RambAle 7: Worcester and Birmingham Canal

route7Distance: 7¾ miles/12½ km. Allow 3 hours (excluding pub stops).

Starting and finishing venue: Hopwood House, Hopwood, B48 7AB.

This walk features the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, and passes through the villages of Barnt Green and Alvechurch. There are some small inclines but on the whole the paths are fairly easy going.

Bear east onto the small road that runs behind the pub and alongside the canal. Continue onto the canal’s towpath and follow the canal as it bends to the left and bears south-east. When you reach the first bridge (bridge 66), use it to cross the canal and enter a farm yard. Follow the main track through the farmyard which bends right then left, then climbs a small slope alongside some abandoned vehicles. Cross the gate at the end, then turn left onto Bittell Farm Road. Continue west on this road, passing Lower Bittell Reservoir on your left and the northern point of the River Arrow on your right. As the road turns left, continue into the field in front of you then bear south-west directly across the field. Continue through the second field alongside the hedgerow, then pass through the kissing gate and into an orchard. Remain on a south-west bearing, passing through a gap in the hedge at the end and emerging onto the grounds of Barnt Green Sports and Social Club. Join the road and turn south-west onto Margesson Drive, then turn right onto the main road. Continue straight across the mini-roundabout and under the railway bridge, and the Barnt Green Inn will be ahead of you on your left. This large timber pub serves up to three real ales and an all-day menu.

DSCF0128Walk past the pub then turn left and walk up Cherry Hill Road, passing Barnt Green Cricket Club. As your near the top, look for a footpath on your left bearing south-east. Continue left down this hill to the main road, then enter the railway station and use the bridge to cross the platforms to reach the car park. Follow the road as it bears to the right and heads downhill, then when you reach the T-junction turn right onto Hewell Road. Continue south on this road and the Victoria Inn will be on your left, which serves up to three real ales including some unusual guests.

Continue south on Hewell Road, passing underneath the railway bridge. As the road bends to the right, look for the scout hut on your left. Just before the scout hut is a trail bearing south through a corridor and ending in a field. Continue south and cross the field, but it’s worth stopping at the top to admire a good view of Cofton directly behind you. Cross the motorway bridge then bear south-east alongside the field beyond until you reach the lane. Bear south-east on Foxhill Lane, then just after the first building on your left, turn left and follow the footpath east alongside the bricked wall. The trail will descend through two fields then will bear north-east through a further field before adjourning onto a lane. Continue down the hill to find the Crown Inn, a cosy lounge-style pub that serves lunches and dinners and also features up to three real ales.

DSCF0132Bear north-east on Withybed lane, then after crossing the canal turn right and follow the canal’s towpath. The canal will bear south through a number of bends before reaching the next canal bridge. Here, re-join the road and use the bridge to cross the canal to find the Weighbridge on your left, a freehouse pub serving up to five real ales, a real cider and also serves food at lunchtime and evenings.

Head east on Scarfield Hill, crossing the canal and rail bridges to merge onto Station Road. Follow this road as it bends to the north, then bear right onto School Lane. Follow the driveway into the grounds of St. Laurence Church and continue to bear north towards the church’s extension building. Once you reach this building, bear north-west down the slope to the main road, then turn right onto Bear Hill. Continue north-east on this road until you reach Alvechurch Village Hall, then continue following the footpath downhill through the alleyway. At the main road turn left, and head north on Red Lion street until you see the Red Lion on your left. This Vintage Inns pub is popular with diners and serves up to three real ales.

DSCF0134Continue north-west on Red Lion Street, then at the mini roundabout, turn left onto Tanyard Lane. Bear west on this road as it merges onto Callow Hill Road, then slowly bears north-west up the hill to the canal bridge. Here, turn right to re-join the canal’s towpath, then bear east alongside the canal. At the bend, continue to follow the towpath as it bears north and passes under the motorway. After a short while you will re-pass the Lower Bittell Reservoir on your left as the towpath bears north-east back to the Hopwood House. This Marstons pub serves up to four real ales and an all-day food menu.