Travel | Exploring the West Midlands

Couple posing in the Forest of Dean next to giant chair sculpture

For our Summer holiday this year Harry and I decided to stay in the UK and spend some time in a part of the country that we'd never been to before, the West Midlands! Together we've travelled to Yorkshire, Wales and Cornwall over the years and having lived in East Anglia and the South East we've covered almost everywhere except the West (well, that and Scotland!). After doing a little research we discovered there aren't that many places available to stay in that part of the country so we decided to give AirBnB a go. Our plan was to book a few different self-catering apartments to split our week between to enable us to visit as many different places as possible. 

Lunch at the Crazy Fox

On our first day we travelled down to Bristol from our apartment which was based between Hereford and Gloucester. Yes it was still a pretty long drive but it was worth it. I visited the most amazing Primark I've ever been in (it had four floors AND a Costa Coffee in it!!) we grabbed lunch at a cute independent coffee bar, we strolled along the river listening to the live music and I even spotted a Banksy! It was great fun, we loved Bristol, top marks from us. In the evening we headed back to our apartment where Harry cooked us an amazing steak dinner and I drank Pimms that looked like wee (is Pimms without fruit even still Pimms?!). 

Home made steak and salad served on a dining table

The following day (I think, I can't quite remember) we packed a picnic and set off for the Forest of Dean where we got lost for at least half an hour because the SatNav had no idea where we were. When we finally got there it was 98% about to rain so instead of sitting at one of the nice picnic benches we stuffed our faces in the car. It didn't rain. We got out the car and I almost died walking up an incredibly steep hill but I made it to the top (I'm not sure that the elderly people we passed did, I think they may have turned back but I'm not sure as we never did see them again) and we took this photo at the summit next to a massive chair made from logs. The Sculpture Trial didn't quite live up to its name as we saw approximately three sculpture-like things during our hour long trek and then gave up. 

Montage of photos from the Forest of Dean

Gloucester was marginally more successful we visited the cathedral where they filmed Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I really wanted to take a selfie and digitally add the bloody writing of 'enemies of the heir... beware ' but I wasn't sure it was entirely appropriate so I didn't. It was still fun although I was a tad disappointed that we didn't make it to the village of Lacock as planned because lots of Harry Potter scenes were filmed there too. While in Gloucester we went to Costa for coffee (lot's of coffee needed this holiday) and visited the beautiful dockyard which has been redeveloped and now holds lots of shops and restaurants. I really want to live here, it's gorgeous.  

Gloucester Locks

On another rainy picnic day (honestly we didn't have much luck with our picnics) we visited Kenilworth Castle. We drove around in circles quite a bit because it looked like it was going to rain before pulling into the car park and just eating in the car AGAIN. We jumped out to have a quick look around and take some selfies but as the clouds were rolling in we decided not to actually go-in and pay the £10ish entry price just for it to then pour down - which this time it did. It's a shame as the castle did actually look really cool with lots to walk around, and walls to scale, you can just about see a bridge in the first image that you can climb up to. 

Montage of photos from Kenilworth Castle

We also went to Bourton on the Water which was an incredibly picturesque village, full of coaches of elderly and Japanese tourists all hankering after a cream tea. It had a Christmas shop and everything. We stopped for lunch and I seem to not have taken any photos - probably because that was the day I decided to wear my tall wedges and a short skirt and it turned out to be windy and balancing trying to take photos with my big DSLR wasn't the best idea I had and besides there were people literally everywhere you could look. I do have this one of some stones that look like toadstools though.

Stream at Bourton on the Water

We really enjoyed our time in the West Midlands, I can't believe we had never visited that part of the country before now! Going to Bristol was definitely one of the highlights but there are so so many different villages and towns to visit. It was a different kind of holiday for us as there aren't that many tourist attractions around (which is probably why there aren't many holiday parks around there) and we ended up doing a LOT of driving to the many different places that we wanted to take a wander round and pretty much just using our apartments as a base. Our favourite places to visit though were definitely Oxford and Stratford Upon Avon hence why they got their own posts! Another place that gets a special mention, although I don't have a photograph of it, is the AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) Malvern Hills, we drove through here after following the tourist signs on our way back from dinner in Worcester and the views at sunset were stunning!

Although I don't think we will take a holiday in the West Midlands again there are a lot of places that we want to go back to so I think we will look at either driving to or staying a night in some of these places, particularly Oxford and Bristol. Please let me know what your favourite places to visit in the West Midlands are, and let me know if there are any that I missed out on!

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