What Is the South Staffordshire Railway Walk?
The South Staffordshire Railway Walk is a recreational road-free route along a disused railway line near Wolverhampton, Staffordshire. As the name suggests, it’s a walking route, but it’s also a good route for cycling and running, and you may even see a horse! Despite the route’s proximity to the reasonably dense urban environment of Wolverhampton, the South Staffordshire Railway Walk quickly transports you from the urban landscape of the Black Country to a wonderfully green outdoor world, which is why it also made its way to our list of things to do in Wolverhampton.
If you’re looking for other cycle trails, don’t miss our post on the Monsal Trail in the Peak District.
South Staffordshire Railway Walk History
Now for a little bit of the South Staffordshire Railway Walk history for you history buffs. The South Staffordshire Railway Walk runs along a former railway line formerly part of the Wombourne Branch Line that the Great Western Railway Company built between 1912 and 1925. It lasted until 1965, when it was closed, with the last train trundling along the line on 24 June 1965. Interestingly, it was used to transport allied troops from the Normandy D-Day landings to hospitals in the area.
According to the British Heart Foundation, there are over 4000 miles of disused railway lines that walkers and cyclists around the UK now enjoy. 4000 miles! That’s an insane figure, don’t you think?!
What was once the mainstay of British transport, stimulating industry by reducing the freight costs of heavy materials such as coal and minerals and reducing costs of transporting finished goods around the country, the rail network succumbed to the Breeching cuts in the mid-60s. 5,000 miles of track were earmarked for closure, of which a large percentage is now accessible for us to enjoy. Did you know the rail network also kickstarted what we now consider normal – the commute, by allowing people to live further from their places of work?
How Far Is the South Staffordshire Railway Walk?
The route is point-to-point and not circular. One way is 5.2 miles (8.36km) from WV Active to The Railway Cafe. According to my Strava recording, the route was 10.86 miles around, from the car park at The Railway Cafe to the very end of the route at WV Active and back.
Despite my Strava recording, I’ve tracked the route via Google Maps to get the above distances…I trust Google Maps more than my Strava with Auto-Pause!
Terrain and Difficulty
The route and terrain are mainly flat, with the odd minor hill that is easy underfoot for most of the way. If you are cycling, we advise you to use a mountain bike, not a road bike! The terrain isn’t suitable for those narrow tyres! For you walkers, trainers should be ideal for most conditions but be aware you might counter a bit of mud during the wetter months.
Not only is it a nice walk, but there’s also plenty to see and do along the way. Scroll to the bottom for more information. There are also plenty of places to access the route, so you can meander along Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal if you fancy a change of scenery.
To help you plan your day, below, you’ll find some helpful information for your walk, cycle or run along the South Staffordshire Railway Walk, such as parking information, cafes and refreshments and other things to see and do along the way.
South Staffordshire Railway Walk Route
The route starts at WV Active, Claregate, Wolverhampton, and ends at The Railway Cafe, Wombourne…or the other way around if you’d prefer! Alternatively, you may want to jump on the route at one of the many access points, such as Tettenhall, Compton or Castlecroft.
South Staffordshire Railway Walk Map
Kingswinford Railway Walk Route
Although the South Staffordshire Railway Walk is 5.2 miles, the route can extend further if you want it to. The South Staffordshire Railway Walk route naturally runs onto the Kingswinford Railway Walk routes 5.7 miles (9.17km) long. In total, both routes are 10.9 miles (17.54km) long. The Kingswinford Railway Walk route runs from The Railway Cafe, Wombourne, to Fens Pool, Brierly Hill. Having cycled both routes, we recommend you stick to the South Staffordshire Railway Walk – it’s better cared for, wider and generally more pleasant. The Kingswinford Railway Walk gets a little industrial once you pass Himley Plantation.
Kingswinford Railway Walk Map
South Staffordshire Railway Walk Parking
There are a few options for parking, all of which are free and listed below. If you want to park at The Railway Cafe, we suggest you put the address below in Google Maps and not The Railway Cafe; otherwise, you might end up in the wrong place. All the parking and cafe locations are on the second map above.
Tettenhall – Meadow View Terrace, Wolverhampton, WV6 8NX
Wombourne – 52 Bratch Ln Parking, 52 Bratch Ln, Wombourne, Wolverhampton, WV5 9AB
WV Active – Aldersley Rd, Wolverhampton, WV6 9NW
South Staffordshire Railway Walk Cafés
A day out walking or cycling wouldn’t be complete without visiting a coffee shop. Thankfully, plenty are along the South Staffordshire Railway Walk; you’ll be glad to know. There are two right along the line that you can’t miss!
Cupcake Lane Cafe
CupCake Lane Cafe is set in the old Tettenhall station, which naturally makes it instantly cool. Cupcake Lane is regarded as a vintage tea room, and they serve breakfasts, home-cooked lunches, afternoon teas and, of course…cakes! There’s a cute little room in the station with vintage vibes.
Address: The Old Station, Meadow View, Wolverhampton, WV6 8NX
The Railway Cafe
Much like Cupcake Lane, The Railway Cafe is housed in an old railway station.
As mentioned above, we suggest you don’t navigate to The Railway Cafe if you’re using Google Maps. It directed us to a cul-de-sac and not The Railway Cafe car park. Instead, head for 52 Bratch Ln Parking, 52 Bratch Ln, Wombourne, Wolverhampton WV5 9AB.
You are looking for a small entrance off Bratch Lane, right next to a bridge. It has its own little car park, plus the larger car park, and a nice little outdoor seating area.
Address: The Railway Cafe, Bratch Ln, Wombourne, Wolverhampton, WV5 9AD
Crumbles Coffee Shop
If you don’t mind stepping off the main South Staffordshire Railway Walk route, we recommend Crumbles Coffee Shop. It’s another charming little building belonging to Compton Care, a care home helping people with incurable conditions live their best lives. One of their charity shops is also next door if you’re after a bargain!
Address: Crumbles Coffee Shop, Compton Hall, 4 Compton Road West, WV3 9DH
If you’re looking for something more substantial, we recommend the Oddfellows pub at Compton. It’s just a few metres from the South Staffordshire Railway Walk. One of Marston’s pubs, Oddfellows, serves a range of British classics, from wholesome pies to fish and chips. You won’t be disappointed with your visit here. Although it’s a chain, it’s a bit of a gastropub with a good menu.
Address: Oddfellows, Compton, Wolverhampton, WV6 8AA
Things to See and Do on the South Staffordshire Railway Walk
Visit Tettenhall Transport Heritage Centre
The Tettenhall Transport Heritage Centre is a small community transport museum that also happens to be the first transport museum in Wolverhampton. It’s ideally located next to Cupcake Lane cafe too!
Enjoy Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve
Smestow Valley Local Nature Reserve covers a massive 48 hectares. Included in the reserve are the South Staffordshire Railway Walk and Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. You’ll also find picnic areas, meadowland, woodland, Smestow brook and up to 55 species of birds. It’s another great place to escape the urban sprawl of Wolverhampton if you don’t fancy the railway walk.
Admire the Graffiti
If you appreciate a bit of graffiti, look out for some along the walk. The graffiti is a vibrant feast set against the Edwardian railway tunnels. Do you think it can even be called ‘graffiti’?! It’s a work of art! You saw the picture earlier in the post – impressive or what?
Walk the Canals
The Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal runs alongside part of the South Staffordshire Railway Walk. The canal isn’t that far away, where it doesn’t run alongside it. And if you think you are lost, simply follow the canal towpath south until you reach Bratch Locks. We recommend walking one way along the South Staffordshire Railway Walk and back along the canal to make a circular route. The canal is peaceful and interesting, with a few locks along the way.
Visit Bratch Locks
A must-see along the South Staffordshire Railway Walk if you ask us! The canal network is fascinating – a network that is now almost entirely for recreational use, despite its logistical past and a considerable feat of engineering. Did you know there are around 4,700 miles (7,600 km) of navigable canals and rivers throughout the United Kingdom?
Enjoy a Picnic
There are a few places to enjoy a picnic if you don’t fancy stopping at one of the cafes along the way. There are benches up and down the route but also at Bratch Locks. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll catch a canal boat navigating through the locks.
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