Sick of the city and needing some fresh air? Fear not, Birmingham is built in the midst of what was once the clearing of the ancient forest of Arden.
Alas, not much of the forest remains now, but Birmingham is nestled amongst some truly stunning countryside that's home to some great towns and villages.
Whether you’re after folk festivals, old world pubs or country walks, these places have it all and, though they’d never admit it, they’re pretty much suburbs of Birmingham! So, in no particular order, Liam Shaughnessy takes a look at five of the best places for a day-out from Brum...
Warwick is a beautiful market town and, straddling the banks of its river, is one of Europe’s best preserved medieval castles. Home to secret gardens, summer festivals, great restaurants and a lively market square, and only 20 minutes from Snow Hill, Warwick is a gem.
Follow the road out of Warwick and the architecture changes gradually from high medieval to high regency. Leamington Spa looks like someone cut out a big slice of Mayfair and dumped it in the middle of the countryside. Chic and elegant, Leamington Spa is a must for shoppers and eaters.
Go West out of Birmingham and the landscape quickly morphs into a bucolic landscape of rolling fields, ancient oaks and quaint villages. Belbroughton sits at the centre of a network of villages joined by quiet lanes and footpaths. The traditional home of Britain’s scythe making industry, Belbroughton is England at its finest.
The cathedral alone makes Lichfield well worth the short trip from New Street station. A dramatic, three-spired Gothic masterpiece surrounded by narrow streets and with a lively market nearby, the cathedral is a true spectacle.
Perhaps just slightly outside Birmingham’s orbit is Shrewsbury, a beautifully preserved town built on a bend in the mighty river Severn. With countless pubs, restaurants and ancient buildings to explore, Shrewsbury sits at the centre of Shropshire’s thriving rural economy and, despite the tourists, feels authentic. Well worth the short trip from New Street.