Adventures by train – Kinver Rock Houses

Troglodytes were here

We loved everything about this train adventure. The journey (especially the tiny Stourbridge train) was exciting and we loved the views from Kinver Edge.

The star of the day however had to be the Kinver Rock Houses. It’s tricky to imagine that homes carved out of rock could seem cosy and welcoming, but they did.

We took our time exploring.

Station: Stourbridge Town + bus 242 to Kinver

Bus stop: Stourbridge Interchange

Travel time from London: 2 hours 30 mins + 25 mins (bus)

Travel time from Bristol: 2 hours 40 mins + 25 mins (bus)

Author’s adventure tip: Get off the bus at the clock tower in Kinver village. The walk up to the rock houses is uphill so wear comfortable shoes and take a drink. Whilst you are there, it would be a shame not to walk on up to Kinver Edge and enjoy the views.

Plan your own train adventure.

Practicalities: The toilets at Stourbridge Interchange close early but are available during the day. There are toilets in Kinver Village. Unless you are a National Trust member, there is a charge to enter Kinver Rock Houses (and use their loos).

Other National Trust loos are available

The tea room at Kinver Rock Houses might be your only chance ever to eat a cream tea in a cave. We can recommend the scones.

Brick facade on sandstone cave interior

Your train adventure

From wherever you’re travelling, you’ll need to alight your train at Stourbridge Junction station. In truth you could easily walk the short distance to Stourbridge Interchange to catch your bus to Kinver but if you did so, you’d be missing out on the opportunity to travel on what is claimed to be the UK’s shortest train line (and perhaps train).

I think your shortest mainline station to station walk would be Ryde Esplanade station to Ryde Pier Head station on the Isle of Wight but I could be wrong. I will have to visit one day to find out.

Travel the UK’s shortest branch line

Perhaps measured more sensibly in metres (1287) than miles (0.8), the Stourbridge Town branch line has no signals and only one train, which in turn has only one carriage.

It also has an impressive incline.

Which has led to a fair few incidents since its first passenger journey in 1879.

If you follow my train adventure walking the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, you’ll travel on the UK’s steepest mainline railway incline, the Lickey Incline.

At Stourbridge Junction it’s a short platform hop to catch the branch line, then you’ll find modern Stourbridge Interchange bus station just across the road once you reach Stourbridge Town station.

If you venture under the subway into town, you’ll also find cafes.

Riding the Donk

Blink and you’ll miss this super-short train ride

This diminutive section of railway line holds memories for at least three generations of my family.  All four of my grandparents lived in Stourbridge so we grandchildren would sometimes use the line to travel between their houses. I can remember being met by my grandfather in his  white campervan.

Going further back in time my Mum used to travel this train line to school. She just missed out on steam train rides but does remember the train being universally known as ‘the Donk’ (presumably donkey) as well as some rather chilly waits on the platform.

The picture above is of my sister and niece so that’s generation four. You can read my niece’s account of our adventure in ‘Author’s Adventure’ below.

Two Kinver village walks

The walk up to Kinver Rock Houses from Kinver village is initially on the road but once you reach the area of woodland below Kinver Edge, you’ll see the National Trust have waymarked some walking routes.

We took a short pull up the hill and enjoyed a lunch picnic on Kinver Edge but the scope for walks up there is enormous.

Your Kinver Edge and Rock Houses walking route

Kinver Village to Kinver Edge and the rock houses

Your walking route from Kinver village on OS maps

A short, sharp walk

Although it is uphill, it’s only a short 1.4 km (0.8 miles) walk up to Kinver Edge from Kinver Village and an even shorter one to the Rock Houses.

There is a section of road without pavement on this route.

Get off your bus at the clock tower that’s just past the White Harte pub. Walk in the direction the bus was heading until you get to Stone Lane on the left (just opposite a small grassed area).

Look for the car park

Head up the hill until you come out of the built-up area and see the car park for the Holy Austin Rock Houses on the left.

Walk this way

Turn off the road via the pedestrian route into the woods and look for the walking routes noticeboard. Here you can either follow the National Trust signs to Kinver Edge and the hillfort or head straight to the rock houses.

A canal meander from Kinver village

Just in time to watch the lock antics

Whilst we waited for our bus back to the Stourbridge Interchange, we decided to explore the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, which runs alongside the less navigable River Stour.

We weren’t disappointed.

Your Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal circular walk from Kinver

Copyright OS Maps 2023

Time to explore

To get to the canal from Kinver, you have to cross the River Stour. Although there’s a nearer bridge marked on the OS Map, it is behind locked gates so this route takes you to the next gate beyond (starting at your clock tower bus stop).

If you’re catching the bus, you’ll need at least an hour for this route.

Your Kinver canal route on OS Maps

  1. From the bus stop

Head along the main road until you get to the leisure centre. Cut across the car park and into a park.

2. Find the canal

At the end of the park, follow the narrow route next to the fence until you get to a junction. Turn sharp right to cross two branches of the Stour, then turn right again onto the canal towpath.

3. Wander along to the pub

Follow the towpath until you reach the road and lock at the Vine Inn (perfect excuse for a stop here).

4. Back into the village

Turn right onto the road then right again to walk back into Kinver village.

Author’s adventure

The generation game

In truth I was an interloper on this train adventure. My niece and sister were on the latest quest of their UK Geology mission.

So I’ve left the telling of our adventure up to my niece who keeps lovely logs of her journeys and experiences, and whom I like to think is a chip off the old ‘aunty’ block (not least because she recognises the value food brings to an expedition!)

Over to you M.

We got up early, talked, had our breakfast, then headed to the station (with an Auntie Fi!)

Three trains and a bus

We all three jumped on a train to Worcester Foregate Street then ran to catch our train to Stourbridge Junction. We walked off the train and straight onto another! (Though this one was considerably smaller). It took us to Stourbridge Interchange (big bus station).

Coffee time

Checking the bus timetable first, we walked to a nearby cafe and I had my iced coffee for that day. We got back in time to buy M&Ms and get on the right bus. It dropped us off at Kinver and we walked towards the rock houses.

A big hill

Up and up we went till we found the entrances. Consulting the map we chose to walk the purple trail as there were toilets at the end, and me and Fi were in need of one.

Aunty wee-wee trees

Fast forward 20 minutes and we’ve reached the clearing surrounded by trees (now known as the wee-wee trees, as here is where Fi relieved herself!)

Up and up and up

We then wandered up to the view point. When I say wandered, I mean ‘storeyed’ as there were 45 steps up. The view was amazing from the top, there were fields and fields of green. Stopping to rest under an oak tree, we ate our picnic (sandwiches, biscuits and M&Ms) surrounded by gorse and trees.

Living in caves

Seeing as I still had to pee, we headed back down the way we came. Past the wee-wee trees and towards the rock houses. We paid, headed up the slope and found a guide, who seemed to know an awful lot about rock houses and the people who had lived there over time. The first record of people living there was in the 1700s.

Time for tea

Once we’d looked around we went up to the next level and only looked at these homes as they were unrestored and unsafe. On the next level was tearooms and we all sat down to have a drink.

A little bit batty

When we had finished, we went back down and this time looked in at the cave house that was off limits because Lesser Horseshoe bats were nesting there.

And relax

Carrying on , we walked all the way down to the park at the bottom of the hill. We sat for a while. Ali was looking at the town, Fi was reading and I was writing.

Time to spare

Having time to spare we decided to walk down the tow path to the pub but we ended up walking a long circle. We eventually found the pub though and had drinks and crisps.

The return journey

We caught the bus then the tiny train, then our next train to Worcester Foregate Street. We had to wait for half an hour then we hopped on the train to Great Malvern station.

People watching

I had nothing to do for 12 minutes so I studied the man sitting across from me. Finally got to the right station and took Monnie’s car back to Monnie’s house.

Home sweet home!