Picnics are as British as rain showers in June and cucumber sandwiches. Enjoy a summer al fresco as National Express Bus takes you straight to some of the best parks in and around the city.
Leave the car at home, pack up your picnic blanket and grab the fizz … and enjoy a day out on the bus! National Express Bus has routes that take you to the best parks in the city and beyond, meaning you can enjoy the most stress-free adventure with friends and family.
Its eco-friendly fleet offers luxury and clean energy, so you can arrive in style on Platinum buses with free WiFi, USB points to charge your devices, comfier seats and extra leg room. There’s also crystal clear CCTV for passenger safety, bright LED interior lighting, improved soundproofing and audio next stop announcements.
What’s more, the new generation of buses are more fuel-efficient than their conventional diesel counterparts, and their engines are among the cleanest in the world.
SUMMER IN BIRMINGHAM’S HISTORIC PARKS
We’ve selected our favourite leafy stops on the National Express Bus network, each one offering a fun and family-friendly day out.
Cannon Hill Park, Bristol Road, between Moseley and Edgbaston
Boasting 250 gloriously green acres consisting of formal, conservation, woodland and sports areas. The park was gifted to the people of Birmingham by Louisa Ryland 1873, who wanted it to be a source of healthy recreation and an area of preservation. It’s still home to a Grade II listed bandstand, that was part of the original layout, a boating lake and children’s play area and fun for all the family at the 36 hole mini golf course, Golden Putter. You’ll also find the showpiece Midlands Art Centre, which this year celebrates its 60th anniversary as a pioneering arts centre. Over the coming months it will launch its MAC at 60 season, with an exciting programme of theatre, exhibitions, cinema, special events and creative courses.
Sutton Park, Visitor Centre at Park Road
Just six miles north of the city centre, this is one of the largest urban parks in Europe and a designated National Nature Reserve, a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. There’s endless open heathland, woodlands, wetlands and marshes – each with its own rich variety of plants and wildlife, some rarely seen in the region – as well as seven lakes. There’s even a number of restaurants and cafes, just in case you forgot to pack the sandwiches! For the adventurous, there are two orienteering courses and maps are available from the Visitor Centre. (please note, orienteering is not permitted between April 1-September 1, to prevent disturbance to wildlife).
Winterbourne House and Gardens, Edgbaston Park Road
Restored to its Edwardian splendour, Winterbourne is set within seven acres of stunning botanic gardens. The house was originally built for John Nettlefold, a pioneer of the city’s housing reform, and its Arts and Crafts style reflected his modern outlook. The gardens were designed by his wife Margaret, inspired by the books of Gertrude Jekyll, and were Grade II listed by English Heritage in 2008. Winterbourne was bequeathed to Birmingham University in 1944 and is still used for teaching and plant conservation. Music lovers can enjoy an evening with The Jake Leg Jug Band, as they bring you the authentic sounds of 1920s and 30s to the gardens on Saturday July 16 as part of The Birmingham, Sandwell & Westside Jazz Festival.
PoliNations, City Centre throughout September
A celebration of colour, beauty and natural diversity in the heart of the city, and part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival. The pop-up garden festival – complete with an immersive forest – takes place from September 2-18, and aims to explore multiculturalism through the metaphor of plant biodiversity. Highlights include the Spoken Word Weekend (September 10-11) featuring local and national talent; and the four-day Ballistic Seed Party, combining the joyful spirit Carnival and Holi (September 15-18). The project culminates in planting of 600 brightly coloured marigolds which will then be distributed across Birmingham at the end of the two-week event.
TRAVEL FURTHER AFIELD
Jephson Garden, Newbold Terrace, Leamington Spa
The beautiful formal Victorian park in the centre of this famous Spa town is the perfect spot for a relaxing stroll or family picnic. Open until 9pm throughout June and July, the gardens were first laid out in 1831 as informal riverside walks along the River Leam before being developed into a more formal park in 1846 and named in honour of Dr Henry Jephson, a famous doctor who promoted the town as a spa. They were restored to their former glory by Warwick District Council two decades ago with help from a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, and now boast endless colourful flowerbeds and sculptures, a glasshouse with interesting tropical plants, goldfish pond and observation beehive and a sensory garden, as well as a Victoria tea pavilion. On Saturday August 14, the gardens play host to Art In The Park, a free curated arts festival with a programme bursting with crafts, local food and drink, music, dance and theatre.
Bus route: 11
Tettenhall Green, Stockwell Road, Tettenhall
A green oasis just outside Wolverhampton city centre and a short a stroll from neighbouring Tettenhall Village, lined with bustling shops, bars and restaurants. The famous clock tower was built by Swindley family to celebrate the coronation of King George Vl; they donated to the area of common land to the people of the parish in 1930s. Stockwell Farm’s duck pond was converted into a paddling pool a few years later – and it still proves a real draw for families – thanks to the Graham family, former owners of the Express & Star.
Visit Tettenhall Green on the following National Express bus routes which can take you straight to the park: 1, 10, 10A, 10B, 62, 62A.
Walsall Arboretum, Broadway North
A rural retreat in the heart of Walsall town centre, the Arboretum first opened its gates in 1874 and today spans more than 170 acres, with more than 10,000 different species of trees and shrubs. A great day out whatever your age, there’s Hatherton Lake, parkland, a boathouse and café, cricket pavilion, play areas and sports facilities. You certainly won’t run out of things to do … whether you’re looking to chill out in the orchard or get the adrenaline pumping at the outdoor fitness areas and skate park. You can also take to the water and enjoy a 30-minute pedalo ride.
Bus route: 74, 77, 77A, 934, 935
Mary Stevens Park, Norton, Stourbridge
With more than a million visitors each year, this well-loved community park hosts a programme of regular heritage and wildlife activities. Chill out on the grass while the kids feed the ducks at Heath Pool, enjoy a treat or two at the Café in the tea gardens, or test your fitness at the outdoor gym and Healthy Hub Centre – there’s a whole programme of exercise and activities over the summer to get the pulse racing. Gifted to the town by local industrialist and philanthropist Ernest Stevens, in honour of his wife Mary, it’s also home to crown green bowls and croquet, a bandstand and the town’s War Memorial.
Bus route: 9 towards Stourbridge Interchange followed by the 7 towards Wollaston
Bantock Park, Finchfield Road, Wolverhampton
Home to Bantock House, a hidden gem set within 43 acres of parkland and formal gardens. The museum boasts the finest examples of oak panelled rooms, decorative glass and Arts and Crafts furnishings alongside displays of locally made enamels and Japanned lacquerwork. Next month, the gardens welcomes a pop-up to celebrate Digbeth Dining Clubs tenth anniversary. Expect award-winning street food, specialist gin, prosecco, cocktail and craft beer bars and a host of entertainment from midday through to 7pm on Saturday July 23.
Baggeridge Country Park, Sedgley
A 15 minute walk from the bust stop brings you to Baggeridge, awarded the Green Flag for more than 20 years in a row and recognised as one of the country’s finest parks. On the Black Country’s doorstep, it’s a favourite of dog walkers, families, bird watchers and nature lovers. Facilities include a tea room, miniature railway, play area, bike trail and horse trekking as well as weekly instructor-led walks every Thursday. For those looking for excitement you can traverse through the high and low ropes courses at High Ropes Adventure – take a leap of faith down the PowerFan Descender and swing through the trees along the zip wire. The course has state of the art safety systems and all instructors are highly qualified outdoor specialists.