Adventures in Birmingham: Midlands Discovery Tours – Canal walk

Readers of this blog will know how much I have grown to love walking discovery tours. What started as a way of getting to know San Francisco on a short trip there, grew to having  month of to discover my home town, Bedford. In the last year or so, it’s been an excellent way of getting to know about the very Birmingham streets I walk in every day.

A group of us mostly strangers and a few from my girls social network (Out with the Girls) turned up on a wet Sunday – the first in ages! – to meet at the council building and with  warming hot chocolate beverage, set out to discover the stories behind the canals.

You’d think the number of walks I’ve been on with our trust guide Ian Braisby, I’d be doing his job for him (it is actually a secret dream job of mine) and yet I learn new Birmingham facts every time.

Britain’s canal capital

For example, the oft asked question is answered; are there more canals in Birmingham than Venice? How many?

Why there is a round-a-bout in the middle of the canal near Brindleyplace.

What the connection is between cage fighters and canal boat workers.

The generations of canal boat workers and how at one time the canals were privatised and tolls had to be paid to get through.

How the canals link Birmingham up to other towns and cities.

Apart from the imagined stench, we were taken right back to the times when canal boats were the main transportation for companies such as Cadburys (who despite moving away from the city centre still have their base near the canal in Bourenville) and especially for the heavy goods movement of the breweries.

As well as the canal history, we learnt about the beginnings and subsequent uses of a variety of buildings along the canal way, especially what is now The Brasshouse and the beautiful Round House and how Saturday Bridge got it’s name..

This is just a fraction of what I learnt. To book a place on a forthcoming walk, visit the Midlands Discovery Tours website here Then have fun spouting facts to your friends as you walk along the delight that is Birmingham canals.

Follow @MidsDiscovery or @IanBraisby