Sitting pretty just a few miles south of Wolverhampton is Wombourne, a village with clear medieval roots. Wombourne was Anglo-Saxon owned and predominantly an agricultural village, but now it’s a far cry from that. On a summer’s day, a walk down the Staffordshire and Warwickshire canal is a must, as is passing The Bratch, a former industrial hamlet.
The birthplace of world-renowned folk musician Nick Drake, Tanworth-in-Arden is a village with a rich history behind it. This picturesque part of the country may only have a population of approximately 3,000, but it sees intrepid explorers flock here in search of country pubs, walking trails and festivals not too far from the city, while Packwood House, a 16th-century country house and gardens, is worth the trip here alone.
Nestled in the centre of the country just a few miles north of Stratford-upon-Avon is Henley-in-Arden, a ‘medieval town with great traditions’. While most families have accidentally stumbled upon this town en route to Stratford or Birmingham, they’ll have been pleasantly surprised by its selection of quaint pubs, boutiques and, of course, the famous Henley Ice Cream. Henley-in-Arden’s mile-long high street is a local conservation area and consists of over 150 buildings listed as being of special architectural or historical interest.
Not to be confused with the Scottish village of the same name, Wishaw boasts one of the most tranquil areas of the region – mostly thanks to its mere population of just 125. Though most people visit Wishaw for its famous countryside pub The Cock Inn, the famous Belfry Hotel & Resort is also popular with locals and celebrities alike, while the popular Kingsbury Water Park – with 15 lakes winding their way across 600 acres of land – is not too far away either.
This place needs little introduction, but it’s one of the most historic of the lot. Proudly the birthplace of the world’s finest bard, William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon has rows of well-kept Tudor-framed houses, a pub dating back as far as the 14th century, the Royal Shakespeare Company for a spot of theatre and, of course, the River Avon for romantic boat rides. We dare you to get bored here.
Lying in north-east Worcestershire, Alvechurch sits just south of the bustling town of Bromsgrove and is easily accessible from Birmingham. One of the more overlooked areas of the West Midlands, mostly down to its proximity to Barnt Green, has pubs, canals perfect for summer walks and Alvechurch Marina, which pulls in narrowboat owners by the ton. If you like what you see so much that you fancy moving here, there are plenty of cosy cottages which date back well over 200 years in the heart of Alvechurch.
With a modest population of around 2,600, Clent is another of the region’s smallest towns. No visit to Clent would be complete without a trip to The National Trust’s Clent Hills, perfect for family walks and panoramic views of Birmingham, while its bright carpets of bluebells and its pinnacle, the Four Stones, are a sight to behold. Don’t miss out on a trip to The Fountain either; it’s a wonderful country pub with a welcoming atmosphere.
Water, wildlife and walking fans in the West Midlands should definitely put Earlswood on their lists. Situated just south of Solihull and centralised by its famous Earlswood Lakes – a trio of 22-acre reservoirs – visitors will be able to take in the stunning scenery, partake in a spot of fishing and maybe even spot a rare woodpecker. When you’re done nature spotting, there are a number of country pubs for the adults and a craft centre to keep the kids busy.
Last but not least, Kinver is a large Staffordshire village that boasts a lot of history. Situated just a few minutes’ drive from Stourbridge, Kinver is one of those chocolate-box villages you need to visit at least once. Kinver’s most popular visitor attraction is Kinver Edge – a National Trust-owned, 300-acre site. In addition to the fantastic views from its summit, Kinver Edge’s tall woodland ridge also boasts some tremendous sandstone rock houses, which were actually inhabited up until the 1950s.