This beautiful 10km (6.5mile) circular walk takes you along the leafy roads of Edgbaston and the historic Calthorpe Estate, along canal towpaths, past beautiful red brick buildings at the University, Michelin star dining and a multitude of Grade II listed buildings!
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Please note this walk is on good quality paths or pavements but does include sections of steps to and from the canal towpaths. Not all sections of canal towpath are lit at night so best to do the walk during the day time. You will also find mentioned small alternative, step-free routes if you are wishing to cycle this route rather than walk it.
Start the walk at Brindley place, by the Costa coffee shop at the centre of Brindley Place.
Looking towards the East, head towards Cafe Rouge, passing it on your left, then head down the steps onto the canal towpath. For an alternative step-free start, follow the dotted line around the back of the Sealife Centre.
Turn right at the bottom of the steps and carry along, underneath the bridge that has Broad Street above, heading towards the Mailbox. Keep following the canal towpath and when you see a metal bridge rising straight ahead over to the Mailbox (map point 1), don’t go onto this bridge but follow the canal towpath round to the right and keep following the canal heading away from the main buildings.
Pass underneath two bridges/underpasses and at the third one come up at the steps on the far side of the bridge (map point 2) that will bring you out by Five Ways Railway Station (where you can also start this walk). If you are cycling, there are rails to push your bike up these steps to make it easier than carrying!
Turn right at the top of the stairs (the train station is to the left at the top of the stairs) and then right again at the road junction onto Wheeleys Road. Numbers 22 and 23 Wheeley’s Road are Grade II listed.
You are now in the historic Calthorpe Estate area. Edgbaston was first mentioned in the Domesday Book where it was given a value of 30 shillings. At that time, it was a small hamlet centred on the sites of what are now Edgbaston Hall and the Old Church. The heritage value of the Estate has been recognised by the fact that approximately one third of all the Listed Buildings in the City of Birmingham are situated on the Calthorpe Estate. Currently, the Estate extends to approximately 1,500 acres which, to put it in a context which a wider audience would understand, is around seven times the size of the Grosvenor Estate in central London. As the First Lord Calthorpe, Henry Gough Calthorpe had hoped and intended, there is still no industry on the Calthorpe Estate and that, coupled with nearly 300 years of single family ownership and careful estate management, has probably been the secret of its success as such an attractive place to live and work.
Walk a short distance along Wheeleys Road then cross over to take the first left up Yew Tree Road (map point 3). There are some lovely houses around this section of Edgbaston and along this road is no exception! Numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,9, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 Yew Tree Road are all Grade II listed buildings. Walk to the end of Yew Tree Road and turn right onto Elvetham Road.
Walk along Elvetham Road until you reach a crossroads with Charlotte Road and turn left to walk along Charlotte Road (map point 4). Grade II listed buildings along Charlotte Road include numbers 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56 and the church of St James (now luxury apartments). As you walk along Charlotte Road, take the second road on the right into Gough Road (map point 5) and walk along Gough Road to the end. Grade II listed buildings along Gough Road include numbers 97, 101, 103, 104, 105, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 119, 120, 122, 124, 126, 128
At the end of Gough Road turn left onto Carpenter Road. Grade II listed buildings on this road include numbers 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 18, 32, 35, 36, 46, 49, 50 and 51.
Walk along Carpenter Road to the end and turn right onto Wellington Road (map point 6). Wellington Road is another road with beautiful houses, amongst the Grade II listed ones being 7, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 25a, 26, 34, 35, 43, 44, 45, 49, 50, 54, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 73, 74, 76, 77, 78 and 79.
Walk up Wellington Road until you come to an opening/crossroads where you can see Sir Harry’s Road on your left (walk down here to take the Moseley Walk), a roundabout a bit further ahead straight on, and Ampton Road on your right. You will need to turn right into Ampton Road.
Ampton Road continues the leafy historic nature of this area, and more Grade II listed buildings along Ampton Road include numbers 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 17 and 18. Walk along Ampton Road until you come to a crossroads with Arthur Road. Turn left here onto Arthur Road and continue up to the crossroads with the traffic lights (map point 7).
Across on the left is Edgbaston Old Church. Cross straight over at these traffic lights (be careful as there isn’t a separate pedestrian timing at these lights) to continue down the hill into Edgbaston Park Road.
On your left hand side as you walk down here is Edgbaston Golf Club. The ‘manor’ of Edgbaston (of five square miles), mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, was purchased by Sir Richard Gough for £20,400 in 1717. This begins the connection between Edgbaston and his family which survives to the present day. One can safely say that the Club is very unusual in its very close proximity to the centre of a city the size of Birmingham. From 1783, the Hall was rented out for the next 150 years to a succession of well known Birmingham citizens, none more so than Dr William Withering who is best remembered for discovering that an extract of dried foxglove (the plant is still in evidence by the stream at the 17th tee) called digitalis could be used to treat dropsy and is still in use today for a certain type of heart treatment. During World War II, the building was requisitioned by the War Office – the apocryphal rationale being that if a typical Birmingham resident did not know of the Hall’s existence, then there was less chance of the Luftwaffe finding it! Of particular interest, the cellars were used for initial research into the atomic bomb by a team headed up by Professor Zuckerman from Birmingham University.
As you continue your walk along Edgbaston Park Road, at the bottom of the dip and on your right you will see the lovely grounds of one of the University of Birmingham’s student villages, The Vale (map point 8). Take a detour here to wander around the lake and see the ducks if you wish!
Continuing along Edgbaston Park Road, it bends to the left and you start to go uphill, keep following this road through leafy Edgbaston. Depending on the time of year, you may be sharing the pavement with hundreds of students making their way to lectures!
Further along the road you will come to Winterbourne House and Botanical Gardens on the left hand side of the road (map point 9). Restored to its Edwardian Arts and Craft splendour, Winterbourne House is a unique heritage attraction – set within seven acres of beautiful botanic gardens. Only minutes from Birmingham city centre, Winterbourne is a hidden gem – home to beautiful antiques and over 6,000 plant species from around the world. Wander along the woodland walk, stroll through the hazelnut tunnel, cross the 1930’s Japanese Bridge or simply soak up the tranquillity of this perfectly English Edwardian home. Also a great place to stop for afternoon tea in the cafe! For more details see http://www.winterbourne.org.uk/
Back on Edgbaston Park Road and continue onwards still until you reach the main University of Birmingham campus. Your first port of call here should be the wonderful Barber Institute of Fine Arts (map point 10). Monet, Manet and Magritte; Renoir, Rubens, Rossetti and Rodin; Degas, Delacroix and Van Dyck – as well as Botticelli, Poussin, Turner, Gainsborough, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Bellows, Hodgkin and Auerbach. You can see key works by all these- and many more- great artists in the galleries at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts for free. Housed in a Grade II listed Art Deco building the Barber holds one of the most outstanding and internationally significant collections assembled in Britain during the 20th Century. No wonder that it has been described as ‘one of the finest small art galleries in Europe’. See more at http://barber.org.uk/
As you exit the Barber Institute steps, turn right at the bottom of the steps, then right again to go around the building heading into the main part of the University. You will come to the main semi-circle of red brick buildings at the heart of the campus (map point 11). The University grew out of the radical vision of its first Chancellor, Joseph Chamberlain. Founded in 1900, Birmingham represented a new model for higher education. This was England’s first civic university, where students from all religions and backgrounds were accepted on an equal basis.
Take a stroll around this semi circle to the other side then follow the signs towards the University Rail Station (essentially head left at the far end of the semi circle then keep going straight on). Just before the entrance to the University train station you will see some steps down on your right onto the canal (map point 12). Go down these steps and go straight ahead along the canal towpath (with the canal on your right hand side so you are heading back into the city). There are rails for your bike down these steps so you don’t have to carry it!
Follow the towpath enjoying the peace and tranquility so close to the centre of such a major city, until you see a brick hump back pedestrian bridge back over the canal (map point 13).
Take the ramp or steps over this bridge coming out into a different part of The Vale University of Birmingham student village you saw earlier in the walk. The lake we mentioned earlier is down to your right when you come off the bridge, but instead head straight ahead and then up the road to your left, heading towards the left hand side of the tall residential Chamberlain Tower. Come out of The Vale grounds here onto the main road (Church Road) and turn left along this road (map point 14).
Keep following this road until you come to St George’s church in the centre of a roundabout ahead of you (map point 15). This roundabout is becoming a bit of a foodies destination – with a Michelin starred restaurant, bistro pubs, brunch cafes and a cocktail bar all on or just off this roundabout! Birmingham is itself a real foodie hotspot with four Michelin star restaurants – more than any other English city except London. Take a walk to the other Michelin star restaurants of Birmingham in our Moseley and City Centre walks!
Keep walking straight along Church Road with St George’s church on your left, then cross over at the pedestrian lights to head up Highfield Road to the junction with Harborne Road (map point 16).
Turn right onto Harborne Road (map point 16) and follow this along to Five Ways Island (map point 17), passing several restaurants, home interiors stores and Morrisons supermarket and the Swallow hotel at the end of the road near the large roundabout.
Take the underpass into the centre of the roundabout (map point 17) and out the other side to walk back along Broad Street, one of the main night-time entertainment hubs of Birmingham, until you reach Brindley Place on your left hand side as you pass over the canal and back to the start of this walk!
Overview of Route:
Map details © OpenStreetMap contributors