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I'm lucky enough to live 5 minutes away from the Lickey Hill Country Park and even though I don't go there all the time it's nice to have a walk round there to get some fresh air and see the lovely countryside that you probably wouldn't believe we have in Birmingham if you just see the grotty town centre on the news.
It's absolutely huge and has loads of open green spaces, a forest, duck ponds, kids play areas and anything you could want from a country walk. It's very hilly of course because it's called the Lickey Hills and there are some massive hills to make your way up if you're going for a walk but nothing unmanagable and there are loads of benches dotted around if you feel yourself getting too shattered!
There's one entrance to the Lickey Hills that is located on Twatling Road (i know, I know, don't laugh!) and here there's a brilliant play area and a visitors centre which has got a cafe and a tiny gift shop in there. The play area is outside and is like a bit of an assault course with tyre swings, fireman poles and normal slides and swings. My little sister's 10 and she loves it here so me and my mum quite often deposit her there and go up to the visitors centre for a cup of coffee while she plays.
I know this probably sounds overdramatic but if your going to do that then make sure you tell your kids not to wonder off because this play area is surrounded by woodlands and it would be easy for them to get lost or meet someone they shouldn't.
This is just one bit of the Lickey Hills though but I reckon this would be a boring review if I described each acre in minute detail so I'll just say that every area is beautiful and one of the most peaceful places you can imagine. It's hard to imagine that such a beautful country park should be right next door to a massive trading estate, the old grey Longbridge car plant and areas of Birmingham that aren't in the best condition they could be.
My little sister is 2 and when we had all that snow at the start of the year we took her up there because the hills have always been wicked for sledging. My dad was a bit nervous because the day before that girl in I think London was killed on a makeshift sledge but in the end we used a proper plastic sledge and had a brill time and my sister laughed and laughed when we put her on the sledge and pulled her along.
There's another part of the Lickey Hills that I've got to tell you about and that even people living in the area might not know about. This is alongside the golf club and is a seperate entrance to a small hotel where you can get married, hold christenings or perform a civil ceremony. The hotel is nothing special but at the back there is a series of duck ponds that are beautiful at any time of year and the ducks are so tame and well fed that they will take a bit of bread from your hand.
I love the Lickey Hills and any time of they year it's a brill place to go and spend a bit of time. Apart from your coffee and ice cream in the visitors centre it's free so if you're local I recommend you going and having a look before it gets too cold to be any fun!
One of my favourite places in Birmingham is the Lickey Hills Country Park. Its basically a massive 524 acres of parkland on the outskirts of Birmingham, also bordering Bromsgrove and Rednal. I used to come here as a child, and now with children of my own I find its an ideal place to spend the day and get some fresh air into the familys lungs at the same time! An added bonus is the fact that the Park is free to visit with very few optional extras available, making this a very cheap day out.
The wonderful thing about the Lickey Hills Country Park is the greenness of the place; its beautifully unkempt and generally left to its own devices as far as what plants grow in which areas. There are areas of the Park which have been developed and made more visitor friendly, but on the whole the Park remains a haven of flora and fauna.
My favourite area of the Country Park is the duck ponds, and its remained a favourite since I was three years old. Its a huge space in the Park which has been beautifully landscaped around a series of ornamental duck ponds. Walking along a country trail through this part of the Park is especially fantastic for the kids as the ponds are spaced out at intervals and theres always something to look at. The ponds themselves are bursting with wildlife; the obligatory ducks are in abundance in the summer and often youll see a line of ducklings swimming along trying to keep up with their mum. This is a beautiful section of the Park in any season, although the summertime is definitely the best time to visit if you want to really appreciate the beauty of the area.
Children are allowed to fish in the duck ponds using those small fishing nets on sticks, which can be bought from the visitors centre which is further into the Park. My kids have caught plenty of tiddlers and sticklebacks, not the mention the odd newt and even (bizarrely) what I can only describe as a goldfish! Dotted along the trail through the duck ponds are benches at strategic points where you can sit and relax while surrounded by trees and gorgeous wild plants. Theres Bluebell Wood, where literally hundreds of bluebells sprout up among the trees for a couple of weeks during the spring. This truly is an amazing sight as the whole floor of this particular piece of woodland is coloured a vibrant purple. Equally beautiful is a patch of the Park which is covered in snowdrops during the winter and early spring, this is also a fantastic display.
Another section of the Park which is well worth seeing is the Visitors Centre. This building is a perfect example of packing a lot into a small area. One section of this very small building is a café where you can buy reasonably priced snacks, ice creams and drinks. This opens out into a outdoor picnic area where you can munch your ice lolly and eat your packed lunches, plus the kids can run across to the excellent adventure-type playground which is 100% visible from the picnic area so safe for the little ones to have a bit of much needed freedom.
The centre also houses a small gift shop which caters for little kids with not much pocket money, souvenirs of the Country Park start at the ultra cheap price of 25p and the majority of the childrens gifts are under £1. Adults can fork out for gardening books and intricately made bird boxes, but be prepared to pay more than your kids!
Theres a fantastic information display in the centre, including some beautiful photographs of wildlife which has been found in the Country Park. Freely available are leaflets and booklets explaining various aspects of the Park, take advantage of these as theyll help you to make the most of your day. The woodlands are so vast that its physically impossible to see everything in one day, so using the leaflets and maps you can pick out the parts you want to go and have a look at first.
Its impossible to discuss the Lickey Hill Country Park without mentioning the nature you can see if you look hard enough and are lucky enough. I saw my one and only real badger at the Country Park; Ive also seen several woodpeckers and even a buzzard, kindly pointed out by a passing member of the ranger team which looks after the park. This is on top of a multitude of common or garden animals which can be seen all over the Park; the rabbits, robins, sparrows, frogs, kingfishers etc There are also a herd of deer which live in the park, and polecats but Ive never spotted these I will one day!
The Lickey Hills Country Park also boasts an 18 hole golf course which is located next to The Rose & Crown hotel; here you can have a pint and an (overpriced) meal, hire bikes and even get married! The view from the golf course is magnificent as there are trees, duck ponds and nicely maintained gardens as far as the eye can see.
Theres much, much more but youll have to go and discover the rest for yourself as itll spoil the surprise if I tell you too much! Be prepared to spend at least four to five hours in the Park, if you can make a full day of it then arrive as early as possible and leave at dusk. Most areas in the Park are easily accessible by car from the various roads which encircle it, to see everything youll have to get back in the car and drive to the next entrance along as cars are obviously not allowed to drive through the woodland. All entrances have an excellent amount of free parking (including plenty of disabled spaces) which is central to the particular area youve decided to explore.
The Lickey Hills Country Park is roughly 10 miles South of Birmingham City Centre, your best bet if youre travelling by car is to take the A38 (Bristol Road) South as far as Longbridge before following the signs for the Park. You can catch the number 62 bus from the City Centre into Rednal, and here youll be at the very end of the park with roughly a walk of one and a half miles to get to the Visitors Centre. A train will drop you at Barnt Green Station, but again youve got a good walk ahead of you to get into the main part of the Park.
Disabled and pushchair access is very good, although because this is an area very much left to nature it cant be guaranteed that visitors with a disability will be able to do everything. Some pathways in the Park are very steep and loose with gravel so someone with mobility problems would obviously need to be careful. Check in the Visitors Centre for information on which areas are easily accessible and if youre in doubt one of the rangers will happily advise you.
The Lickey Hills Country Park lies 11 miles south west of Birmingham city centre and covers an area of 524 acres. The hills are covered by a mosaic of mixed deciduous woodland, conifer plantations and heathland, all are rich in a variety of wildlife. Included within the park boundary is an eighteen hole Golf course, bowls, tennis and putting green as well as a purpose built wheelchair pathway and viewing platform allowing easy access to panoramic views over the surrounding countryside.