The Most Beautiful Country Walks in and Around Birmingham, England

Cannon Hill Park, in Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands.
Cannon Hill Park, in Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands. | © Images of Birmingham Premium / Alamy
Photo of Richard Franks
Freelance Travel & Music Writer6 May 2021

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.

Earlswood Lakes

Natural Feature
Map View
T0F2MB A heron and a duck amongst plants at Earlswood Lakes
© Adam Evans / Alamy
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.

Lickey Hills Country Park

Park
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2DA6PPT Walkers surrounded by autumnal colors at Lickey Hills Country Park, Birmingham.
© Jacob King / PA Images / Alamy
Pack your Thermos flask and drive for 10 miles south-west of Birmingham: Lickey Hills Country Park is picnic-perfect, a canvas of woodland, heathland and grassland that spreads over several hundred acres. It’s criss-crossed with much-loved marked trails, which include sculpture and geology walks. (Grab leaflets from the visitor centre, where park rangers can give you a steer, too.) Lickey Hills culminates in the summit of Beacon Hill, which has stunning views of the city and neighbouring counties.

Clent Hills

Natural Feature
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TR9MT2 Natural beauty of The Clent Hills, Worcestershire, England
© Steve O'Prey / Alamy
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.

Sandwell Valley Country Park

Park
Map View
Man and child looking at Barn Owl at the Black Country Living Wildlife Roadshow, Sandwell Park Farm, West Bromwich, West Midlands, August 2011.  Did you know? Although owls have excellent night vision, their primary hunting sense is super-sensitive hearin
EG60YJ Man and child looking at Barn Owl at the Black Country Living Wildlife Roadshow, Sandwell Park Farm, West Bromwich, West Midlands, August 2011. Did you know? Although owls have excellent night vision, their primary hunting sense is super-sensitive hearing. | © Paul Harris / 2020VISION / Nature Picture Library / Alamy
Next time your lungs need a spring clean, make for this idyllic bucolic retreat covering 600 acres (240ha) in the heart of the West Midlands. The country park is perfect for all fitness levels: you’ve a choice of surfaced pathways for easier rambles and natural areas that plunge you into yomp-worthy countryside. It’s packed with activities for family days out. Highlights include an adventure park with climbing nets, a rope bridge and a tower with a slide. More tranquil are the pools and streams you can picnic by, and the weekly health walks laid on, starting from Sandwell Park Farm.

Moseley Bog Nature Reserve

Forest
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Heritage Lottery Fund for Moseley bog
GCE1R6 Heritage Lottery Fund for Moseley bog | © David Jones / PA Images / Alamy
You read it here first (well, we like to think you did): the atmospheric forest surrounds of Moseley Bog in southern Birmingham provided JRR Tolkien with inspiration for his books The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The author lived a matter of minutes from this green Eden during his formative years at the end of the 19th century. There’s certainly something fairytale, even folkloric, about an afternoon scrunching about in the woodland where once a millpond was located. Ask passers-by if they can point you to the two burnt mounds, which go as far back as the Bronze Age.

Sheldon Country Park

Church, Park
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Sheldon-Country-Park_JGHE3M
© Helen Hotson / Alamy
If you go down to the woods today — at least, if you head to Sheldon Country Park — you’ll find plenty of animal magic. Here, Old Rectory Farm is a barnstormer of ponies, goats, pigs and velvety Jersey cows creating heaven for kids, who’ll love the demonstrations of traditional farming methods. All the rustic emblems are in place: hedgerows and grassy expanses, rustling woodland and walking trails. However, this is not pure unadulterated wilderness: due to its proximity to Birmingham International Airport, the park also has a viewing area for keen plane spotters.

Tardebigge Canal Circular Walk

Hiking Trail
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W1KNB5 The Tardebigge flight of locks on the Worcester and Birmingham canal, Worcestershire, England, UK
© paul weston / Alamy
Welcome to the longest flight of locks in Britain – two score and 10 more, which help make a wonderful round-trip walk. First, the history bit: the canal of which this stretch is part was dug two centuries ago to transport porcelain and Cadbury’s chocolate between Birmingham and Worcester. So far so urban. But the countryside it passes through is pulse-slowingly beautiful today. Starting at the historic Saint Bartholomew’s Church, the five-mile route takes in picturesque farms and, conveniently enough, a wonderful pub for a pit stop when your feet are crying out for a chair and your tongue is gasping for a lager and lime.

Woodgate Valley Country Park

Park
Map View
J7K0F2 Horses Grazing in Woodgate Valley Country Park
© Ket Sang Tai / Alamy
Unfurling across 450 heart-stirring acres of countryside, Woodgate Valley is a secret stunner all but overshadowed by busy Birmingham, south of which it lies. But great days out are guaranteed, whether you’re eight or 80: strike out on one of the several walking routes, ranging from one to five miles (all capabilities are catered for). Butterflies flit on summer days and wildflowers bloom in spring. Bring lunch — the park connects to hay meadows and an oak-regeneration area.

Edgbaston Reservoir

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature
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C7BFYH Low water levels at Edgbaston Reservoir
© Nick Maslen / Alamy
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.

Cannon Hill Park

Park
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MTADKY Red Panda in Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park
© David Plimmer / Alamy
There’s more than enough at this sprawling, 80-hectare park to keep you busy for a whole weekend. As well as a huge swathe of woodland planted with handsome mature trees to picnic beneath, there are charming formal gardens and a fun park for little ones, with a Ferris wheel and toddler-suitable rollercoasters. For your bigger kids, there’s a 36-hole mini golf course, swan-shaped paddle boats to take out on the pond, and the Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park, where you can say hello to the resident population of birds, reptiles and monkeys.

Waseley Hills Country Park

Park, Hiking Trail
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CYT6GA Summertime on Waseley Hills Country Park, Worcestershire, England, UK
© paul weston / Alamy
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.

These recommendations were updated on May 6, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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