Birmingham for older travellers: a good choice for a holiday?
Whether you’re nearing retirement or enjoying it to the full, travel is a highlight as you get a little older. You have the luxury of more time to enjoy and appreciate the places you visit – and the freedom to choose your destination without needing to keep the kids entertained.
Unfortunately, you may find it a challenge to make the most of some English cities and tourist attractions. Steep or uneven pathways; long drives or walks; limited peaceful spots to to pause and rest. Beautiful historic locations just aren’t designed with practicality in mind. And even if your own mobility and stamina don’t pose a problem, friends and family may not be so fortunate.
Here’s the good news: there’s no need to limit yourself. These handpicked ideas for a visit to Birmingham guarantee you a great experience in the heart of the West Midlands.
Sunday lunch on the Shakespeare Express
Vintage Trains offer a Sunday service from central Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon, in a vintage carriage pulled by a heritage steam engine.
Sit back and enjoy the view of the beautiful Warwickshire countryside. You’ll be served a full traditional roast with all the trimmings, cooked for you on the train itself. If your prefer to travel at another time of day, a full English breakfast or High Tea is also available, or choose a tasty picnic hamper to share with family or friends. Then take a relaxed stroll around the pretty town of Stratford, before relaxing on the return journey to Birmingham.
Tour the city by boat
Birmingham’s industrial heritage can be appreciated without needing to walk for miles, with a relaxing boat trip on the canal.
Sherborne Wharf offer daily cruises from the city centre, on a traditional canal boat. The tours take 65 minutes, and are the ideal way to see the history of the city unfold through its changing architecture. Entry into the boat will be via a small number of steps; there may not be a handrail.
Alternatively, head just ten miles north-east of Birmingham to Dudley Canal and Tunnel Tours. For passengers with limited mobility, an accessible boat is available with a platform lift, and space for one electric or two manual wheelchairs; tour guide information is also available in alternative formats for the visually or hearing impaired.
Afternoon tea at Winterbourne House and Garden
Visit a beautiful Edwardian home and a Grade II-listed botanic garden in one.
Winterbourne House was built in 1903 by John and Margaret Nettlefold for their growing family. Now owned by the University of Birmingham, it’s been fully restored in its original Arts and Crafts style, offering a unique insight into their family life. The stunning gardens are spread over 7 acres, featuring rare plants, glasshouses and a Japanese bridge. After a stroll, relax in the Terrace Tea Room, or visit the gift shop for plants, garden ornaments, jewellery and unique mementoes that commemorate the house and its history.
The house offers lift access to the first floor, and mobility scooters are available. The garden features some steps, and some uneven and grassed paths, but much of it is easily accessible; ask for a map at reception.
Wildlife and views at Edgbaston Reservoir
Get some fresh air and relaxation at this pretty stretch of water. Edgbaston Reservoir was built by Thomas Telford in 1872, and the site’s 70 acres are mostly taken up with open water. It’s also a nature reserve, home to a host of British birds and other wildlife.
From the car park, there’s an easy, level surfaced path for a circular walk under 2 miles, including some pretty woodland areas. From the dam you’ll enjoy impressive views across the city. For a longer walk, link up with the canal nearby. Or head into nearby Harborne to enjoy a drink in one of the High Street’s friendly traditional pubs.
When you stay at Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre, all this is on your doorstep. In fact, you’ll find Winterbourne House and Garden just across the road from the hotel. If you’re resident in England, your older person’s bus pass will give you free travel on all services; West Midlands residents get free train travel, too.
If you need any help with finding your way around, or a few more tips for places to visit from locals who really know, just ask at reception. Birmingham is a friendly city, and we love to help guests see its highlights.