Beautiful countryside that can be seen on typical canal walks close to Birmingham.

The Best Canal Walks In Birmingham and Beyond: From A Local

Read on to discover the best canal walks in the Birmingham region!

Birmingham in the UK is famous for having the largest canal system in all of Europe, and there a lot of options if you want to go on canal walks when visiting the city.

If you fancy getting out of the hustle and bustle of the city centre and want to explore the serene nature that can be found alongside the numerous canal ways, then knowing where to go and what to expect is vital.

As a local based in nearby Wolverhampton, I’ve had a strong fascination with the history of canal system stemming from Birmingham’s city centre and have discovered several different routes over the years.

So I’ve curated this blog post detailing all of the best canal walks both in the city centre of Birmingham as well as longer canal walks from the city to nearby areas in the West Midlands.

Best Canal Walks In Birmingham

There are several lovely canal walks that you can take within the city of Birmingham that don’t take too long if you just fancy a short stroll and want to discover some of the most beautiful spots that the city has to offer.

So, let’s take a look at what are the best canal walks within the city of Birmingham, in no particular order:

📍 Gas Street Basin to Brindley Place

Gas Street Basin is the heart of Birmingham’s extraordinary canal system and dates back a few hundred years. It was a vital part of the city’s trade and was operated by gangs that inspired the TV series: ‘Peaky Blinders‘.

Nowadays it’s a hub full of top quality cocktail bars and restaurants and it is a top choice to go for a walk along the various canals when visiting the city.

You can get a real sense of the history of the city’s canal layout and you’ll see several narrowboats that are docked here too.

From Gas Street Basin you can easily reach the likes of Brindley Place and The Mailbox within 5 minutes, and I’ll cover both of these areas next.

Birmingham's industrial past as seen at Gas Street Basin.
A glimpse of Birmingham’s industrial past as seen at Gas Street Basin.

About Brindley Place

Brindley Place is one of the nicest areas in the whole city of Birmingham in my opinion and is a top choice if you want to dine out in the second capital.

Just a short 10-15 walk from Birmingham New Street Station, this canal side development area is one of the best spots for socialising in the city, with numerous top quality restaurants and bars.

Let’s take a look at 3 of my personal favourite restaurants to visit in Brindley Place:

  • Perios Brindley Place – if you fancy some Mexican food when in Birmingham then this is your best choice! I’ve visited Perios several times before and I have always been impressed with their Tex-Mex menu and colourful décor.
  • The Brasshouse – probably the most well known place to eat in Brindley Place, the Brasshouse is a famous celebrity bar and restaurant serving contemporary Indian cuisine.
  • Piccolino Birmingham – if you’re more in the mood for Italian food when in Brindley Place, then you can’t go wrong with a visit to Piccolino’s. Offering top rated Italian cuisine, it also features a cocktail bar and an alfresco terrace.
Beautiful canal views seen from The Mailbox in central Birmingham.
The busy social hub that is Brindley Place in central Birmingham.

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    📍 Gas Street Basin to The Mailbox

    If you head in the opposite direction from Gas Street Basin to Brindley Place, then you’ll soon reach The Mailbox.

    The Mailbox is a luxury shopping centre and is one of Birmingham’s top landmarks, full of high end boutique clothes stores as well as fine dining restaurants, bars and offices.

    This entire canal walk including Brindley Place and Gas Street Basin is by far the nicest within Birmingham in my opinion.

    Beautiful canal views seen from The Mailbox in central Birmingham.
    Beautiful canal views seen from The Mailbox in central Birmingham.

    📍 Digbeth Branch Canal to Aston Junction

    Stretching just under a mile from Digbeth to Aston Junction, the Digbeth Branch Canal is ideal if you want to discover a typical Birmingham canal walk in a short time.

    Starting at Warwick Bar, this walk with give you an idea of the city’s strong industrial past that has lasted hundreds of years, dating back to the UK’s industrial revolution.

    📍 Birmingham & Fazeley Canal Walk

    Starting at Gas Street Basin, the Birmingham & Fazeley canal walk is a nice trail that is around 15 miles in total and takes you to the town of Fazeley in Tamworth.

    This is a really beautiful trail that mixes urban and natural landscapes. You’ll likely pass by several narrowboat enthusiasts as well as other walkers and cyclists enjoying the most of this lovely route.

    Other Parks and Nature Trails

    As well as canals, Birmingham is full of beautiful parks and nature trails that are worth exploring too. Here are three of the nicest places to visit when in the second city:

    • Cannon Hill Park – probably Birmingham’s most well known park situated in the south of the city, featuring lovely conservation areas and it has plenty of activities available for children.
    • Edgbaston Reservoir – close to the city centre, this reservoir is a popular nature site and it’s possible to walk the trail around the entire reservoir, which is over 2 miles in total.
    • Harborne Walkway – this is a former railway line and is now a pathway surrounded by woodland, making for a very nice scenic walk that passes through Summerfield Park.

    Best Long Distance Canal Walks From Birmingham

    Now let’s take a look at some of the more long distance canal walks you can take from the centre of Birmingham to further afield:

    📍 Grand Union Canal

    The Grand Union canal is the UK’s longest and most famous canal, connecting Birmingham to London, lasting a total of 137 miles.

    Obviously this is too long of a distance to cover in just one day, but it’s possible to walk some of the canal route from Birmingham to Leamington Spa in just one day for example, which is about 28 miles in distance.

    Leamington Spa is a top destination if you have time to explore local areas close to Birmingham.

    It’s full of outstanding historical architecture, as well as award winning gardens and is a quiet, peaceful alternative to the modern life of Birmingham.

    📍 The Worcester & Birmingham Canal Walk

    This is another popular canal walk from Birmingham city centre, that lasts a total of 30 miles. This would take several hours to walk the entire canal route in one day, but it is certainly possible if you’re fit and healthy.

    From the busy centre of Birmingham through the beautiful hilly landscapes of Worcestershire to the lovely Cathedral town of Worcester, this long walk is a total delight to complete.

    Along the walk you’ll pass by Diglis Basin, which is where the Worcester & Birmingham canal joins the famous River Severn.

    You’ll also pass through Droitwich Spa, which is a lovely, quiet town which is well worth stopping at for a coffee break or a bite to eat.

    Worcester itself is a fine destination city to reach. I’ve visited this interesting city several times and have always been impressed with it’s history and architecture.

    📍 New Maine Line Canal Walk

    The New Maine Line Canal is actually the same city centre canal route mentioned earlier in this blog post that covers destinations such as Gas Street Basin, The Mailbox and Brindley Place.

    However, it is possible to continue your canal walk along this route from the city centre to the nearby town of Tipton. Lasting just over 8 miles, this canal line was designed by Thomas Telford back in the 19th century.

    📍 Old Maine Line Canal Walk

    As a Wolverhampton local, I’ve taken several canal walks from Wolverhampton to Birmingham along what is known as the Old Main Line, and it is a pleasant walk for sure.

    Lasting around 14 miles, you can expect this walk to take you anywhere between 2-4 hours depending on your speed and if you rest along the way.

    This canal walk takes you through the industrial and countryside parts of the Black Country, and there are some really scenic parts of the route that I can personally recommend.

    👉 Pro Tip: While walking the Old Maine Line, I recommend taking a detour to visit the Black Country Living Museum. This is a fascinating open air museum that recreates a historical town from the region’s incredible industrial past.

    A beautiful countryside scene on the Old Maine Line canal route close to Wolverhampton.
    A beautiful countryside scene on the Old Maine Line canal route close to Wolverhampton.

    📍 Daw End Branch Canal Walk

    The Daw End canal walk is known to be arguably the most rural canal walk that you can go on from Birmingham. It’s also a relatively short route; lasting just over 5 miles, meaning that it is possible to complete within just a few hours.

    The canal walk takes you from Birmingham to Walsall and you can expect a peaceful walk surrounded by lovely countryside and nature.

    What I love about a good canal walk such as this, is that there is a huge contrast between leaving a big modern city such as Birmingham and entering quiet, peaceful countryside and being surrounded in beautiful nature in no time at all.

    A contrast between nature along a canal route and the modern Birmingham skyline in the distance.
    A contrast between nature along a canal route and the modern Birmingham skyline in the distance.

    📍 Tame Valley Canal Walk

    The Tame Valley Canal walk from Birmingham city centre is one of the best hidden gem routes from the second city.

    Lasting 8.5 miles from Perry Barr in Birmingham, this is another scenic route that passes by Sandwell Valley Country Park and Farm, just one mile from West Bromwich town centre.

    👉 Pro Tip: I recommend visiting Sandwell Valley from the canal route, as it is one of the most beautiful park areas in the whole of the West Midlands region. Here you can go on a heritage tour, visit it’s rabbit village and relax at their tea rooms.

    Signage with information for Sandwell Valley Visitor Centre.
    Signage with information for Sandwell Valley Visitor Centre.

    Map of Birmingham Canals

    Check out this interactive map of all the canal walk routes and nearby towns mentioned in this blog post:

    Canal Rides In Birmingham

    If you’re not in the mood for a canal walk when in Birmingham then it’s possible to go on a canal ride instead – which is certainly less exhausting!

    There are several canal ride options you can take, so let’s take a look at three of the best to choose from:

    • Brindley Cruises – featuring live commentary during the cruise to teach you all about the Birmingham canals, this is an ideal public trip boat that you can catch from Brindley Place.
    • Roundhouse Birmingham – this is a heritage enterprise offering several different type of heritage tours about the region, including a canal boat tour around the city’s canal loops.
    • Sherborne Wharf Heritage Narrowboats – offering public boat trips on luxury narrowboats, this is another great option to discover the industrial heritage of Birmingham, that departs daily from the International Convention Centre Quayside.

    Best Canal Walks Birmingham FAQs

    Still not sure about going on a canal walk from Birmingham? Allow me to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about this subject:

    Does Birmingham really have more canals than Venice?

    Although it is a long held belief that Birmingham has more canals than the famous Italian city of Venice, this isn’t actually technically true.

    Birmingham doesn’t have more canals than Venice, but it does have more miles of canals than Venice. In total, Birmingham has canals that comes to over 35 miles, while Venice only has 26 miles worth of waterways.

    This means that Birmingham has more miles of canals than anywhere else in Europe, more than popular destinations such as Venice and Amsterdam amongst others.

    Is it safe to go on a Birmingham canal walk?

    Yes, going for a canal walk in and around Birmingham is considered a safe activity, especially around the city centre area.

    I would however advise against going on a canal walk during the night. Although the canal paths in the city centre are well lit up, crime can be an issue in Birmingham, especially in areas such as Aston and Perry Barr.

    Can you swim in Birmingham canals?

    No, swimming in Birmingham canals or any canals anywhere for that matter is not a good idea and swimming is generally not permitted.

    Canals are known to be shallow and the water quality is not suited for swimming – they are considered to be unsafe to swim in.

    Conclusion: Best Canal Walks In Birmingham

    So that concludes everything you need to know about the best canal walks in Birmingham. There is so much history behind Birmingham’s many canals, and going on a walk on these routes is a top choice when visiting the city.

    It makes for a nice change of pace from the busy modern life that is Birmingham, and you have plenty of choices.

    Whether you want to stay within the city along popular areas such as Brindley Place, or you want to explore gorgeous nature scenery nearby such as the Worcester & Birmingham canal route, you really are spoilt for choice.

    I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about all the different canal walks you can take in Birmingham and beyond and feel inspired to get your walking boots on and discover this lesser known aspect of the second city.

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