We have heard Brummies (i.e. Lynne’s relatives) speak with affection of day trips to the Lickey Hills and its panoramic views of the Midlands. We have even seen them in the distance on our Malverns trek, through the shimmering heat-haze. We have also driven past them on our many trips along the M5 but never taken time to stop and explore.
However, this week our work commute from Scotland gave us a couple hours to play with, since we had broken the journey overnight in Cumbria. This was not a planned visit. We had stopped at Frankley Motorway Services (M5 Southbound) for a ‘comfort break’ and to swap driving duties. The toilet facilities are situated upstairs. At one time there was also a restaurant area but eateries are now all on the ground floor. However, the window views are still worth a look. Were we in the Lickey Hills? Were we looking at the Lickey Hills?
Out of curiosity, we ‘Googled’ Lickey Hills Country Park and discovered that we were only 15 minutes away. We decided that it might be an interesting spot to eat our meagre lunch.
We arrived at the main parking area and headed to the visitor centre to pick up a map, since we had no idea about the geography of the park. A helpful warden - whose attention you attract by squeezing a rubber lizard - gave us a suggested walk route and even offered us the use of the staff car park. The offer was made after we mentioned unpacking suitcases to get at walking boots. Unfortunately, the car parks seems to be a favourite for opportunist thieves.
Once we had a map in hand, we realised that we were parked on Bilberry Hill (243.8 m / 800 ft) one of the main viewing points. A short 50 m walk afforded us a view towards Birmingham over the Longbridge plant - a key location of British motor car history, which, at one time employed 25,000 workers.
With limited time, and very overcast skies, we chose not to walk and made the short drive to the car park at Beacon Hill. We had expected some kind of ascent but to our surprise, the parking area is at the top of the hill, 100 m from the summit (298 m / 978 ft).
We headed across the short, golf-green standard grass to what looked like a child’s play castle. It was, in fact the location of the toposcope (see photographs) and was built to commemorate the donation of the land as a public area by the Cadbury dynasty. We climbed the western tower (5 steps) and took in the view. It is impressive and I could finally understand the ‘magic’ for those who had grown up in the flat, industrial heartland below.
Despite the low cloud, we could clearly see the buildings of Birmingham city centre and its surrounding suburbs. The view west from the car park offers a wonderful view of the Malvern Hills across the flood plain of the Severn Valley. Apparently, on clearer days you can see the Sugar Loaf above Abergavenny.
Learned and Affirmed
We are Lynne and Andrew from Single Steps Learning. Our love of learning and exploring has inspired us to take up 'hill-walking'. We hope to progress from novice to expert! This is our journey.