Accessibility at Sandwell Valley

Summary accessibility statement

Before you visit

The trails are open daily dawn till dusk, except 25 December.

How to get here

By train

Hamstead is the nearest railway station. Turn right onto the main road - the Hamstead Hill/Old Walsall Road. Turn left into Hamstead Road then take the fourth left into Tanhouse Avenue just after Hamstead Primary School following the brown sign.


By bus

From Birmingham Priory Queensway: Take the number 16 bus to Hamstead, alight at Tanhouse Avenue. From West Bromwich Bus Station: Take the number 5 or 46 bus and alight at Bowstoke Road. Walk along Bowstoke Road to Tanhouse Avenue (20 minutes walk). From Sutton Coldfield Lower Parade: Take the number 5 bus and alight at Bowstoke Road. Walk along Bowstoke Road to Tanhouse Avenue (20 minutes walk).

By bike

National Route 5.

By road

The reserve is brown signposted off the A4041 (Newton Rd) North of Hampstead, take Hamstead Road (B4167), which is fifth on the left near the bottom of the hill by the church (look for the brown sign marked RSPB nature centre).

Sat nav POI file: If you have a satellite navigation system that can accept POI files, please see our POI page for a download link and instructions.

Access to facilities

Visitor centre
  • The main entrance and throughout the centre it is step free and is level. The main door is automatic and sliding.
  • The floor surface throughout is non-slip tiles.
  • The area is evenly and well lit with overhead lighting from halogen spotlights. There are floor to ceiling windows facing south.
  • There are several table and upright chairs without arms, all of which can be moved. Some chairs are folding and others are nonfolding.
  • Reception is staffed during opening hours by friendly RSPB staff and volunteers, who can provide assistance if required.
  • A hearing loop system is installed at the service counter.
  • There are emergency visual and audio alarms in all required areas. Emergency evacuation routes are all level exits and the meeting point is on the main car park.
Car parking
28 spaces
2 Blue Badge spaces
  • The route from the car park to the visitor centre is mainly tarmac with some rolled gravel and slope of 1:11 for 10m. Pedestrians can stay on the tarmac road, if needed, but taking care as it is a road.
  • The parking spaces are 300m from the main car park.
  • The main car park is level and made of rolled gravel.
  • The clearly signed blue badge spaces are situated 10m from the Visitor Centre entrance. They are on tarmac.
  • Visitors can be dropped off and collected from outside the visitor centre, although caution is needed as delivery vehicles and pedestrians use this area.
Toilet and baby changing
  •  There is one unisex accessible toilet, which has level entry and baby changing facilities. 
  • All toilet areas have audio and visual emergency alarms.
Nature trails access
  • The trails are surfaced with rolled gravel and in parts 'natural' surface, that can be muddy if there has been recent rain. There are no stiles, kissing gates, or barriers across the paths.
  • The trails can be combined by continuing to follow the path around Forge Mill Lake (managed by Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council) to make a circular walk of 1.6 miles
  • Visitor Centre to the Lakeside hide: The main path has a maximum gradient of 1:12  to the boundary of the reserve. There are two benches, without arms. They are set back from the main path, in the Minibeast Meadow. There is also a viewpoint, off the main path with two wooden benches. This viewpoint is 20m off the main path down a stony path or along a level ‘natural’ path, after the viewpoint. There are no more seats along this route until the hide. The last 20m of the trail is slightly raised, passing over a wet area of rolled gravel and has a small incline at either end.
  • Visitor Centre to South Bank: The main path is 650 m long and has a rolled gravel surface. The path has a maximum gradient of 1:12. After 150 m, there is a set of 8 gravel steps to the Marsh Screen, with handrails both sides. Continuing on the main path a further 20m is a level access path to the Marsh Screen, both are signed posted. The Marsh Screen path leads to an area with a multiple height viewing screens. The main path continues level for a further 160 m and then there is a narrow, natural surface, path off to a viewpoint over the Lake. There is a seat, without arms, with a step to it. There are 7 gravel steps, with a handrail on the right, at the end, that leads up to the main path. The main path continues to the South Bank, a further 270 m which is the boundary of the reserve. There is a seat, at the boundary without arm rests, located just below the main path, overlooking the Lake
  • Wildflower Garden and Ponds: The garden is immediately outside the Visitor Centre and is 100 m long. The main paths are rolled gravel and the maximum gradient is 1:11. There are raised flower beds, bird feeders, insect homes and picnic tables. There are 4 ponds on the reserve. 1) 50 m from the Visitor Centre, across the car park, are the 2 ponds. There are 5 benches. In front of each pond there is a paved area. 2) 30 m from the Visitor Centre along the rolled gravel path. 3) 70 m from the Visitor Centre and is accessed by a rolled gravel path then a grassy path. In front of the pond is a deep paved area and a wooden upstand at the edge of the water.
Viewing points
  • Access to the hide is over a level metal bridge.
  • When closed, the gates to the hide path are also closed.
  • The hide door is relatively easy to open by pulling outwards. If any assistance is required please knock on the door.
  • The floor is level, has a rubber floor and has a clear turning circle space.
  • The hide has glazed viewing flaps, which can be opened, allowing viewing from a seated position.
  • A portable ramp is available should the viewing area be too high.
  • There is movable bench seating at a height of 500 mm and all viewing points have a recessed area under the windows for wheelchair users.
  • Binoculars may be borrowed for use in the hide.
  • There is always a member of staff or a volunteer in the hide to assist, help identify wildlife and provide information.
  • This area is 100m from the Visitor Centre, along the South Bank trail and then 10m along a natural surface path. It has tree trunk seats, and a bench seat.
  • The rough natural surface path continues for 40 m down a 1:10 slope to the viewpoint over the river. Here there is a bench. The rough path then continues up a 1:9 slope for 30 m to the main path from the reserve entrance to the Visitor Centre.
  • Hot drinks are dispensed from a machine with buttons.
  • Assistance is available from staff and volunteers if required.
  • Dogs on leads and assistance dogs are allowed on all of the reserve trails but please keep them on a lead and clean up after them.
  • Bowl of water is available at the Visitor Centre main entrance for all dogs.


Find out more about the accessibility of Sandwell Valley. PDF, 39Kb

Sandwell Valley access statement