Bournville and the Rea Valley Cycle

A delightful circular cycle route of 21km (13 miles) along good quality canal towpaths, quiet green roads and pathways through parks, much of it along National Cycle Route 5 – you will see some of Birmingham’s canal network, smell chocolate in the air at Bournville (the home of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk), the Rea Valley Cycle Route and Cannon Hill Park.

Note there is a short section of steps on this route, taking you over a bridge from one side of the canal to the other, that you will need to take your bike up. It consists of approx 15 steps up in total, though there is a ramped alternative over the road/pavement with just a few steps down (approx 6) back onto the canal instead.

Start this cycle outside the Ikon Gallery at Brindley Place (map location here).

Facing the entrance to the Ikon, turn left to head towards Central Square of Brindley Place where the Costa Coffee pavilion is located. Head over to the right hand side of the coffee shop towards Sealife Centre and take the passageway to the left of the Sealife centre towards the Birmingham Indoor Arena.

Don’t cross over to the other side of the canal, but turn right along the near side to head along the canal around to the right (map point 1). Keep following the canal all the way through to the Mailbox but do not go up over the metal bridge to the Mailbox but follow the canal round to the right to start to head out of the city (map point 2).

Keep following the canal towpath, eventually heading through a long tunnel (approx 100m long). Once the other side of the tunnel, you will come to a small hump backed brick bridge taking you over to the other side of the canal and into The Vale, part of the University of Birmingham accommodation campus (map point 3).

Don’t go over the bridge but keep following the canal towpath, and after approximately 2km from the long tunnel you will come to some steps up off the canal leading to the University train station – an alternative start point to this cycle (map point 4). Don’t exit the canal here unless popping up to have a look at the University grounds, but keep following the canal towpath out of the city.

After approximately 3km from the University train station steps, you will come to the canal exit for Bournville train station (map point 5). Come off the canal at this exit, heading up the ramp and turn right at the top to cross over the bridge over the train tracks along Mary Vale Road (map point 6). If you can smell chocolate in the air, it’s because you are at the home of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk!

Cycle along Mary Vale Road until you reach the crossroads with Linden Road, turn right onto Linden Road to head down hill and then first left onto Bournville Lane. Linden Road can be busy so take care crossing here or hop off your bike briefly and use a nearby pedestrian crossing point.

Continue along Bournville Lane and turn first right into Beech Road (map point 7). Head down here and into Bournville Park, continuing straight ahead through the park and out the other side onto Thorn Road. At the end turn right onto Woodbrooke Road (map point 8) and cycle along to the end where it meats the main A4040 Linden Road.

Just on your right will be a pedestrian crossing across the road – we suggest you hop off your bikes here, take the crossing and find somewhere secure to lock your bikes whilst you take a short walk around this lovely area. Here you can find some shops for refreshments, the Bournville Carillon and Rest House, the Selly Manor Museum and of course Cadbury World!

George Cadbury and his elder brother, Richard, had made a success of their father’s chocolate business, moving from Birmingham city centre to the current site in 1879, though back then this was in the countryside! George’s Quaker beliefs were a very strong influence and he had a great concern for the way people lived in overcrowded back streets at the time. Life expectancy was just 40 years old at the end of the 19th Century. His vision was of a mixed community, so Bournville was conceived for people from a wide range of backgrounds, not only the workers at the chocolate factory. Many have credited George Cadbury’s Bournville village as the forerunner of future garden cities and of showing the benefit of green open space in modern town planning.

Selly Manor Museum lies at the heart of Bournville garden village and has a surprising history. It dates from medieval times – the hall is around 750 years old – and its intriguing past includes an Italian wine merchant, a burglar and a world famous chocolate maker! See more at https://sellymanormuseum.org.uk/

When you are back on your bike, head right up Linden Road after the crossing, passing Sycamore Road on your left, and keep going until you reach Bournville Lane and turn left this time. Head along here past the Cadbury buildings and turn first right into Franklin Way (map point 9), then first left into Mary Vale Road and back to the entrance onto the canal at Bournville train station. Go back down onto the canal and turn right at the bottom to continue along the canal in an out-of-town direction.

After approximately 800m you will go under a bridge and then find some steps on your right that take you back over the bridge and onto the canal towpath on the opposite side of the canal. If you prefer not to carry your bike up these steps, take the roadway up and over the bridge instead, though there are approximately 6 steps back down onto the canal towpath from the top of the bridge on the other side still.

Continue along the towpath and after only approximately 150m you will see an exit gate off the canal on your left, with signs for Rea Valley Cycle Route and the number 5 (National Cycle Route 5 map point 10). Take this path and follow the National Cycle Route 5 signs (they can be small, usually on lamp posts, so keep a look out for them!) all the way back to Cannon Hill Park, detailed directions as follows.

After coming off the canal go through the barriers and head down the road in front of you (for approx 90 metres).

Turn right at the t-junction and cycle along Dacer Close and follow it round to the left until you see the sign for the Rea Valley Cycle Route on your right hand side (after approx 120 metres map point 11).

Follow this sign onto the path and follow the path until it comes out at a main road A4040 Fordhouse Lane (after approx 285 metres).

Cross over the road at the lights and follow the path straight ahead of you until you come to the next road – Hazelwell Road (after approx 350 metres).

Cross over this road to the pavement on the other side, turn right along this pavement and follow the Rea Valley Cycle Route round to the left (don’t go into the trading estate but keep on the path to the left of the fence) (map point 12). You eventually come to another main road – Cartland Road (after approx 600 metres).

Cross over the road at the cycle/pedestrian crossing and continue straight ahead along the Rea Valley Cycle Route until you reach the next road – Dogpool Lane/Moor Green Lane (after approx 750 metres).

Turn left here, cross over at the cycle/pedestrian crossing, and take the road on your right Cecil Road. Cycle along Cecil Road to the end (for approx 265 metres).

Turn right at the end and follow the path straight ahead of you into the park area, that bends round to the left behind the houses, and follow this path past the first bridge on your right, and turn right over the second bridge on your right (after approx 625 metres).

Follow the main path round to the left from the other side of the bridge and follow the main wide path into the main part of Cannon Hill Park (for approx 800 metres) (map point 13).

Take the main cycle pathway up to the right in the park, and follow this as it bends round to the left, and keep cycling ahead, past a bandstand on your right, and a cafe on your right, until you see some large metal entrance/exit gates on Edgbaston Road ahead of you (after approx 750 metres).

Stay within the park and take the path off to the left before you get to these gates and follow this path down to the MAC Centre (toilet in here!) – the main building within the park (after approx 350 metres).

Turn right through the main gates just before the MAC, cycling out over the bridge over the River Rea, crossing straight ahead over the car park access road to follow the curved road – The Boulevard – that runs in front of the apartment building ahead on your left, to the Aldi supermarket access road – The Ashes (for approx 200 metres).

Keep going ahead over The Ashes access road, past Aldi supermarket on your left, to the main road – Edgbaston Road, with Edgbaston Test Cricket Ground straight ahead of you on the other side of the road (after approx 55 metres).

Hope off your bike here if you don’t like the busy roads, and cross over this main road at the pedestrian lights and turn left to push your bike along the pavement, crossing over the entrance road to the cricket ground car park, along to the next main road – Pershore Road A441 (after approx 140 metres).

Cross over at this main road – take care as there isn’t a separate cycle/pedestrian crossing so you will need to wait until the car traffic lights are on red. Continue ahead up Priory Road (for approx 200 metres) until you reach the main Bristol Road A38 and at the pedestrian crossing go over to the other side and turn right to go along the cycle lane that runs alongside the road (map point 14).

Continue along the cycle lane/pavement until you come to Sir Harry’s Road on your left (after approx 380 metres). Turn left and cycle all the way up Sir Harrys Road (map point 15) to where it finishes at the junction with Wellington Road (for approx 575 metres).

Cross straight over the road here to continue cycling straight ahead along Ampton Road to the next junction with Arthur Road (after approx 185 metres). Turn right onto Arthur Road and cycle along here, following it round to the left, to just past the junction with Carpenter Road.

Look for the cycle lane white paint markings in the middle of the road here as you will be leaving the road to head down a passageway off to your right, marked with cycling signs, between buildings, which takes you out onto Pakenham Road (map point 16).

For a detailed route map click here

Continue to cycle along Pakenham Road to the crossroads with Charlotte Road (after approx 325 metres). Cross straight over into Ryland Road (map point 17) and cycle along until you reach the green space on your left (after approx 230 metres) then take the path diagonally across the green space on your left that leads to the cycle/pedestrian crossing over the main A4540 Lee Bank Middleway.

Cross to the other side and turn right to cycle along the pavement for approx 40m and then turn left through the barriers onto Colbrand Grove just by St Thomas Childrens Centre. Head along Colbrand Grove to the end then turn left onto Bell Barn Road. After approx 100m turn off the road onto the snaking path on your right up the hill to take you between the two parks – Moonlit Park on your right and Sunset Park on your left.

At the top of the path turn left onto Mosedale Way and follow this to the crossroads. Go straight on here into Cregoe Street and cycle along to the crossroads with B4127 Bath Row. Head straight over here into Granville Street (you may wish to get off your bike and use the zebra crossing on your left if the road is busy) and continue along Granville Street (map point 19).

Take the second right into Commercial Street (no entry for cars but allowed for bikes) and continue along until you find the entrance into the Cube on your left and the end of this route. From here you can push your bike through the Cube and out onto the canals on the other side where you can follow it back along the canal towpath to Brindley Place where this route began.