Brandon Marsh is a nature reserve managed by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust. It’s in the countryside at the edge of Coventry and easily accessible by car because of that. There’s plenty of a parking at the reserve. You enter through the visitor centre which has plenty of facilities: shop, cafe, toilets, baby-changing, etc. There is a charge to get in, or if you are likely to visit often you can become a member. You can’t use a bike or a scooter there due to the site being sensitive and dogs aren’t allowed (in the Brandon Marsh section), except for assistance dogs of course.
It’s great that the main paths are accessible for pushchairs or wheelchairs and you quickly feel you are miles away from anywhere, which doesn’t always happen on accessible paths. The interconnecting Kingfisher and Woodpecker trails are a good place to start exploring the reserve, whether you need an accessible path or not. The Kingfisher and Woodpecker paths are in the Brandon Marsh section of the reserve. Brandon Marsh is full of reeds and pools and there are plenty of water birds to see, especially if you use one of the hides (there are nine of them) to get a bit closer. Brandon Marsh is in the floodplain of the Avon, so it can get a bit muddy in the winter apparently if the river has been in flood.
Across the road and railway line there is the Brandon Reach nature reserve which has a different character and habitat. Here the habitat is grassland, scrub or woodland. It’s also great for exploring and dogs are allowed in this part of the reserve.
Brandon Marsh is full of old pits and pools created during its days as a quarry. Now nature has taken over and the pools and pits are lakes and reed beds. There are plenty of benches dotted around, so it’s easy just to relax a while and enjoy the view. The guide suggests trying some meditation and the sound of the reeds moving in the breeze is almost hypnotic. If you want to get closer to wildlife, you can go into one of the hides and get a chance to see the wildlife unobserved. Bring your binoculars if you have some, but you can see pretty well with the naked eye too.
Brandon Marsh is a great place to teach children about nature. We enjoyed this geological wall that shows the different rocks that occur in the area. As you can see there’s quite a range of colours and textures and even bricks represent some of the local geology. Younger children can hunt for hidden plaques on the brass rubbing trail to create colourful pictures on their rubbing sheet. There are regular events from pond dipping to art exhibitions to wildlife courses.
There are lots of places for kids to explore and enjoy nature including the mud kitchen, the mouse maze and mini-beast homes.
There’s also education and sensory gardens which are good for everyone to enjoy.
There are plenty of benches in the picnic area in the courtyard outside the the visitor centre. There are also toilets here and an outside tap for cleaning muddy boots (if you need to – we didn’t).
The Badger’s Kitchen tearoom is lovely: light, bright and open. The windows look out onto a lovely garden area and we saw lots of blue tits visiting a bird feeder.
The staff were welcoming and the service was good in the Badger’s Kitchen. We had a very tasty lasagne with chips and salad for our lunch. They do everything from cakes and snacks, light lunches through to main meals.
We also enjoyed a cake with a cup of tea. Perfect for a treat after you have been walking. Badger’s Kitchen have a nice selection of cakes available.
Brandon Marsh is a great place to spend time for all ages. There’s certainly enough to occupy you for a full day if you set out to explore the whole reserve. It’s certainly a place you could visit and revisit over the seasons and see it through the year. We spent the afternoon there and got to see a fair amount of the reserve. We’d certainly go back and explore some more.
Disclosure: I was provided with free entry and a meal for the purposes of this review.