Hidden Gems of Birmingham - Cannon Hill Park

Scratch beneath the surface of our city and you'll find some real hidden gems. So we have set out to explore the best-kept secrets and unsung heroes of Birmingham. This week, Laura ventures to Cannon Hill Park...

When I pulled up in my car at the Pershore Road entrance to Cannon Hill Park, I was immediately pleased with the ample parking which spanned the length of the park itself. It was busy, but I found a parking spot quickly and set out with my dog to explore on a Friday afternoon.

Cannon Hill Park is a beautiful and large park spanning 250 acres, including formal, conservation, woodland and sports areas, with numerous ponds and lakes, and impeccably designed flowerbeds. The park was designed by T J Gibson, who also designed Battersea Park in London, and opened in 1873. We started our walk on the left side of the park, passing a family of ducks and ducklings, and a blue heron at one of the little ponds. The flowers at Cannon Hill Park are amazing – so many different varieties, as well as blooming trees and bushes – a must-visit for any plant lover. There is also plenty of green grassy spots, perfect for picnicking and playing. We passed The Garden Tearoom, which was brimming with people, and lots of scrumptious-looking cakes.

Cannon Hill Park is more than just pretty flowers and ponds, there is something for everyone – it also features five tennis courts, where you can take lessons in the sport, a 36 hole outdoor mini-golf course (called the Golden Putter, open at weekends), and a funfair with a small roller coaster for kids open weekends, weather permitting. There are also two children’s play centres, one is by the MAC building, and the other is near the entrance to the Pershore Road car park. They’ve recently added Pedalo swan boats to their largest lake to operate during the summer season, which look like lots of fun!

Another great feature of the park is the MAC (Midlands Arts Centre) building, which always has lots going on – including theatre performances, dancing workshops, choir practice, crocheting clubs, and art exhibits – the MAC is a haven for artistic and creative types, as well as those who appreciate and would like to learn more about them. There is also a café at the MAC serving hot and cold drinks, snacks and treats. On the day I was at the park, there was live acoustic music in the courtyard, which lots of people were sitting to enjoy.
As I continued along the 5km route suggested on the Cannon Hill Park website, I came across a beautiful 16th century timbered house. It is a Grade II listed building moved to this location in 1911 by the Birmingham Archaeological Society, though sadly it is now fenced off as it is in a poor state of repair. It is beautiful to look at nevertheless!

I took a moment to reflect at the beautiful and moving memorials for the Scouts men and women who have died in WWI and WWII, as well as the other statues and memorials placed around the park. One particularly notable one is the memorial to the dead of the Second Boer War in South Africa. As of July 2016, there is also a large floral tribute to Birmingham located by the tennis courts – it includes some running shoes, a hummingbird and flower, tennis rackets, children on a seesaw, and a man with a Great Birmingham Run shirt, all made of and surrounded by flowers, grasses and wicker wood.

For the fitness buff, every Saturday morning at 9am, a free 5km parkrun event is held at Cannon Hill Park. It is an all-inclusive timed run, and I’ve been told it is currently the second largest parkrun in the UK, with over 800 runners at points. There is a tree walk you can take which starts from The Garden Tearoom. Also, British Military Fitness conduct classes in the park six days per week.

I am pleased to have discovered Cannon Hill Park, located across the road from Edgbaston Cricket Ground, off Pershore Road. My dog met plenty of other friendly pups to run around with (and scared a few geese who have made the lake area their home!), I have walked the length of it and resolved to take up tennis lessons there, and I will check out an upcoming show at the MAC. Cannon Hill Park truly is a wonderful place to spend a sunny afternoon.

Review written by SWOOPE content partner Laura Smith. Check out her blog here: http://sarahpluslaura.blogspot.de/

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