A spot of canal walking is a great way time get the body ready for a summer of mountain climbing and the stretch from Alvechurch to Selly Oak is an easy going and beautiful walk.
The nearest place for us to get onto the canal is at Alvechurch marina which is just under 3 miles from our homebase and to get there we have to walk up a busy main road, we could get a bus or train to the start point but it just seems to defeat the whole object of getting some exercise.
Once you get into Alvechurch look out for the brown tourist information signs pointing toward the Marina or its very easy to miss it leaving you walking up towards Birmingham.
The distance from Alvechurch to Selly Oak is just short of 7 miles but its about a 3 mile walk for us to get to the canal so its a nice 10 mile trek in total. This walk has some lovely long straight pieces of canal that are sheltered by thick overhanging trees that keep things nice and cool even on very hot days.
Alvechruch marina is a hub of barge building and repair with many barges in different stages of construction at any given time, also you will see a few barges in this area that are for sale and if you can find the owners there is sometimes a chance to have a look inside.
Leaving the marina the canal goes through a few twists and turns before you come to a point where its splits into two, at this point its best to look for a sign that says “all boats this way” and follow that route. You can take the other towpath but it is badly maintained with no clear indication of how to get back onto the main canal.
You soon reach one of the many long straight paths on this route as you pass the Lower Bittell Reservoir and if you look carefully you can see the Redditch to Birmingham train tracks in the distance.
If you do enough walks along canals you soon notice the quality of the towpath depending on where you are, the closer you are to a big city or town the better maintained the path but on those long pieces of canal between major population areas the state of the ground can be bad especially after heavy rains.
We always wear a good quality pair of light hiking boots for these walks as they will cope with anything the canal towpath can throw at you without making you tired over the distance.
As you make your way into the outskirts of Birmingham you will have to leave the canal because of one of the many tunnels that litter the network across the city. This tunnel is 1.5 miles long and its best to have a good map to guide you back onto the canal at the other end if you don’t know the way.
You leave the canal onto Wasthill lane heading in the same direction as the tunnel, follow this lane till you come to a T junction and turn right, keep following this road round and up a hill until you see Shannon road on your right, turn into Shannon road and follow it all the way to the bottom until you pass a school on your left.
Crossing the road right in front of you directly after the school and going straight over a small piece of grass will bring you to the other end of the tunnel and back onto the canal.
Walking further into the city the tree lines bordering the canal are replaced gradually be industrial units and the mud and gravel towpath is replaced by a properly laid cycle track until you reach the busy road junction at Selly Oak where a quick right turn will bring you to the train station for homeward travel.