Bartley Reservoir is well connected by Public Footpaths made of Public Rights of Way and 'Easements by Prescription', that combined allow for easier direct access to the reservoir from the surrounding areas, as well as making a full circular walking route through Severn Trent land possible. From St Leonard's Church there are Public Footpaths that connect to wider networks and national walking trails. Directly behind the church you can walk across the fields to the shops by Merritts Brook and the bottom of Ley Hill Park. Walk to the right of the church and you can follow a Public Footpath up to Frankley Beeches to enjoy the view over the reservoirs, or carry on to explore the many woods, or connect to the Monarch's Way National Walking Trail. Another Public Footpath permits you to walk from Ley Hill Village Green across the farmland to Bartley Reservoir on Frankley Lane.
Before the reservoirs and surburban housing with roads and pavements, there were tracks or trails used by people to get from A to B - usually over long distances. When Birmingham City expanded into the reservoir's surrounding areas, more tracks were made as people travelled on foot directly over fields and moors between the homes of family and friends. These tracks still remain and are known as Public Footpaths; where they have been formally recorded on old maps (see map above) they are known as Public Rights of Way and the land owner is responsible for maintaining them and the entrances. Where they are not recorded but have been in use for over 20 years with the landowner's knowledge with no attempt to prevent access, these are known as 'Easements by Prescription'; there is no legal responsibility to maintain them but the public cannot be prevented form using them.
The rule is 'once a pathway always a pathway' but the government are consistently trying to bring in laws to bring this to an end. These Public Footpaths are our ancestors' heritage to us; they walked the same pathways we walk today, so please use them and protect them where they are threatened. Since being formed in May 2021 Friends of Bartley Reservoir have confirmed the formal circular route around the reservoir and are working with Severn Trent and the Council's Public Rights of Way Team to ensure entrances are upgraded, pathways maintained, and 'Public Footpath' signs erected. We are also gathering evidence from residents to formally record eight new Public Rights of Way to give them the legal protection needed so they are safeguarded for future generations.