Photographer and BA Politics alumnus Simon Felton has long been inspired by urban regeneration: old ways leading to new developments; burgeoning nature in the built environment; places for people to enjoy.
Exploring his city on two wheels? That is a recent passion gifted by coronavirus lockdown, when Simon fetched his trusty bike from the back of the shed.
Cycling suddenly made sense. He could take exercise outdoors, reconnect with his neighbourhood, and uncover hidden gems further afield. He now rides two or three times per week, capturing the summer sights with his stunning photography.
To mark National Bike Week, I caught up with Simon to ask about his three favourite rides starting close to campus.
You can take part in National Bike Week by choosing cycling as your daily exercise like Simon, and posting a photo to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Strava under #7daysofcycling. Everyone who posts under the hashtag will be entered in a prize draw.
Simon will be back studying at the university in October, when he begins a degree apprenticeship in leadership. Here are three of his favourite explorations, the routes of which are on this map.
If you want to get into cycling, the university offers plenty of support to budding bikers.
1. Harborne’s housing history
This route travels through Harborne via the Harborne Walkway, formerly a local railway and now a beautiful wood-shaded route, and taking in John Nettlefold’s Moor Pool Estate and the manicured open space of the Calthorpe Estate. The astronomer’s mural at Oak Close is a must-see. Starting and finishing near the Birmingham–Worcester canal, this route is easily extended.
Immaculately cut grass at Sir Richards Drive.
Street art on wall of Oak Close.
2. Green spaces and blue tarmac
A route under leafy canopies and starting and finishing on the blue tarmac of the new A38 cycle route, taking in the beautiful Cannon Hill Park, and a view of the Rea valley and the city from near the middleway.
Blue cycle superhighway, with green canopy above.
A quieter Cannon Hill Park, donated to the city by Louisa Ryland.
City view from Balsall Heath Road.
3. Smethwick loop
A jaunt along the canal from Brindleyplace to Smethwick and through Bearwood to the Edgbaston Reservoir.
Iron aqueduct 1825 constructed by Thomas Telford.
Wooded section by the reservoir.
The new Port Loop development from the reservoir.