“In the words of one of the founders of the Trust, Octavia Hill, the Clent Hills are an ‘urban sitting room’ – a place where a great diversity of people come to for tranquillity and fresh air.” - Anna Russell, National Trust
The Clent Hills have been enjoyed by day-trippers from nearby Midlands towns and cities for over 200 years. A short walk leads through woodland to the top of a hill where on a clear day the Welsh Black Mountains are visible on the horizon. Visitors in spring will see the hillside and woodland floor coloured lilac by bluebells.
Points of interest
Just eight miles from Birmingham city centre, the Clent Hills have attracted huge numbers of visitors since the early 19th century when they formed a picturesque back drop for Hagley Park, the fine home and estate of Lord Lyttelton. One Victorian report raised concerns about ‘midnight revelling’ and to discourage such rowdiness the park gates were locked to the public for a while. This didn’t last for long though and by the early 1900s, the hills were more popular than ever.
Donkey rides and grass-toboganning were among the activities that thrilled visitors but led to quite severe erosion of the Clent grassland. At the same time local farmers grazed their sheep and cattle less and less on the hills. All this meant that if the open landscape wasn’t being churned into mud by tourists, it was being invaded by bracken and scrub. Today the National Trust is restoring acid heathland here. It is now a rare habitat throughout the UK, but a great environment for supporting birds like linnet, butterflies such as the small heath and small copper, and solitary bees.
Despite being close to a major city, there is a good variety of wildlife to search for in the Clent Hills. Try to spot birds like buzzard, yellowhammer, redstart and warblers. Butterflies can also be seen flitting over the grassland in summer.
As you walk through "Horse’s Mane Woodland", you’ll pass lots of old beech ‘pollards’. These are 250 year old trees which were cut just above head height so that they sprouted a mass of branches low down, providing food for livestock. Today, they are home to insects, beetles and nesting birds.
Many paths criss-cross the National Trust’s Clent Hills estate. If you want to extend your walk and explore the area further, try taking a route off to the south west from The Four Stones, towards Adam’s Hill, for more interesting countryside and Clent village (see dotted-line on this map). Refer to an OS map to help plan where to go.
Must See Places!
The mystical Four Stones on the summit of Clent Hill were created in the 18th century for Lord Lyttleton as a folly to be viewed from down in the valley by visitors. - David Noton, National Trust
‘Bicknall’ Beacon on Clent Hill was such a good viewpoint that in 1588 it was used as part of a chain of bonfires which sent warning of the Spanish Armada into the Midlands. - David Noton, National Trust
Getting there and facilities
The Clent Hills are SW of Birmingham, not far from the M5 (Junction 4 then the A491). Regular buses (Kidderminster-Birmingham) take you within 10mins walk of the start of the walk. Go to www.traveline.org.uk for public travel advice. Map & start grid ref: OS Explorer 219, SO 938807. Facilities include accessible toilets, a café, picnic spot and information point. A National Trust leaflet is available with more walk options around the Clent Hills.