Brumspotting: how to see Birmingham (and Coventry) from the Cotswolds

Broadway Tower: wide view of Birmingham

For each pair of pictures, the one on the left is a wide view from a viewpoint with an arrow pointing to the city, the one in the right is a Brum-hanced (or Cov-hanced) close-up. Click on any image for a larger version.

The western escarpment of the Cotswolds is equivalent to a 700 foot high cliff, such is its relative height to the flattish Vale of Evesham below. Instead of looking out across sea, you can see hundreds of square miles of rural England: fields, villages and small towns, often with a backdrop of Welsh mountains.

But you can also see Birmingham, the second biggest city in Britain, and Coventry too. You just need a clear day, a suitably high viewpoint and to know where to look.

Birmingham can be seen from Broadway Tower country park (you don’t need to go up the tower, although it’s a nice building and you get views east and south as well as west and north), Dover’s Hill near Chipping Campden and Ilmington Down, while Coventry can be seen from the last two. (The locations on the map above are approximate for Dover’s Hill and Ilmington Down.) The trick is to realise that you aren’t going to see a mighty city on the horizon – Birmingham in particular is surrounded by low hills. When the light is right, ideally with sunlight on the city, what you can see are a few tower blocks, right on the horizon. Those in Birmingham look thinner than those in Coventry. You’re looking at buildings about 30 miles away, so they aren’t obvious, but can be seen with the naked eye.

In each case, you need to be looking north – due north for Birmingham from Broadway Tower and Dover’s Hill, north north-east for Coventry from Dover’s Hill. From Ilmington Down, Birmingham is slightly west of north, Coventry slightly east.

The gallery above will help you Brumspot and Covspot. As a general guide, with both Broadway Tower and Dover’s Hill you need to look over to the right of the view (in the case of Dover’s Hill not far to the left of where the far end of the ridge blocks that view). Coventry isn’t visible from the main viewpoint at Dover’s Hill, but it is if you start walking along the path from the northern end of the ridge to Chipping Campden. From Ilmington Down, both cities are visible from north-facing locations, including Pig Lane, which is where the photos above were taken.