We love Birmingham, in the former industrial West Midlands, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s one big, busy city. Yet it’s surrounded by some of the most stirring countryside Britain has to offer, from country parks to undulating hills. Need a breather? Here’s our pick of the most beautiful rustic walks.
Not far from Solihull, surrounded by woodlands busy with wildlife, the three reservoirs of Earlswood Lakes radiate prettiness. A casual stroll will take you past Terry’s Pool, where wild otters and turtles dive in the still depths. You’ll also pass Clowes Wood, composed of wet meadows and heathland, where bluebells and lily of the valley blossom and red foxes as well as badgers prowl. The trail is near the Stratford-upon-Avon canal, if you’d like to extend your waterside walk.
Taking in panoramic views across the Cotswolds, Welsh Borders and Shropshire Hills, as you wander the undulating range of the Clent Hills, you’ll forget you’re mere miles away from Birmingham city centre. Cared for by the National Trust, it has a big draw in the endless cat’s cradle of footpaths, taking you to attractions as diverse as carpets of bluebells in spring and the Four Stones Megalithic Folly (fake standing stones at the summit of Clent Hill). Part of the ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, the range is home to an Iron-Age hill fort, which you can find on Wychbury Hill.
A short walk from the city centre, this large reservoir is an idyllic spot for a sunny, breezy stroll. It’s also where you’ll find regulars rolling up to get onto the water on the weekend: there’s plenty of room for rowing, sailing, windsurfing and kayaking. A narrow footpath skirts the water and you can follow it for around three kilometres, past the ends of leafy suburban gardens, and shady areas of grass perfect for picnicking. The area is an important site of nature conservation, too, so look out for newts and bats at dusk.
Half an hour’s drive south-west of the centre, this large, lush park feels like a proper slice of countryside. Draped across a landscape of rolling hills and valleys, it is an idyll of bluebell-carpeted woodlands in spring, wide-open fields speckled with wildflowers, and shaded ponds teeming with wildlife. There’s also an adventure playground, complete with tyre swings, climbing frames and slides. With picnic benches nearby you can keep an eye on the kids while tucking into your cheese and pickle sandwiches.
Alex Allen contributed additional reporting to this article.
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