The leaves are starting to turn and these walks will show you nature doing its thing.
These autumn walks less than an hour away from Birmingham make for great additions to your weekend to-do list and a lovely escapism from city life.
1. Coughton Court and Kinwarton Dovecote
Starting at Coughton Court, this gentle walk passes through the Warwickshire countryside via Kinwarton Dovecote, a rare survival of a 14th-century dovecote. If you’re looking for a reasonably long walk, this 8-mile circular route located past Redditch and towards Alcester should do the trick. Passing the 16th-century gatehouse of Coughton Court the route then takes you past a number of old churches leading to a farm.
Around halfway through the route, you can pop into Kinwarton Dovecote which has metre thick walls, hundreds of nesting holes and its original rotating ladder. It is the only relic of a moated grange once belonging to the Abbey of Evesham. Only the Lord of the Manor was allowed to own a dovecote, and enjoy eating them at a time of year when fresh meat was scarce. But the pigeons would often eat the crops of the Lord, as well as the tenants, causing much resentment. For the last two miles, you’ll pass through newly planted woodland, a private venture to re-plant the Forest of Arden, and Windmill Hill. The track will then lead back to Coughton Court.
Drive time from central Birmingham: 40 minutes
2. Calke Abbey
With over 600 acres of parkland to explore, there are plenty of quiet spots to enjoy a peaceful walk at Calke Abbey, around 15 miles from Derby. As well as a grand Baroque mansion with a large natural history collection, Calke has secret walled gardens and a parkland, much of which is a National Nature Reserve. The South Derbyshire park is a rich and varied landscape of grassland, ponds and wood pasture – one of the rarest habitats in Europe. You’ll also find majestic and ancient trees, great bug-watching sites and some funky fungi. There are no public roads at Calke so it’s perfect for a peaceful walk.
There are also alternative routes around Calke including one through a deer park, another leading to Staunton Harold reservoir and the Tramway trail. The latter route starts at Calke Explore, and is a leisurely walk or cycle through woodland, farmland and pasture, where you can discover some of the old horse-drawn tramway that linked Ticknall to Ashby. With a recently extended figure-of-eight route suitable for cyclists and walkers of all ages, you can make your adventure as long as you like, varying from 3.7 to 6.3 miles.
Drive time from central Birmingham: 48 minutes
3. Baddesley Clinton
Just 7 miles from Solihull, Baddesley Clinton in Warwickshire is a secluded, intimate estate which was home to the Ferrers family for 500 years and offers beautiful views and multiple walking routes to take. For a short, gentle walk, stroll around the Baddesley Clinton estate, otherwise there is a canal walk nearby. Another easy walk but instead along country lanes, field paths and the Grand Union Canal. The 5-mile route starts at Baddesley Clinton estate and passes a secluded moated manor house, Rowington Church.
The canal walk has signposts for the Heart of England Way, a walk which starts from Milford Common on Cannock Chase and ends at Bourton on the Water in the Cotswolds linking south Staffordshire through Warwickshire to east Gloucestershire. You’ll also pass Kingwood Junction, where the Grand Union and Stratford canals meet. If you’re up for a gander which is a bit longer, you can head over the fields from Baddesley Clinton to Packwood, which was transformed in the 1920s from a 17th century farmhouse into a dream-like vision of a Tudor country home.
Drive time from central Birmingham: 30 minutes
4. Clent Hills
Located around 10 miles from Birmingham, this short circuit of Worcestershire’s most visited hills is a popular trek. Starting at Nimmings Wood car park and covering 3.5 miles (5.7km), it takes around 2 hours along woodland paths, tracks and hopping over a few stiles. You’ll come to the churchyard of St Kenelm’s, the site of the murder of an Anglo-Saxon boy king in 821AD. Legend says that young Kenelm was on a hunting trip on the hills when he was bumped off by the lover of his older sister so that she could be queen.
You also pass St Leonard’s Church, a mock set of standing stones known as The Four Stones and the Beacon Hill toposcope – a fort-like structure from which you can survey the surrounding landscape. Here, you’ll experience amazing views of the Cotswolds, Shropshire Hills and Welsh borders. Beacon Hill was once part of a chain of beacons where hilltop fires could be lit to spread news of an invasion. JRR Tolkien lived near the base of Beacon Hill for a time when he was 12 years old, and these views inspired the Beacons of Gondor in The Lord of the Rings. It’s also believed that when young Tolkien looked northeast from the summit back in 1904 and saw the blazing furnaces and smoky skies caused by the industry in the Black Country, this influenced his descriptions of Mordor.
Drive time from central Birmingham: 30 minutes
5. Comer Woods
Located within Dudmaston Estate and in the tranquil landscape of South Shropshire, Comer Woods offers a range of walks to follow. There is the Three Pools Walk which will lead you through a historic working estate which dates back to the Norman Conquest. Whatever the time of year, there is an abundance of wildlife around the water. This 1.5 mile route is perfect for taking dogs round and isn’t too long for children too. Once in the woods, follow the green trails posts which will guide you around the three pools. Brim Pool is closest to the road, Seggy Pool is the middle pool and Wall Pool is the last pool that you will come across.
Or you can follow Dudmaston’s explorer trail through the woodland at your own pace. The trail passes an expansive meadow, home to the UK’s northern most population of the White Admiral Butterfly. For a real autumnal route, there is a 3 mile route starting from Comer Woods car park, which you can access off the A442 between Dudmaston’s main entrance and Bridgnorth. Follow the orange way markers and venture into the heart of the woodland, which will have a path adorned in red leaves at this time of year. Pathways slope through ancient trees, amongst conifer plantations and along the edges of the three pools. Or why not complete a 4-mile walk through the village of Quatt within the Dudmaston Estate? Starting at Hampton Loade car park it is a circular route across woodlands and fields passing old sawmill buildings and you can even make a pitstop at the Quatt farm shop.
Drive time from central Birmingham: 60 minutes