In the autumn/winter edition of Sauce, our Sunday stroll takes us to the National Memorial Arboretum, the UK’s year-round centre of remembrance at Alrewas.

Situated at the heart of the UK in the lush Staffordshire countryside, it represents a growing, living and lasting tribute to those who have served and continue to serve their country. Trees seem a fitting means of remembrance, signifying growth and renewal, changing as they do through the seasons and over the years. 2018 is especially significant at the Arboretum as we mark 100 years since the end of the First World War and 100 years since the founding of the Royal Air Force.

Under, between and around the 30,000 maturing native and specimen trees of the Arboretum there are plaques, benches and wreaths in memory of those who have died in conflict, served their country or have another special reason for being remembered. There are more than 350 memorials to take in as you walk the 150 acres of this humbling and peaceful site, as well as a series of wooden huts providing shelter from the elements and information about the groups and individuals remembered here.

The impressive visitor centre houses a gift shop and exhibition spaces as well as a restaurant, while on the opposite side of the beautiful Heroes’ Square you’ll find a café and the Millennium Chapel, where an open service of remembrance is held every day at 11am. For families with children there are plenty of opportunities to learn about the work and sacrifice of those commemorated here, and play areas to expend some energy.

The restaurant area, flooded with light from the glass wall looking out onto the courtyard, has plenty of seating and operates on a self-serve system. Breakfast is available until 11.30am if you need to fuel up before exploring the grounds, while lunch options change daily and start from £6.95.  The deli serves cold meats, quiche and Staffordshire cheeses accompanied by seasonal salads, and sandwiches are also on offer.

On a chilly Sunday afternoon the roast dinner calls out, with a choice of two meats and a vegetarian dish along with roast and boiled potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, seasonal green and root vegetables and gravy for less than £10.  There are plenty of attractive scones and cakes to choose from if you want to bump this up to two courses, like wildflower honey and lavender or rose and pistachio. Using the best local and seasonal produce available, this is a delicious and hearty meal that will set you up for further exploring.

There’s a dedicated route for dogs and their owners which leads around most of the Arboretum perimeter, through the Royal British Legion Poppy Field and all the way to Watersmeet, where the River Trent and the River Tame intersect. While dogs are not permitted in the restaurant, they are allowed in the café where tea and coffee, sandwiches and cakes are served on local Dudson crockery.

There is a £3 charge to park all day and entrance to the site is free, with a suggested donation of £5. All proceeds go to support the work of the Arboretum.

National Memorial Arboretum
Croxall Rd, Alrewas, Burton-on-Trent DE13 7AR
www.thenma.org.uk