Top 10 walks in the Midlands and Shropshire

Whether you’re a serious rambler or just want to enjoy a quiet stroll with the family, there are plenty of landmarks to see all over the region.

Top 10 walks in the Midlands and Shropshire

A scenic view from the Clent Hills

Cannock Chase: Difficulty - Medium

Cannock Chase is one of the UK's smallest Areas of Outstanding Beauty, and because of the proximity of large populated areas and rich mineral reserves, it's also one of the most threatened. 'The Chase' was once a medieval royal hunting forest and despite being so close to urban areas it remains surprisingly remote. 

Wild deer still roam the Chase and are a common sight when out walking. Much of the area including heathland, woodland and valley wetland habitats, are protected as Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

The heaths are the largest surviving example of this kind of environment in the Midlands and support some interesting species of wildlife including the nightjar, adders and lizards. The Chase is criss-crossed by many footpaths and bridleways to keep you occupied.

Malvern Hills
A panoramic view from the Malvern Hills

Malvern Hills: Difficulty - Easy/Medium/Hard

Located south of Worcester, the Malvern Hills includes parts of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. Despite its relatively small size there are a wide range of landscapes within this Area of Outstanding Beauty. The rolling hills and fields of Herefordshire are located to the west and the flatter plains of the Severn Valley to the east. 

Much of the drama and beauty of the hills arise from the way they dramatically rise out of the landscape. Another feature to look out for are the many springs and fountains which flow from outlets all around them, so why not fill up your bottles while you’re there. 

This walk is for all abilities whether you enjoy a gentle stroll along a tree-lined path or an energetic trek along the ridge of the Malverns. The scenery is breathtaking so remember to take your camera.

Bewdley to Wyre Forest: Difficulty - Easy/Medium

This walk links two popular tourist destinations - the historic river port settlement of Bewdley and the ancient oak woodland of Wyre, Forest of Discovery. It starts on the banks of Britain's longest river, the Severn. From there, you’re guided up the historic Welch Gate and onto the spectacular Wyre Forest where you will discover a haven for wildlife. 

It’s classed as a National Nature Reserve with forest wildlife species such as hawfinch, fallow deer and long-eared owl to name a few. Just follow the 'Wyre butterfly' symbols and directional arrows along the path and you won't get lost.

Carding Mill Valley
The rushing stream at Carding Mill Valley

Shropshire Hills: Difficulty - Easy/Medium/Hard

The Shropshire Hills consists of a number of areas of hills centered around Church Stretton. The hills are known for their variety, extensive network of paths, and wonderful scenery. The most popular hills are the Long Mynd but others including Wenlock Edge, the Stiperstones and those around Clun are also gaining in popularity. 

The Long Mynd is one of the oldest and most important geological sites in the country. Down in Carding Mill Valley, near Church Stretton there are excellent visitor facilities where you can play in the stream, relax with a picnic or head on an adventure in the hills. 

Whatever your preference, from a short amble to a good long stomp, the paths and open spaces of the Shropshire Hills will take you along river valleys, through pastures, meadows and ancient woodlands, around pretty villages, or over hilltops of rock and heather. Here you can follow the boundaries of the old Mercian kingdom, the footsteps of ancient traders and take in the views from Iron Age hillforts.

Dimmingsdale: Difficulty - Easy/Medium

Magnificent drives built by the Earl of Shrewsbury have been incorporated in the Valley Walk. Visitors to this North Staffordshire beauty spot can stroll where fine carriages once carried gentry. The rolling hills and dramatic sandstone outcrops make a visit to this woodland a delight all year round. 

The terrain is steep in some places but low level strolls around the magnificent pools are popular with most. Spotted and green woodpeckers can sometimes be heard echoing through the valley, buzzards soar above it and pied flycatchers, redstarts and the willow warbler are also residents of this tranquil place. It is also home to tawny and little owls and many more common woodland birds. 

This hidden gem is affectionately known as ‘Little Switzerland’ and ‘Fairy Glen’ and has been described by a priest as being ‘the closest place to heaven’. Some of the land is in private ownership and visitors are asked to respect this.

Sandwell Valley
Sandwell Valley Country Park viewed from the RSPB nature reserve

Sandwell Valley: Difficulty - Easy

An easy walk around an RSPB nature reserve and a fine country park reveals a legacy of agriculture and industry. Situated at the north eastern edge of West Bromwich, Sandwell Valley was once home to a 12th-century Benedictine monastery which stood upon the earlier hermitage.

The park has become a major leisure facility, with three golf courses, walking routes, a Millennium Cycle Route and two off-road cycle paths which have been specially designed for mountain bikes. 

The RSPB have established a nature reserve here and throughout the year there are lapwings, grey herons, kingfishers, skylarks and goldfinches. In the summer months, yellow wagtails, spotted flycatchers, tree pipits and even yellow-tip butterflies may make an appearance. 

Walsall Waterfront: Difficulty - Easy

These walks start along the Wyrley and Essington, and Rushall canals to Park Lime Pits Local Nature Reserve. As you explore the history of the Black Country it becomes clear that Walsall was very much at the heart of the Industrial Revolution in 19th-century Britain. 

Limestone was once mined in the countryside around Walsall, used in the iron foundries and for cement production in the construction of canal buildings. Limestone extraction ceased in the 1920s, but, remains of the canal wharf buildings, pit shafts and pump housings can still be seen and has been reclaimed by nature. 

Over 100 bird species have been recorded in the area including moorhens, coots, mallards and grebes around the clear pools near the reed beds, while bullfinches and buntings inhabit the stubble fields which are specially managed to encourage wildlife. The water quality in the deep pools is so good that freshwater crayfish, endangered elsewhere in the country, flourish here.

Clent Hills: Difficulty - Medium

More people visit the Clent Hills than Worcester Cathedral with three car parks for ease of access. On a clear day it has some of the most breathtaking panoramic views of the Cotswolds, Shropshire Hills and Welsh borders. 

In late April or early May, as well as the vertical grey blocks of the Birmingham city centre, horizontal yellow blocks of modern rural Worcestershire, created by the flowers of oilseed rape are visible. Look out for St Kenelm's Church in Romsley parish where there is supposedly a crypt containing a holy spring.

Kinver: Difficulty - Easy

Kinver is a short walk combining both curious cave dwellings with the best views in Staffordshire. Kinver Edge has tremendous views; however, the real interest lies below the summit, in small houses carved into the rock. Look out for Nanny's Rock, just inside the National Trust boundary, and just off the path. It provides a breathtaking viewpoint and a great place to sit and have a picnic to admire the view.

The most impressive dwellings are at Holy Austin Rock. Legend has it that it was named after a hermit who lived near the site. Visitors can see how occupants would have lived over 100 years ago, and may be surprised at just how cosy they feel. Holy Austin Rock is famous for its sandstone, which was formed from solidified sand dunes in the Permian era, 250 million years ago.

Sutton Park
Powells Pool in Sutton Park

Sutton Park: Difficulty - Medium

Sutton Park is an area of wild and wooded countryside of moorland, meadows, lakes and groves, and is one of the largest urban parks in the country. Although it is now surrounded by residential properties, it remains an important area for Birmingham and the local Sutton Coldfield community. 

It's a valuable space offering a wide range of leisure pursuits whether it be joggers, kite-fliers, cyclists or walkers. However, it is possible to escape from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding towns/cities to find peace and quiet. Look out for Bracebridge Pool which is regarded by many as the most beautiful pool in the park. It was built for Sir Ralph Bracebridge in order to maintain a plentiful supply of fish.

By Jody Ball

What are your favourite walks? Leave your tips in the comments box below...

Add your comment