Walked: Wednesday 8th January 2020
Distance: 5.98 miles (9.62km); Total ascent: 460ft (140m)
gpx file at: https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/route/4304429/Sutton-Park-RegionTrackedRoadFootpathWater20200108Jan2020SuttonColdfieldflat
We were looking for somewhere for a decent walk on a day out, but not inclined to risk unknown footpaths given the seemingly never-ending rain and consequent flooding and mud. Sutton Park, in Sutton Coldfield seemed to fit the bill. I had been there as a teenager with my parents when my French exchange friend was visiting, and had vague memories of it. The varied landscape appealed, but with proper paths for walking, though in the event we still had to detour because of water-logged ground.
The journey from home was straightforward, taking about an hour. There were a lot of cars parked on the verges when we arrived (Why not use the car park? It’s free at this time of year.) which was a surprise given that it was an grey, overcast, midweek, January day, but there were details in the visitors’ centre of lots of activities. The park is a wonderful resource for local people. It is large enough to accommodate 32,000 Scouts from all over the world camping at a Jamboree in 1957.
We called briefly at the visitors’ centre, which has only two toilets (one for disabled people). Even on our visit there was a queue and two can’t possibly be enough for a hot sunny summer holiday day with lots of families using the park.
We then took an anti-clockwise route round the park with the aim of getting a feel for the place. The terrain is very varied, ranging from a golf course to heathland. There are large areas of open grass land, and several small pools. A goods railway line runs through the park. We crossed over the railway on a wide roadbridge and later crossed back through a pedestrial tunnel. The plan had been to turn sharp left and stay beside the railway line for a hundred yards before veering right. However the ground was impassably flooded and we kept having to go further and further right to find a reasonable way through.
We got back on proper paths and walked to the path junction with the Jamboree memorial, and stopped nearby for lunch. We were a little bothered by dogs who wanted a share. One collie had a good sniff and hung around but wasn’t really a problem. Later two pug dogs were a nuisance; one even jumped on to my lap to get at my roll. He wasn’t agressive but it could have been very upsetting for someone less confident with dogs. The owner’s apology was minimal.
After a pleasant walk we arrived back at the visitors’ centre and car park. I expect we will make a return visit, the only small disappointment is the relatively flatness; it would not be suitable for training for hill walking.
The whole walk was good practice of some basic navigation. After our detour described above we used map orientation to confirm our location. I took bearings several times to confirm which path to take at junctions, and used a bearing to get a route to the north of Powell’s Pool. We went a little off the intended route but, as is often the case on this sort of terrain, the actual paths on the ground don’t quite tally with those on the map.