IT looks unpromising on the map, so it can come as a surprise to discover how attractive the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal is between Stourport and Kidderminster. For much of the way the canal is bordered to the west by wooded cliffs, which hide numerous industrial sites from the view of the walker. The east bank is quite different, bordered by pasture, paddocks, damp meadows, marshland and woodland of the meandering river Stour’s floodplain.

It’s not just the surrounding environment which is enjoyable, but also the canal itself. From Stourport to Bullock’s Lane Bridge the towpath now forms part of the Geopark Way, but some of the most attractive sections are further north, well beyond Bullock’s Lane.

At the intriguingly named Falling Sands Lock, for instance, an unusual cast-iron footbridge crosses the canal and a tempting path climbs a wooded bank, although it’s not a right of way and doesn’t go very far. Caldwall Bridge, by Caldwall Lock, gives access to a small cave carved out of the sandstone. The impressive railway viaduct which crosses the canal near here is used by the steam trains of the Severn Valley Railway travelling between Kidderminster and Bewdley.

Just a couple of minutes after leaving the towpath in Kidderminster you reach Brinton Park, which was opened in 1902 and restored recently. A heritage trail has been devised and provided with interpretation panels. The trail is an optional extra but what is perhaps its most interesting feature is on the route of this walk.

It’s a grand and unexpected Renaissance-style drinking fountain with tiles of glazed Doultonware. It was built as a memorial to Richard Eve (1831-1900) who in 1889 became Grand Treasurer of England’s Free Masons, but failed in his efforts to get himself elected as a Liberal MP for Kidderminster.

It’s a short walk from Brinton Park to Rifle Range and Devil’s Spittleful, two adjacent nature reserves which are managed as a single unit in a partnership between Wyre Forest District Council and Worcestershire Wildlife Trust. The reserves comprise lowland heath, a habitat which was once common in north Worcestershire but is very rare today.


Start: Stourport, grid ref SO807710.

Length: Nine miles/14.5km.

Maps: OS Explorer 218, OS Landranger 138. .

Terrain: Canal and river towpaths, heathland and pasture, no hills.

Footpaths: Mostly excellent.

Stiles: Seven.

Parking: Stourport Riverside (or Blackstone Rock).

Public transport: 294/295 Monday-Saturday, 300 on Sundays/bank holidays; or take the more frequent 303 (or the train) to Kidderminster – you can join the towpath by the bus station and it’s just a short walk south to Caldwall Mill Bridge: worcester or 01905 765765.

Refreshments: Stourport, including canalside tea room and pubs; the canalside Watermill at Kidderminster; pub on Sutton Park Road; shops and pub on Lower Lickhill Road.


1 Join the canal towpath, either at the riverside basins or at York Street, and follow it north to Kidderminster.

2 Pass under Caldwall Mill Bridge (14) then leave the towpath opposite Roundhill Wharf and go back to cross the bridge. Walk straight through a small housing development to Park Street. Turn left, then go into Brinton Park and follow cycleway 49 to the far side of the park, ignoring all turnings (unless also following the heritage trail). Leaving the park, stay on the cycleway, which goes by way of Woodward Road and Parry Road to Sutton Park Road (B4549). Turn right and cross over but don’t follow the cycleway when it turns left towards Birchen Coppice. Stay on Sutton Park Road instead.

3 Turn left on Rifle Range Road.

Walk to the end of it and descend a concrete path into Rifle Range Nature Reserve. At a multistemmed oak tree take a path descending into woodland. Keep right when the path forks. Bear left at the next fork then go straight on at three junctions.

Just beyond the third junction you’ll see a notice about the Devil’s Spittleful with a helpful map. You will probably want to explore further, but for the purposes of the walk, keep straight on along a bridleway.

Leave the nature reserve at the far side, passing under a railway bridge and proceeding along the bridleway.

4 Pass under another railway bridge then turn left on an unsigned path. Follow this sunken, tree-lined, sandy path to Bewdley Road North (B4195) and cross to a path opposite. Climb up a wooded bank then walk past a caravan park, past Brant Farm and along an attractive, tree-lined path before joining a track which passes a quarry. Turn left at a junction.

5 When the track bends left at a cattle grid climb a stile on the right and walk along the left edge of a field. Cross a stile and go through another field to the far left corner. Climb slightly uphill in the next field, beside the fence, then proceed along the edge of another field to a redundant stile. Turn right here and walk across the field, then turn left at the far side.

Cross a stile in the corner and turn left on a farm track. Follow it to Lickhill Road and turn right.

6 Turn right on Stagborough Way. Ignore all turnings until you have passed two adjacent primary schools, then turn right on Elmfield Walk, and soon right again on a footpath which descends to meet a road by the entrance to Lickhill Manor Caravan Park. Cross to a footpath marked by a signpost. Walk through meadows to the river Severn and turn left to return to Stourport.

Worcester News recommends the use of OS Explorer Maps, your ideal passport to navigating the countryside. This walk is based on OS Explorer 218.