Birmingham may be a built-up city, but it is one of the greenest cities in Europe, with over 600 parks and green spaces across the city. There are plenty of countryside walks to enjoy, especially hiking routes if you’re up for the adventure. There is a wide range of areas you can escape to from Birmingham city centre, to relax and breathe in some fresh countryside air. If you are new to hiking, many of these routes are for beginners and can be shortened depending on how far you want to walk.
Most importantly, hiking improves mental health and tones muscles, improving your overall health. This guide will take you through some of the popular hiking routes and parks to walk around in Birmingham. Some of the hikes are places in Birmingham specifically, however, a few of them involve areas close to the city, to ensure a rich variety of hikes you can take no matter your ability; this guide will include short and long hikes to cater to all. Whether you’re from Birmingham or further away, it is worth a visit to the city to explore Birmingham’s hiking trails.
Distance: 1.5 miles – 8 miles
Time: 30 minutes – 3 hours
Lickey Hills is one of Birmingham’s most treasured country parks, with a coverage of 524 acres. While some people may visit for family days out or to just enjoy the views, it is also a popular spot for hiking in Birmingham. There are several walking trails you can do at Lickey Hills but the circular walk is one of the most popular trails which begins and ends at the Visitor Centre. This hike is 1.5 miles long and is ideal for beginners.
If you have good fitness levels and want to try an intermediate hike, then there is a route from Longbridge to Lickey Hills Visitor Centre that has accessible paths. However, if you fancy a shorter walk in Birmingham, which is more than the 1.5-mile circular walk but isn’t as treacherous as the intermediate hike, then there is a Barnt Green Lickey Hills walk that is 4 miles long and takes you through the beautiful countryside around the village. The top of Lickey Hills is a great spot for a picnic mid-hike too and offers views over the city.
Woodgate Valley Country Park
Time: 30 minutes – 1 hour 45 minutes
There are 8 miles of path to walk down at Woodgate Valley, along with 450 acres of park. The country park offers several routes you can take, depending on how many miles you want to cover. The Green Route is 1 mile long and is a sensible route if you are with family, or want a steady hike. The Red Route is a 2-mile walk and the Yellow Route is 2.5 miles. For those who want a challenge, you can do a 5-mile walk through the countryside to Waseley Hills Country Park, from Woodgate Valley.
Having been to Woodgate Valley Country Park a couple of times, I would recommend wearing sensible footwear as the path can get boggy during the winter months. It is a very peaceful walk and if you walk along the Bournbrook path to get to the country park itself, this helps adds some miles onto your hike too.
Sandwell Valley Country Park
Distance: 3-4 miles
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
With 660 acres to walk around, Sandwell Valley Country Park provides ample space to ramble or just to simply walk with your family or dog. Sandwell Valley contains woods, farmland, pools, and streams to enjoy and the footpaths are accessible for all; many have been left as natural tracks.
The Forge Mill Circular Trail is one of the more popular hikes in Birmingham that follows a 3-mile route that takes an average of 1 hour and 12 minutes to complete. While it is considered a moderately challenging route, it is accessible and a quiet route to take for a relaxing hike.
There are also three weekly health walks that the park organises, for those who don’t want to walk alone. They start from Sandwell Park Farm at 10:30am on Tuesday and Thursday and from RSPB Sandwell Valley at 10:30am on Friday.
Distance: 3 miles
Time: 1 hour
Just 6 miles north of Birmingham city centre, Sutton Park is a great place for a hike near Birmingham. With 2400 acres of wild country, Sutton Park is one of the largest urban parks in Europe and is a national nature reserve.
Spring is the perfect time to visit the park; the best route is the 2.5-mile Bridges Walk around Barcebridge and Little Bracebridge pools. The route starts next to the Boathouse Restaurant at the car park. You walk through the woodland of Pool Hollies, before coming to a series of wooden plank bridges that cross the drainage channels with the lake to the left. If you follow the path to the right where there is a bench (an ideal picnic spot), you will encounter the Little Bracebridge pool. A tunnel and then a bridge will take you over the railway before you walk around the edge of Bracebridge Pool back through some woodland before reaching the end of the hike.
Beacon Hill Toposcope
Distance: 2-7 miles
Time: 45 minutes – 3 hours
Beacon Hill has magnificent views across the countryside and Birmingham. Connected to the Lickey Hills Country Park, this Birmingham walk offers a chance to explore the castle and toposcope that was reconstructed in 1988 to mark the centenary of the country park. This is perfect for people interested in history and hiking.
There are easy hikes to do from Lickey Hills Visitor Centre which takes 2.5 miles or if you walk from the South or North car park, the walk will be 5.9-6.6 miles, taking around 2.5-3 hours to complete if you stop for breaks on your way round.
Waseley Hills Country Park
Distance: 6 miles
Time: 2.5 hours
Waseley Hills Country Park is a large country park with grassland and small woodland areas. Like many places for hiking in Birmingham, Waseley Hills provides great views across Worcestershire and Birmingham.
There are a range of hiking trails you can do here, from a 3.4km circular trail which on average takes 52 minutes to complete. If you’re feeling more adventurous, there is a 6-mile walk from Halesowen which takes 2.5 hours to complete. This trail is great for those who love hiking, especially going in a larger group.
Cannon Hill Park
Distance: 3 miles
Time: 1 hour
Cannon Hill is one of my favourite parks to hike in Birmingham. The lake is gorgeous to walk around, adorned with benches at the side, and you can even hire a swan boat to peddle around the lake. Green space is not limited here either with a huge park area with bright flowers and shady tree spots for picnics. I’ve walked many different routes around the park but the simple circular route is the best one to go for.
If you start at the car park and walk across the bridge, you can head towards the lake and loop around. If you want to extend the walk, you can keep going past the lake and head down a path into some woodland area. Heading back towards the lake, you can carry on towards the golf course to loop around some more green space. On average this Birmingham walk takes 3 miles, but you can shorten it or make it longer depending on which paths you take.
Distance: 1.7 miles
Time: 35 minutes
Another one of my favourite spots for hiking in Birmingham is Edgbaston Reservoir. Every Saturday there is a 5k Parkrun here which is great for intermediate runners. The 70-acre open water is nothing short of picturesque and is surrounded by woodland and grassland. Visitors of the reservoir can enjoy a 1.7-mile walk around the edge of the reservoir, although this walk can be made longer if you do multiple laps around.
Shire Country Park
Distance: 3-4 miles
Time: 1 hour – 1 hour 20 minutes
South of Birmingham city centre, The Shire Country Park is a local nature reserve in Moseley. The park follows the River Cole Valley for four miles and you can also cross one of the few remaining fords in the city. Wetlands, grasslands, woodland, and heaths are all found in this country park.
There is a 5 km walking route you can take that starts at Sarehole Mill, where you will find one of Birmingham’s last two working watermills. You will encounter a river, playing friends, and a bridge, as well as meadows near the end too. The walk is a circular route, so you will end up back at Sarehole Mill.
Distance: 10 miles
Time: 3+ hours
While the Malvern Hills isn’t a Birmingham walk, they do offer a hike near Birmingham. They divide the English countryside of Herefordshire and Worcestershire and offer beautiful walking terrain and panoramic views across the Severn Valley. It is a very popular destination for walkers and ramblers.
What’s great about Malvern Hills is that you can make your walk as long or short as you want. You can do a 3-mile walk across one or two of the hills and circle back around, which is what I usually do, or you can challenge yourself to go across all 15 hills that collectively make the Malverns. If you don’t want to hike up each hill, you can do the 9-mile route where you can bypass the hills but still get stunning views of the valley below. This walk can get busy, especially in the nicer weather, so be prepared for a slower walk and pack plenty of water with you too.
Conclusion: Hiking in Birmingham
As you can see in this guide, there are a wide variety of hikes you can do across the city and places near Birmingham too. History is everywhere in these Birmingham walks and they offer a place to learn more about the city as well as build up some exercise and complete a challenge too. The hills and countryside parks offer extensive views of the city, a chance to see Birmingham in all its glory from a distance, or to see a new angle of the city.
From Lickey Hills to Cannon Hill, hiking in Birmingham will never fail to disappoint; there is always somewhere new to explore, and keep your hiking trails exciting. Just remember to check the trails before to avoid getting lost, pack plenty of food and drink, and remember to check the weather before your adventure! And if you want more insight into visiting Birmingham, check out our safety in Birmingham guide.
By Cara-Louise Scott
Cara-Louise Scott is a student journalist currently living in Birmingham. Having recently finished her undergraduate degree, she regularly writes for her student paper and Empoword, and has a passion for all things travel, food and books. She is due to begin her NCTJ course in the Autumn to become a qualified journalist.