Sandwell Valley Country Park Plans for 2022

Sandwell Valley Visitor Centre (formerly Sandwell Park Farm)

Sandwell Valley Park Farm has – since the late 20th century – been home to some animals for visitors to get to know, pet, and love. Formally known as Sandwell Valley Park Farm, the Courtyard can no longer be a working farm – our animals are able to be much better cared for and have more space and attention at Forge Mill Farm. Renamed Sandwell Valley Visitor Centre, we will become a centre for countryside education and visitor experience, including telling the story of Sandwell Valley and Sandwell and promoting animal welfare, nature and wildlife, gardening, heritage, and countryside activities.

Sandwell Valley Rabbit Village and Victorian Garden

Whilst Sandwell Valley Park Farm can no longer house many of the traditional animals we once did, the Sandwell Valley Rabbit Village will be a new home for dozens of adopted rabbits, with lots of open space, their own ‘village’ houses, and interaction areas for our trained animal welfare staff to teach children and adults about Rabbit welfare, history, and care. Our mission is to become the biggest and most rabbit friendly home for our adopted residents, and to teach visitors about good rabbit care and rabbit history. The Victorian Gardens will be refreshed, with new interactions and education about traditional gardening, a disabled access community gardening area, and volunteer activities to develop and maintain our gardens. Launching in April 2022. 

Sandwell Valley Heritage Tour

Sandwell Valley has a rich heritage throughout the site, which includes a blacksmiths, a walled garden ‘bothy’, 19th and 20th century gardening and farming tools and equipment, and Victorian garden features. Our new interactive heritage tour will tell the story of the site and Sandwell Valley, including revitalising the museum elements throughout the Heritage Tour. This family friendly and fully accessible experience will tell the story for all ages – from those that want a fuller and more in-depth history, to children (and adults!) who want to experience the smells, sounds, and visual history. Special heritage days throughout the year will also include live demonstrations at the blacksmiths, and re-enactments of old farming and gardening practices. Launching in April 2022 with further developments throughout 2022.

Sandwell Valley Courtyard

The Park Farm Courtyard will remain the beautiful and historic location it is now; but with animal welfare and countryside education events for the whole family, countryside entertainment and activities, pop-stalls and special countryside markets, along with seasonal events such as Easter at The Valley and Santa at The Valley. This free to access and dog friendly environment will be a hub of education and entertainment for all ages, with a wide range of accessible and inclusive free to access and ticketed events throughout the year. This will include free access to our Tea Rooms and Sandwell Valley Countryside Shop, as well as accessible toilets and seating areas. Launching in April 2022 with further developments throughout 2022.

Forge Mill Farm

Forge Mill Farm Trail

Forge Mill Farm is now home to many animals, including rare breeds, and is well loved and visited by tens of thousands of families a year. The farm is being relaunched in April with lots of new farm animals – many of them rare breeds – to visit and learn about, an interactive education tour for children and adults to learn about animal welfare and where our food comes from, and more opportunities to get to know and love the animals. This includes a brand new accessible Forge Mill Farm Trail, expanding the size of the farm and visitor experience. Forge Mill Farm will continue to expand throughout 2022 and 2023 with plans for a Farm Activity Barn and Forge Mill Farm Cafe. Launching in April 2022. 

Forge Mill Farm Education

 

Our vision for Forge Mill Farm is to become the best animal welfare and food education facility in the West Midlands within the next three years. Forge Mill Farm is already home to Sandwell College Animal Welfare Students, and will be expanding it’s offering to more apprentices, work experience placements, animal welfare and farming students, and volunteers.  Our new education team will work with Schools, colleges, and community groups to bring people into the Country Park and Forge Mill Farm and learn about forestry education, animal welfare, and food production and healthy eating education.   Launching in May 2022.

Forge Mill Farm Events

Forge Mill Farm already welcomes tens of thousands of visitors a year to see our farm animals, feed them, and learn about animal welfare and farming practices. The most recent events offering additional experiences – such as the Sunflower Festival, Pumpkin Patch Farm, Festive Farm, Festive Bedtime at the Farm, Lambing Live Evenings, and Pancake Factory days have been sell outs. Our 2022 schedule of events builds on this offering with more enhanced daytime and evening experiences, from the well-loved events run last year, to new farm and animal welfare events. This includes bringing some of Forge Mill Farm and what we do to our Town’s and Schools throughout the year. Launching in April 2022.

Sandwell Valley Food and Drink and Countryside Farm Shops

Sandwell Valley Country Park is home to an award winning Tea Room. Our plans in 2022 including a new menu for the Tea Rooms, accessible and dog friendly outdoor seating areas, additional coffee bars for walkers, and a new Forge Mill Farm Coffee Bar and Picnic Area. Our new Countryside Farm Shops at Forge Mill Farm and Sandwell Valley Visitor Centre will be home to locally grown or made at Sandwell Valley or locally sourced countryside and farm products.  

Sandwell Valley Tea Rooms

Our traditional tea rooms at Sandwell Valley Park Farm is relaunching this April with a new menu offering traditional breakfasts, brunches, lunches and afternoon teas and cakes. Our new menu will offer an expanded offer of vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options, more options for children, family meal deals, and some new exciting new flavours using locally sourced and fresh produce. Affordable, high quality, fresh and locally sourced food and ingredients is at the heart of our food and drink offering at Sandwell Valley. Launching in April 2022. 

Sandwell Valley Walkers Coffee Bar

Sandwell Valley has tens of thousands of walkers every year. Our Tea Rooms are perfect for a sit-down breakfast, a leisurely brunch, or an afternoon tea. The new Sandwell Valley Coffee Bar will be open on weekends and during holiday times for those walkers that want a ‘grab and go’ hot or cold drink, a cake or snack, and to continue their walk. Launching in June 2022.  

Forge Mill Farm Coffee Bar and Picnic Area

The new Forge Mill Farm Coffee Bar will be available to walkers and visitors to the farm, with free of charge access to the Picnic Area. Selling coffee and tea, hot and cold drinks, and snack food, you can buy a drink, cake, or snack to go with your own picnic, using the refurbished picnic area at the free to access entrance to Forge Mill Farm. Launching June 2022.  

Sandwell Valley Visitor Centre Countryside Shop

The shop at Sandwell Valley Visitor Centre is being relaunched with new products for walkers, nature and wildlife lovers, dog lovers, and heritage education. This will include products that you would only get to by at a country park shop – from special cakes to meat and veg grown and reared at Sandwell Valley or locally sourced. Our Countryside Shop will be the perfect place to treat your dog, buy some products or books to learn more about nature and wildlife, or buy yourself or a loved one something special. Launching in April 2022. 

Forge Mill Farm Shop

The shop at Forge Mill Farm is returning to its heritage as a traditional Farm Shop. The relaunch includes farm education products and books for children, farm related food and drink grown, made, reared at Forge Mill Farm and Sandwell Valley or locally and sustainably sourced, and farm themed gifts, arts and crafts. Our Farm Shop will be the perfect place to buy something special to add to your dinner, pick up a farm themed fun toy/book for your child, or a special gift for a loved one. Launching in April 2022. 

Sandwell Valley Pop Up Shops and Countryside Markets

The West Midlands is home to many farms, beautiful and vast countryside, and crafters and artists. Our special days for pop up shops and countryside markets will showcase the best of these products, from an individual who makes their own bird feeders, dog cake bakers, to farmers and specialist shops selling farm, countryside, nature and wildlife themed products and services. Launching with dates for 2022 in April. 

Sandwell Valley Activities and Events

Sandwell Valley Dog Friendly Access and Welfare Facilties

Sandwell Valley Country Park and Sandwell Valley Visitor Centre will be more accessible to people with dogs, making it easier for walkers to have a sit-down breakfast with their furry friends, visit the  countryside shop, and take part in other activities. The Rabbit Village, Heritage Tour, and Forge Mill Farm will still be dog free (except assistance dogs) to keep our animals safe, but the Courtyard, Picnic Areas and Shops will be fully accessible to friendly dogs. We will also be introducing more dog friendly features, such as self automated dog washing stations (including drying!) and water stations at Sandwell Valley Country Park to wash off your muddy friend and protect your car (and clothes!). Launching in April 2022.

Sandwell Valley Urban Bike Track and Cycling Trails

Sandwell Valley Country park is is already part of the Sustrans National Cycle Network (Route No.5) – providing an ideal route for families with young children to ride on surfaced tracks through pleasant surroundings. The Miners Trail is a dedicated mountain bike trail which includes three kilometres of track for all abilities, with some exciting and challenging technical features. Sandwell now has a new Urban Bike Track coming to Sandwell Valley – with funding from Sandwell Council, Sport England, and Birmingham Council – which will provide an expanded network of routes for mountain bikers of all abilities. Urban Bike Track Launching in 2023/24.

Sandwell Valley Adventure Playground

The Sandwell Valley Adventure Playground is an exciting place for children (and some adults!) with climbing nets, a rope bridge, an eight-metre-high tower with a slide, swings, a double zip wire, sandpit, a dragon roundabout, suspension bridge, play tractor and trailer and timber sculptures. A picnic area is available for visitors to enjoy their homemade picnics, or coffee and snacks from one of the tea rooms or coffee bars at Sandwell Valley Visitor Centre. Our plans for 2022 include further improvements to the playground and more picnic space. 

Sandwell Valley Arial Assault Course and Land Train

The high ropes and assault facility have been restored and will be ready for use late 2022. An operator is currently being commissioned to run this, with access to community groups, schools, residents and visitors a priority for any operator we commission. The Sandwell Valley Country Park Land Train will also return in 2022, to take children and families on a friendly ride throughout parts of the country park. 

Sandwell Valley Events

Sandwell Valley Visitor Centre, Forge Mill Farm, and Sandwell Valley Showground is already home to events and activities for visitors throughout the year. Our events in 2022 include many of the traditional Sandwell Valley events you have seen before, with new event and activities to excite and entertain. This includes the Shine a Light Festival two weeks from July 25th – 8th August, celebrating arts, culture and sports from across Sandwell as part of the B2022 Commonwealth Games. 

Sandwell Valley Master Plan

Sandwell Valley is much bigger than just Sandwell Valley Country Park. Our plans for 2022 are focussed on the two main sites – Sandwell Valley Visitor Centre and Forge Mill Farm. However, we want to consult and engage all stakeholders – from residents, visitors, and friends groups, to activity providers and Sandwell Council services and departments – to invest in Sandwell Valley, including its heritage, green spaces, country park, nature reserves and surrounding areas. Our Sandwell Valley Master Planning will begin in late 2022 with a series of stakeholder engagement events. To register your interest in coming to one of these events or your ideas email us. 

Our new Sandwell Valley website goes live on 1st April, alongside our relaunch of Sandwell Valley Country Park with the plans above.