on June 22, 2013
A place in South Birmingham I love is the Duck Ponds, part of the Lickey Hills Country Park and nestled within the grounds of the Rose & Crown hotel. I've been visiting since I was a child and it's such a calm and beautiful place that these days I visit with my own children, it's a lovely 'natural' area where they can run free for a while if we're just popping along for a short time or we've even taken a picnic in the past and had a relaxing few hours within this relatively small area. If you can call having your sandwiches bothered by ducks relaxing!The duck ponds themselves are obviously the main draw; these are currently undergoing a little revamp to have the stone edgings whitened and strengthened, the ducks are currently homeless so tend to be wandering around the area meaning you need to look out for them if you want to give them some bread - although to be honest they're so incredibly well fed that they don't always want to eat what you're offering anyway! This really is a lovely area in which to spend an hour or two; aside from the ponds you have a gentle hilly walk up towards a small section of woodland, a reasonably sized crazy golf course, an actual golf course to the side and lots of fresh air. It's a great place to do a bit of exercise as once you've moved away from the car park you can strike out in any direction - with the added bonus of the kids being able to run around without fear of anything happening to them, other than of course the requisite fall over on the lumpy bumpy ground (the kids that is, not the adults!). If you visit in late spring/early summer you'll be presented with the wonderful sight of a carpet of bluebells as you head into the wooded area, this really is something special as you have to be right up close to see them properly - this may not be as huge and impressive as some bluebell fields in the Midlands but it makes for an impressive sight when you stumble upon it with no forewarning. Likewise we visited at the tail end of a long cold UK winter, the snow had pretty much disappeared everywhere by then but as we walked upwards to the trees we found patches of unmelted snow which seemed quite surreal on a pretty warm sunny winters day - it made for slippery walking conditions however, I've never seen black ice like we encountered that day and we ended up turning back after a short distance. This is what I love about the duck ponds however, depending on the season you can see and do so much in a lovely natural environment - it changes so much from month to month, we try to make semi-regular visits in order to show the younger children a little bit about how things change depending on the time if year. It's great actually as this area is kept tidy enough by the groundsmen that it's safe and comfortable to walk around, but also left in as natural a state as possible for people to enjoy. Alongside the car park there's a small cafe which serves hot drinks and a small selection of snack type meals. It seems to have strange and irregular opening hours so we don't always catch it (or indeed rely on it if we're hungry!), I've had the odd cup of coffee from there or treated the kids to a muffin and the quality is good but I find it to be rather overpriced for what it is. I heartily recommend a trip to the duck ponds if you're ever in the area, it's probably not somewhere you'd travel a distance to see but is a nice change from the usual commercial attractions if you're visiting or living in Birmingham and the surrounding area.
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