It’s become a cliché of butt-clenching proportions to locals when London-based writers cite that Birmingham has more canal pathways than Venice. But it does, and they do punctuate the landscape like flowing ribbons of the deepest, darkest blue silk.

They cut through decades of change, and areas of deeply differing classes and status. Perhaps the best place to take a walk along the Birmingham canals, while viewing the city’s greener geography is the Stratford-upon-Avon canal.

It begins in the city’s suburb of King’s Norton and winds its way to Shakespeare’s Stratford over 25.5 miles. Embark on the Northern Stratford walk at Kings Norton Junction, with its grade II listed guillotine stop-lock comprising of consisting of two wooden gates which move vertically in iron-clad frames. When once operational, the stop lock worked with counterbalancing weights.

Draw a little closer to the junction and you’ll find a red brick house with a barrel-roof, built in 1802, with Doric column decoration. It’s larger than the average lock-keeper’s cottage and sets the perfect backdrop for a lunch or a picnic by the waterside to take in this pretty and historical site.

During the turn of the 18th Century, the Worcester and Birmingham Canal was authorised by an Act of Parliament, and high on the wall of the Worcester and Birmingham toll house is an early nineties reproduction of the 1973 toll fees.

Built to the south of Birmingham, the route once gave workers easy access to the Dudley coalfields of the Black Country further north. A total of 54 narrow locks lace along the canal, with the King’s Norton Junction stop lock being used once-upon-a-time to prevent the canal taking water from the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. Today, the two canals aren’t owned separately as they once were, instead being owned by British

Waterways since nationalisation in 1948. So, they remain open. From the King’s Norton Junction, after around three-quarters of a mile, is Brandwood, a long and lonely tunnel that stretches 322 metres long and without a tow path. In the day, horses would be walked over the hill and the canal barges could be pulled through the tunnel with a handrail mounted on the wall.

Other features of locks south of the walk from King’s Norton Junction include a swing bridge, a lift bridge and another drawbridge, all of which can be opened manually.