Over the last year I’ve spent a much greater proportion of my time either at home or fairly close to home. During the lockdowns I’ve been out on walks to explore the area. I’ve discovered and explored some places close to me that I didn’t know that much about. Given that holidays abroad are hard to come by and even holidaying closer to home is proving difficult due to high demand, it makes sense to make the most of what’s on your doorstep. So getting to know Birmingham better seems to be a good idea.
Birmingham Museums has just launched an exciting new book –Things to Do & Places to See in Birmingham & the West Midlands. It follows the success of their best-selling book, Walk Birmingham, and is now on sale via the museum’s online shop. It’s a handy guide to discovering – or even re-discovering – the region. It features some 400 odd hidden gems from Birmingham and beyond including historic houses, nature reserves, parks and more.
Now I was born in Birmingham and I’ve lived in the area all my life. So I think I’m quite knowledgeable about places to see and visit. I had visited a lot of places in the Birmingham part of the guide, but there were plenty more that I hadn’t and some that I hadn’t even been aware of their existence. It’s not just Birmingham that’s covered in the guide: there’s Dudley, Sandwell, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Coventry and Solihull. I’d been to quite a few places in Sandwell and Dudley in particular, but again there were quite a few places I wasn’t aware of. In the other areas there were even more places I had yet to explore.
Format wise, the book is divided geographically by the various council areas and then within that there’s an alphabetical listing. Within each council area there are listings for museums, historical properties and art galleries: visitor attractions; entertainment and performing arts venues; parks, gardens and nature reserves; and libraries. Each entry gives an overview, provides contact details and there symbols to indicate the facilities available. There are lots of lovely pictures of the various places featured. The book is A5 sized, so it’s convenient to take out with you if you want.
Walk Birmingham is a handy book that will easily fit in your pocket when you are out on a walk. It details 20 walks in Birmingham, often picking out historical details or areas of interest. The only walks that I’ve completely walked the routes of were the Medieval Birmingham and Harborne walks. I’m familiar with bits of other walks too. Exploring Birmingham is a lot easier when you are on foot and have time to have a good look around.
Each walk features a map, photos and a written description. There’s also a information panel giving key details like post code, length, duration, bus routes, parking and facilities. I’m already plotting my next walk to explore a new area or see bits of the city I’ve not seen before.
Disclosure: I was sent these books for the purposes of this review.