Walk the Worcs & Birmingham Canal - Alvechurch to Bromsgrove
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Join me for the second of three day walks following the full length of the Worcester and Birmingham canal through the green hills of Worcestershire.
The canal played an important role throughout the 1800s and well into the last century, linking the industrial powerhouses of the Midlands to the world via the river Severn and Bristol. Nowadays it is popular with boaters, joggers, cyclists, gongoozlers and OutdoorLads alike.
Today's route starts where the previous walk ended in Alvechurch. It's a much shorter leg at just 7 miles and far more rural in character but takes in some interesting features along the way (not least the pub)!
Having made the first 14 miles from Birmingham without a single lock, the situation changes dramatically at Tardebigge - home to the longest flight of locks in the UK. The canal drops some 220 ft through 30 locks in just over 2 miles - bizarrely a number of boat hire companies operate from here so the poor customers have to get to grips with locks very quickly! It's also here that the canal company began to run out of money so the width of the canal halves. Even so it racked up costs of around £36 million in today's money.
Near the end of the lock flight we'll reach our pub stop at Stoke Pound for lunch before the short walk over to Bromsgrove station for the journey home.
This is where it all began for me 3 years ago: my very first walk with OutdoorLads. Now I'm setting out to complete the 30 mile journey in 3 parts, this time as a leader. You can view and sign up for the other walks here:
Getting there and away
Trains run every 20 minutes from Birmingham New Street to Alvechurch. With the return leg being on a slightly different route you should probably buy a return to Bromsgrove. I'm sure the railways wouldn't endorse my approach but there are no ticket barriers to worry about!
There's some free parking at Alvechurch. You may, however, find it easier to park at (equally free) Longbridge station and get the train. It makes for a much quicker and simpler journey overall as you won't have to change trains on the way back.
What to bring
The towpath is mostly paved and in good condition with just a few muddy patches. Nevertheless do please wear comfortable footwear and bring a jacket just in case.
Water: bring at least a litre
Medicines: if you have hay fever, diabetes, minor ailments etc.
Day rucksack: typically 20-30 litres, they are comfortable to wear and allow you to use your arms freely
Boots: waterproof and breathable and designed for hiking, trainers are OK if the ground is dry and there’s little chance of rain
Gaiters: recommended for wet weather or boggy conditions
Socks: proper walking socks will keep your feet dry and help prevent blisters
Layered clothing: lets you quickly adapt to changes in the weather and body temperature. Go for a base layer (vest or t-shirt) and a mid layer (a micro fleece or shirt) and in cooler weather add an outer layer (a windproof jacket or thick fleece)
Trousers: ideally no jeans as they become heavy and cold in the rain, breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry and on warm days shorts are OK
Waterproof jacket: essential when hiking in all but the calmest of weather, breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry
Gloves: Windproof, or better still, waterproof gloves are the best choice, bring a spare pair if expecting rain
Hat or cap: stay warm in winter and shaded in summer
Sunglasses: for any sunny day, even in winter
Sun cream: can be useful even on cloudy and winter days
Snacks: bring biscuits, energy bars, gels, bananas, chocolate or dried fruit for example and put them somewhere easy to get hold of
Lunch: bring a packed lunch unless otherwise stated
Food & drink
We'll have a late pub lunch near the end of the walk. You'll need to bring something to drink - we pass no shops on the route.