Birmingham Greenway

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The Route

Today, I chose to walk the 23 mile Birmingham Greenway. This walk started at Blake Street railway station, North of Sutton Coldfield and finished at Barnt Green, South of the Lickey Hills.

The walk was organised by the LDWA’s Heart of England group and was ably led by Dave Powell.

The, larger than expected, group of 21 assembled outside of Blake Street Station and at a tad after 8:30 we set off.

To get to our first bit of green way, we had to traverse the streets of Hill Hook and Four Oaks before entering Sutton Park via a lesser used gate on Streetly Lane.

Sutton Park covers 2,400 acres, most of which is a National Nature Reserve, and comprises a mix of heathland, marsh and ancient woodland. There are, also, seven lakes within the park.

We made our way, roughly South, through the park on grass, tarmac and the occasional muddy stretch to exit the park at Banners Gate on the A452, Chester Road.

Sutton Park

We were soon back on the green stuff after turning onto a road, aptly named The Greenway.

A green ribbon wound it’s way through New Oscott and Perry Common following a small stream which eventually ran into Witton Lakes.

Witton Lakes

The two Witton Lakes were originally built to supply Birmingham with drinking water and are now a haven for wildlife.

From the lakes, a brook leads to Brookvale Park Lake. We followed the brook and on arrival at said lake, paused for ‘breakfast’ making use of the seating around The Pigeon.

The Pigeon

From Brookvale Park Lake, the brook runs under Spaghetti Junction and empties into the River Tame. We let the brook do it’s own thing as we too meandered under the M6 but we emptied onto the Tame Valley Canal before turning onto a branch of the Grand Union heading towards the City Centre.

Under Spaghetti
After a couple of miles of canal, at Digbeth we waved it goodbye and went all urban for a while navigating through Highgate. Passing the Central Mosque, we roughly followed the River Rea to Cannon Hill Park where we stopped for dinner – 14 miles done.
Din dins
River Rea Walkway

Cannon Hill Park covers 250 acres and was opened to the public in 1873. Part of the park is given over to formal gardens which were originally grown from seeds donated by Kew Gardens.

Cannon Hill Park is home to the weekly parkrun event.

From the park, we followed the River Rea making a short diversion through a small wood, originally the site of a number of clay pits until they were filled in with spoil from Birmingham road building projects. The area has been left to it’s own devices, by and large.

On exiting the wood, the remains of a street (Brockley Grove) are apparent – once the home to a number of pre-fabs.

We left the River Rea Walkway to walk through Stirchley, past Cadbury’s and through Bournville. A series of footpaths took us through Woodlands Park, Valley Parkway and Victoria Common to Northfield.

Passing through the older parts of Northfield we rediscovered the River Rea which was followed to Longbridge.

An uneventful, through the houses, section followed before the great, green expanse of Cofton Park opened up before us.

Resting at Cofton

Here we rested before a short uphill followed by a sharp descent to the foot of the Lickey Hills.

Foot of the Lickey Hills is a clue to what was to come. A steep flight of steps took us up over 100 feet before the path levelled out ( a bit ) taking us to the top of Bilberry Hill at around 800 feet, qualifying it as a Marilyn*.

No-one mentioned Hills

After a short stop at the visitor centre, the route continued, mainly downhill, through bluebell covered woods to Barnt Green station, the end point of our Greenway walk.

The End
At the station we were greeted with some lovely, home-made cake. The scrummy cake finishing off what had been a delightful walk through some of Birmingham’s many green spaces. Thanks to Dave (and Phil) for putting on the Birmingham Greenway walk.
Dave dishing out the cake
Now, just a train ride back to Blake Street to pick up the car.

* A Marilyn is a mountain or hill in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland or Isle of Man with a prominence of at least 150 metres (492 ft), regardless of absolute height or other merit. The name was coined as a punning contrast to the designation Munro, used of a Scottish mountain with a height of more than 3,000 feet (914.4 m), which is homophonous with (Marilyn) Monroe.

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