As many of you know, I love going out with my little family to parks and nature reserves and making memories. I grew up (and still live in) the Black Country in the West Midlands, which gained its name in the 1800s due to the smoke and black soot-covered buildings from coal used in factories and foundries at the time. It was one of the most industrialised parts of the UK. Despite the Black Country still being a hive for industry, there are a lot of green spaces to be enjoyed!
I always remember going to Clent Hills as a child and every time I go, it hasn't changed one bit. Clent Hills, part of the National Trust, is a countryside spot compromising of a number of hills, Clent and Walton being the highest. Clent Hills is a popular area for dog walkers and picnic-goers and is a perfect place to spend a few hours overlooking the beautiful Worcestershire countryside. If you do go be sure to check out the mysterious Four Stones and toposcope at the summit of Clent Hill.
Saltwells Local Nature Reserve
If you don't want to travel too far, Saltwells Local Nature Reserve is a perfect little spot to be immersed in wood and grassland. At 247 acres, it is one of the largest urban nature reserves in the UK. The area was planted with trees during the 18th century on Lord Dudley's estate to mask the effects of coal mining and because wood was in high demand at the time. The reserve prides itself on picturesque bluebell woodland, a beautiful pond with sixteen species of dragonfly, and rare orchid species. It really is a hidden gem within Netherton, Dudley.
Haden Hill House and Park
Haden Hill House and Park is another spot that I've been going to for years. I remember climbing the climbing frame and going back and forth on the monkey bars on the old play area as a kid. The history of the house and grounds are truly fascinating. George Alfred Haden Haden-Best inherited Haden Hall in the late Victorian period and shortly after, built a modern house on the site of an old farmhouse as he did not want to live in the adjacent Old Hall. The Victorian House is now a museum filled with period-style furnishings. Entrance to the museum is free apart from when the households special events and activities. The park boasts two play areas, a lake, multiple bowling greens, beautiful gardens, and lots of open space. The house and park really is a great way to spend a few hours.
Warley Woods is a 100-acre country park and woods in Smethwick (three miles outside of Birmingham City Centre). It has been voted in the country's top 10 parks for the past few years. The park has an enclosed play area, golf course, cafe, and gift shop. There is plenty of space for walking and if you're lucky you can find a fairy door or two hiding in the woodland!
Bumble Hole Local Nature Reserve
Bumble Hole and it's neighbouring nature reserve, Warren's Hall, used to be the heart of the coal mining and clay extraction industry. The Grade II listed Cobb's Engine House, which was built around 1831, pumped water out of the coal mines and back into the canal. Canal barges towed by horse were vital for the transportation of coal. The one-mile long iconic Netherton Tunnel was opened in 1858 to connect Netherton to Tipton and is still used by walkers and boaters. Today, the landscape is great for picnics and a leisurely stroll. There is plenty of grassland and multiple lakes where heron can be spotted. Bumble Hole is a perfect way to walk through history and remember how the land once was.
Sandwell Valley Country Park
Sandwell Valley Country Park in West Bromwich is a huge park which has been expanded and developed over the years. You need a good few hours to properly explore the park and if you have children, it will definitely be a lot longer! There is a big park development for children of all ages as well as exercise equipment, tennis courts, and bike trails. The most popular attraction is the onsite Farm which has horses, goats, sheep, pigs and much more. The horses and sheep are often outside in a paddock for all to see. There are plenty of spaces to sit and have a picnic and if you enjoy a walk, take a look round Swan pool which is a big lake a short walk over the motorway bridge. It really is a hidden gem.
Himley Hall and Park
Himley Hall is a beautiful Georgian country house set in 180 acres of picturesque parkland. If you love a leisurely stroll with beautiful views, then you will definitely enjoy a walk around the boating lake. And then, treat yourself to a well-deserved cup of tea in the tea room. The park is also a popular spot to teach your children how to ride a bike!
Mary Stevens Park
Mary Stevens Park is a very popular Victorian Park in Stourbridge. It has a lot of open space which is perfect for dog walkers and picnic go-ers. There is a small playground, fitness area, and a big lake to walk around. You could even enjoy an ice-cream from the tea room (and don't worry, your dog won't miss out as they have dog ice-cream too!) If you're a sporty family, the tennis and basketball courts will definitely be for you. There sure is something for everyone!
If you do venture out to these lovely places then feel free to download my free nature scavenger hunt printable to keep your little one's busy! Click the PDF below to download.