Checking later, their website hasn’t been updated since 2018 – http://www.rolleston.org.uk/stmarys/). I came into the village by the stream and found a derelict Brook House. They have a lovely website, it must have been a beautiful hotel – but their website hasn’t been updated for five years. It’s an C18 Grade II listed building – I wondered if it was a mill, but apparently not.

I could have walked straight through the village in the Burton direction, but a bit of googling had discovered the Rolleston station site – http://www.rolleston-on-dove-station.co.uk/  – and found that the railway line here is a nature trail and public path. (Another website said that there was Millennium funding to link this with the line I had started on, but the project never came to fruition). This piece of line was originally the Burton branch of the North Staffs, linking Tutbury to Burton, and opened in 1848. Later an east curve was opened by the Great Northern. They have done a superb job of making a decent path, including the community, and remembering the railway heritage – thank you. Staying on the railway meant I missed Stretton church and the shops in the village centre.

The railway becomes a road, then I walked under the A38 Burton bypass and down onto the Trent and Mersey Canal. This was one of the earliest canals in England, authorised by Act of Parliament in 1766 and completed in 1777. It runs from the River Trent at Derwent Mouth just east of Derby (Shardlow) to Preston Brook in Cheshire, where it joins the Bridgewater Canal, thus giving access to the Mersey. The first cross-country canal – and a huge part of the industrial development of the country. Brewing had been part of the life of Burton since the Benedictine Monastery was founded around 1000 AD, and the Trent itself had been made navigable in 1712. That enabled beer and textiles to leave Burton more easily than when the only exit was on a poor road. The Canal was easier than the River, and of course continued on past the town itself. The canal engineer, James Brindley, designed the canal from the Trent with wide locks, but Dallow lock (the only one passed as I walked this stretch) and everything to the south and west of the town is narrow. The railway arrived in the town in 1839, and Burton became the brewing capital of the world. There was a network of railway sidings – search youtube for “Burton on Trent brewery railways” – and a branch from the line I’ve just walked curved round to Dallow Lock.

The Kingfisher Project have done a lot of work on the canal and its environment – https://www.thekingfisherproject.co.uk/about/ – and there is more information at http://www.eaststaffsbc.gov.uk/parks-and-open-spaces/kingfisher-trail. Like all these projects it seems far easier to get money for capital works and lovely art, than it is for on-going maintenance and litter-picking. The main problem with this stretch of the canal is that it parallels the A38 and is noisy. However it was fun looking at the boats, including one called Zephyranthes, which I find is a group of plants in the Amaryllis family. I did about a mile and a half down the canal, past Horninglow Basin, then headed towards the railway station at the Shobnall Fields footbridge.

The middle of Burton is not a particularly attractive part of town. The Midland Grain Warehouse opposite the station dated to 1890 and is Grade 2 listed. It is now the Travelodge – I wonder how much of the original features they have kept. I arrived at 1319 a minute before the bus was due to leave for Etwall. It is quite a long ride to Etwall, and I needed the loo first. I caught the next bus at 1349! The original railway station was opened in 1839 by the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway. There was a major rebuilding in 1883 and another in 1970. It is not a beautiful building, but it does have a loo (for this relief, much thanks).

It is a 40 minute ride on the Trent Barton Villager, for much of the route paralleling my walk. The War Memorial and Church at Stretton look worth a better photo, and Rolleston looks worth a wander round. The bus diverts via Tutbury (Castle and church) and Hatton where there is a stop by the station and signalbox, opposite the Coffee Factory. According to https://www.nestle.co.uk/en-gb/media/pressreleases/nestle-investment-derbyshire-coffee-factory  in 2018 they were producing 35,000 tonnes of coffee a year. It takes an interesting route through the modern estates of Hilton, and then dropped me off by my car. I’d walked 10 miles in about 3 hours, and only had to stop once to get a funeral booked.

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