If you read about Birmingham, the facts you’ll soon come across will almost definitely be:
- Youngest city in Europe
- More miles of canals than Venice
- More Michelin star restaurants than anywhere else in the UK (outside of London)
- One of the UK’s greenest cities
When I moved to Birmingham about 8 years ago, I saw 1, 2 and 3 immediately. It took me longer to see the truth in 4 but when I did, I fell completely in love with the city’s parks.
When I finally found them, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t discovered places like New Hall Valley Country Park and Perry Hall Park sooner. Now, I’m on a mission to visit all of the great parks in the city (as I write this, I’m up to number 43!) and share my journey so that others might find some new favourite green spaces too.
I’m enjoying experiencing each park differently. An early morning walk in Sutton Park (with my dog and a cup of tea) is a simple, glorious pleasure. I blame Sutton Park for my slow progress on visiting other parks, I keep finding myself back there exploring a new route or photographing a new view. It’s an incredible community asset and one I now treasure.
Parks definitely aren’t just for walking though- my first trip to Moseley Park and Pool was for an outdoor yoga class, it was a lovely warm day and the experience gave me a completely restorative feeling. Grove Park became a favourite picnic spot last summer, we’d stock up on delicious nibbles from Laghi’s Deli and spent the afternoon chatting, eating and watching the world go by. New Hall Valley Park was the first place I ran after recovering from knee surgery, I can still remember the ache and the sense of achievement. One thing is for sure, we make memories in parks.
The various restrictions put in place during 2020 have certainly amplified my love of green spaces. Despite the trauma we’ve all been through, last year is still full of happy memories of walking with friends and family. You’d normally have found us nattering over a cocktail or two in a Jewellery Quarter bar, but last year we walked & talked our way around Shire Country Park, socially distanced and with takeaway coffees from Sarehole Mill in hand.
Spending more time outdoors in the city’s parks has even inspired me to bring a little more nature into my own home. I’ve been a house-plant addict for a year or so but now I’m growing herbs too and I find myself browsing the internet for allotment plots if left to my own devices for too long.
We should count ourselves lucky. This city is full of special green spaces; full of people enjoying them, finding their own inspiration and making their own memories. The diversity of parks in Birmingham is incredible – we’re spoilt with charming local nature reserves, one of the largest urban parks in Europe, plenty of lovely neighbourhood parks & playgrounds and even magical woodland that inspired a world renowned author.
Follow my journey around the city’s parks over on Instagram, you never know, you might find a new favourite of your own to explore: www.instagram.com/alexn_e