Birmingham, England

Birmingham Canals Paths

Photo: Tanya J.

Birmingham’s canals hail from the city’s Industrial Revolution boom, when locals needed a quick and efficient way to move goods. Today, the canals form quick and efficient running routes with miles of paved “towpaths” which parallel the water. Here are a few route suggestions: mainly on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal trail  along the west side of the canal, but also on along a trail nothwest to

Route 1: Mailbox to University of Birmingham. The crown jewel of these canal routes starts at the “Mailbox,” a former post center which is now the heart of the city center. After crossing a footbridge beyond the Ramada hotel, the path winds up past Gas Street Basin, the National Indoor Arena, and the aquarium. Just before that confluence, you can take a left onto the Old Line Canal, which loops back around to the main canal. Cross over the St. Vincent Street Bridge, take a right, and keep going up the other side of the canal on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal path until you hit Newhall Street, and turn around. Once you reach the initial start near the Mailbox, you can extend your trip with a right turn onto Old Line Canal. Go out about 1.25 miles and return to complete a route of about 5 miles.

Route 2: New Street Station to Bournville. For a longer canals run, start out at New Street Station and head south on  the Worcester and Birmingham Canal trail. If you get tired, you can take the train back from University (2.5 miles) Selly Oak ( 3.5 miles) or Bourneville (4.5 miles).

Route 3: Bournville to Drawbridge. This route continues south and east of Bournville and is is suggested from Tanya J. From Bournville, continue along the canal heading south, to a fork in the canal at a pretty bridge in King’s Norton (2 km mark). Turn left (East) and you can run for as long as your legs take you. There is just one trick. After 2.5km, the canal goes through a tunnel. Run up the path, turn left at the road, run uphill then right at the main road. Cross the lights continuing in the direction of the canal, and pick up the path on the other side (slightly to left, you head straight downhill). Then once you get back on the path and meet the canal, you can keep on running!. The path is tar until it turns to a gravel path after about 7km. At 9 km, you reach the Drawbridge, which has a pub, and the Shirley train station, allowing for a one-way run!

  • Alternatives: At the canal fork in King’s Norton, continue straight ahead the path for 1.5km. Pretty, but short. You can also turn RIGHT at the fork and run through sort of a linear park path through King’s Norton Park and West Heath Park. Not my fave, but good for a change.

Route 4: Wolverhampton Canal Trail. Also suggested by Tanya J. From the Gas Basin in central Birmingham, there is a lovely run along the Wolverhampton canal. It’s much more industrial along this route, which has its own charms. You can follow it all the way to Wolverhampton, which makes a handy half marathon distance, and get the train back (there is a race for this route). A good part of this path is also labelled National Cycle Rte 81. A nice 13km out and back is from Gas Basin to Smethwick Galton Bridge, though there is also a train station there which allows for a one-way run.

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