Birstall is a village a little to the North of Leicester, of which it is now almost a suburb.
The delightful River Soar flows through Birstall on its way to the River Trent, and there is also a canal. Birstall lies on the edge of Watermead Park, an extensive country park partly managed by Leicester City Council and partly by Leicestershire County Council.
Watermead Park has been created around the river and canal, using old gravel workings which have been filled in to make a string of lakes. One of these is called King Lear’s Lake, and features a sculpted tableau of characters from Shakespeare’s tragedy “King Lear”. Traditionally, Lear is said to have founded Leicester. There is also a giant model of a mammoth, the remains of which were discovered nearby.
There are several attractive old cottages in the oldest part of the village, around St. James the Greater Church.
Birstall formerly had a station on the Great Central Railway. Close to the site of the station is Leicester North, now the Southern terminus of what is the only preserved steam railway which was actually a main line, running to London at Marylebone. The Northern terminus today is at Loughborough.
Blue Badge Guide Colin Crosby is available to lead Guided Walks around Birstall for groups.