If you are looking to discover some new parts of the city, Birmingham Museums Trust’s new book “Walk Birmingham” could be for you. The book features 20 walks that will not just take you on a walk through different areas of the city, but also will take you on a walk through time. It was launched yesterday at Sarehole Mill and along with some of the volunteers that tested the routes, the team from Birmingham Museums Trust, a few guests and the beautiful Mara (pictured below), we took a guided walk by the book’s writers along the route that goes around the mill and along the river Cole.
The book’s writers are Mike Hodder and Sue Whitehouse. We managed to chat with Mike, seen below, as he led the tour and discovered that a lot of his knowledge comes from the fact he has been the council archaeologist in both Birmingham and Sandwell working in the planning department. He shares his wealth of local historical knowledge in this book, so you’re bound to learn something while enjoying the walks themselves. If you’re wondering what being the city archeologist entails – you’ll find the answer here.
On the walks you’ll see evidence of Birmingham’s long and fascinating history, from Bronze Age burnt mounds to medieval churches, moated manors, industrial heritage and more modern buildings. Yesterday’s route for example included Sarehole Mill who’s current buildings date from the 18th century although there has been a mill on the site since the 16th century and so some of the associated watercourses on the route are over 300 years old, remnants of medieval ploughing and the post-war Wake Green prefabs (seen below).
There are walks all over the city that are incredibly diverse in the type of things you’ll see, including Digbeth, King’s Norton, Sutton Coldfield centre, Harborne, Longbridge, New Hall Valley, Sheldon, Sutton Park, Handsworth, and Gannow Green. There are also walks which start/end at Birmingham Museums Trust sites imcluding Soho House, Blakesley Hall, Aston Hall, Weoly Castle and Sarehole Mill of course. There’s even one that takes in the city centre where you’ll learn all about medieval Birmingham. Many of the walks involve walking through natural landscapes and so you’re almost certain to see plenty of flora and fauna – we were lucky enough to even spot a heron on our walk along the river Cole.
All the walks can be reached by public transport and many have cafes near the start / end – all of which are detailed in the book along with the walk’s length, parking, how long it’ll take you (minus stops to take photos of course) details of the terrain and if it’s dog friendly or not. The walks have all been quadruple-tested by volunteers, so you shouldn’t get lost!
As well as encouraging people to learn more about the history of Birmingham and discovering new places, a key aim of the book is to encourage people to get active. Each walk provides an estimated step count and this ranges from 2,200 steps (the 0.78 walk at Moseley Bog) to 8,000 steps (the 3.36 mile walk at Perry and Hamstead).
The development of the book was funded by LoveBrum. All profits will go towards the care of Birmingham’s unique collection and the delivery of their education programme. Also involved in the book was Tom Woolley who provided the illustrations, and Alex Nicholson-Evans and Verity Milligan who contributed images alongside the writers.
Pick up a copy for £9.99 from any Birmingham Museums Trust site with a shop (BMAG, Aston Hall, Sarehole Mill, Blakesley Hall, ThinkTank, the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, and Soho House) or online . Don’t forget to use #igersbirmingham and tag @Birmingham_Mag as we’re sure they’d love to see your photos from the walks.
We will be running an instameet along the Perry and Hamstead walk on July 20th at 10am. To attend, just follow this link and reserve your space. If you have never been on an instameet then this article explains what one is in more depth – basically it’s an informal walk with the aim of taking photos and chatting with others along the way. You can use any kind of camera (including phones) and be of any level.
Words and images by Beth Astington