For many of us lockdown has brought a new perspective on life, the things we enjoy and miss the most, and also the things that make us feel a lot better when times are tough and uncertain.
Many of us realised how important nature and fresh air are to us, and how much they can improve our mood and wellbeing. Luckily for us, Birmingham is bursting at the seams with stunning green spaces to explore.
During this year’s difficult summer, Alex Nicholson-Evans (Commercial Director at Birmingham Museums Trust, and founder of Birmingham Cocktail Weekend) set herself a challenge to visit all of Birmingham’s parks. She wrote the names of all of the parks on slips of paper and put them in a jar – then picked one out at random each time she wanted to get out and about. Inspired by Alex’s mission to discover more of the city (which you can see for yourself on her Instagram page – just head to her Stories highlights), we asked her to compile a list for us of the very best parks in Birmingham.
So put on a cosy jumper, grab your boots, and get ready to enjoy the fresh air – here is Alex’s list of 10 Beautiful Green Spaces In Birmingham You NEED To Explore This Autumn.
At 2400 acres, this is one of the largest urban parks in Europe and a National Nature Reserve. There are multiple entrances to the park, explore a little and you’ll find seven lakes, heathland and features that date back over thousands of years. This has to be one of the very best parks in Birmingham.
Pype Hayes Park
At 100 acres, whilst not to the scale of Sutton, this is still one of the largest parks in Birmingham. You’ll find big open spaces (great for doggos), a lake, woodland, a Grade II listed building (Pype Hayes Hall) and a number of ornamental gardens too.
This park is one of the inspirations for the ancient forests described by JRR Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. You can take a guided walk from nearby Sarehole Mill, or explore the boardwalks with this free Walk Birmingham walk. However you choose to explore this magical part of the Shire Country Park, you’ll find fantastic pizza to refuel with at Sarehole Mill’s Bakehouse.
This was the former estate of Joseph Chamberlain and a beautiful park in any season. There is plenty to explore but don’t miss Highbury Hall – a Grade II listed building (and the former residence of Joseph Chamberlain) on the northern edge of the park.
This park is one of 15 Green Flag Parks in the city, an accolade also awarded to Cannon Hill and the Lickey Hills. The Friends of Cotteridge Park have just opened a new café, The Shed, so why not grab a cuppa whilst you’re there? All profits from the café support park activities, and you can find opening times for The Shed here.
Another Green Flag Park and home to the magnificent Aston Hall. The hall has been the setting for the brilliantly awesome Independent Birmingham Festival for the past couple of years – but Aston Park is a lesser known gem. Explore a little and you’ll find statues, tree-lined avenues and floral displays. If you visit when Aston Hall is open, be sure to explore Lady Holte’s gardens too (and grab a delicious slice of cake in The Stable Yard Café).
This popular Harborne park was once the grounds of Thomas Attwood’s home. Have a wander around the large pond, explore the copse of trees or enjoy the city views. A great picnic spot in summer and a lovely location for a short autumnal stroll.
A list like this wouldn’t be complete without city dwellers’ favourite, ‘The Resi’. The site is actually 70 acres but is, of course, mostly open water. Take the 2.8km route around the reservoir for great views of the water and surrounding woodland. A lesser known fact is that Edgbaston Reservoir is a site of nature conservation and an important home to newts and bats.
The pavilion was opened in 1924 and its grounds are a lovely spot to relax in. The unique selling point for this green space is that it has a bar in it. Yep, you can have a G&T outdoors and enjoy views of the lovely pool and surrounding green space. A simple, off-the-beaten-track spot to meet friends whilst indoor household mixing is banned.
Whilst not quite in Birmingham, this park is just 20 minutes from the City Centre, and so special it’s worth a mention. The Leasowes is a Grade I listed park, ranked up there with landscapes like Blenheim and Stowe. It was designed by poet William Shenstone and is considered to be one of the first natural landscape gardens in England. Explore the 141 acres to find lake views, trickling streams, picnic perfect grassland and woodland paths that take you far away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
If you’re looking for some inspiration to help you explore parts of the city you’ve never visited before, we recommend you choose one of the beautiful parks from the list above – and then get out there and rediscover your city, one glorious green space at a time. We’d like to say a huge thank you to Alex Nicholson-Evans for the photos and words for this article, and we hope her mission to discover more of this magical city inspires you to get out there and discover Birmingham’s hidden gems too!
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