“ Sightseeing National / Worcestershire „
One thing about the Malvern Hills is that they are easy to spot due to their distinctive shape. If you happen to be in south Worcestershire and see an interestingly shaped ridge to the west it is not the Welsh mountains as my dad once thought but the beautiful Malvern Hills which mark the border with Herefordshire. At certain times of the year the sun can be seen setting behind them from the Worcester area and this can be a spectacular sight.
I am not a particularly enthusiastic walker nor am I overly fit. I suspect that someone who could tick one or both of those boxes would get more out of the hills than me although I still find that they make a pleasant afternoon out.
There are three walks which I have undertaken and would like to share my views about.
The highest point in the hills is Worcestershire Beacon which can be reached by walking up the hill from the town of Great Malvern. This walk can be tiring on the legs but does not require a superb level of fitness. St Anne's well (one of the sources of Malvern water) is situated near to this path in a building which also houses a café. I would recommend a couple of hours for this walk depending on fitness levels and how much scenery you wish to take in.
Another lovely spot is British camp which can be reached by a shorter albeit steep climb. A convenient car park and pub can be found at Wyche cutting near to the bottom of the path. Ice cream vans can often be found parked up too so plenty of opportunity for refreshments. It only takes a few minutes to reach the top of the hill from the car park but allow time to enjoy the views.
It is also possible to walk across the hills from Colwall on the west side to Great Malvern on the east. It is about ten years since I did this and while I do not recall the trip in detail I would recommend it (get hold of an OS map and plan your exact route). The climb up the hill from Colwall is fairly gentle (as hills go) and the steep bit above Great Malvern is downhill. You can then catch a train back to Colwall.
Whilst the Malvern hills are not mountains do bear in mind that it can be chilly on top due to the wind. Also it is not a bad idea to take a camera and pair of binoculars if planning to climb them as the views are spectacular and you can see for miles on a clear day. I have generally found paths to be of reasonable quality but would recommend sturdy footwear that doesn't pick up stones easily.
The Malvern Hills have been designated an area of outstanding natural beauty and it is easy to see why!
We went for a walk in the beautiful Malvern Hills in Worcestershire the other day and were really impressed by the landscape and stunning views.
Gaining access to the hills themselves was at first slightly problematic for us as we turned up on spec, aren't locals, and were navigating only by road-map, but we hazily remembered parking in some sort of 'quarry car park' when we first visited the area a number of years ago - and looking for a 'quarry car park' turned out the be just the right thing to do. From Great Malvern (confusingly, known just as 'Malvern' on some of the road signs) we headed down the B4218 towards Colwall and turned off at Wyche Cutting (quarry) car park - it costs £2 to park there for the day.
Back at home I now see that Malvern District Council gives excellent info on access to the hills on their website: http://malvern.whub.org.uk/home/mhc-tourism-walking-the-hills
From the Wyche Cutting car park it's a steep walk on fairly muddy paths through pretty ash, sycamore and rowan woodlands up to the top of the Malvern hills. It takes roughly 15-20 minutes to get onto the open hills themselves and we found it quite a 'do-able' even bearing in mind we were accompanied by our four year old - who managed the walk up and down, together with a fair bit of running about 'up top' - very well. The Malverns run (very) roughly north south and have a sort of an undulating 'saddle' along the top ridge, that the conservators of the hill district have (probably quite controversially, when the work was first done) tarmacced over with a sturdy pavement / path. This gives the area - which is actually otherwise quite 'wild' - a slightly unfortunate 'municipal park' feel but on the plus sides, it makes for a very easy surface for walking on, helps with accessibility enormously and also undoubtedly helps prevent erosion on the hills. The Malverns at this northern end where we visited are made largely of granite, and on the exposed slopes near the paths you could see through the grass to where the rock had weathered to - practically - a thin gravel-path consistency in many places; the tarmac must help guard against this.
Because of the accessibility, and the quality of the walking surfaces there were people from all walks of life up on the hills when we visited, from families with small children (though the terrain on the way up, on the route we took is probably not suitable for most push-chairs), to all-weather-gear-clad serious hill-walker-types (who were obviously only taking in the metalled-surface parts of the walk as part of a more serious hike) to cyclists and joggers and old ladies out for a gentle afternoon stroll. I would say that - although when we went we very foolishly we didn't take our walk in the Malverns seriously enough - the high level of accesssibility and because of the tarmac paths, the city-centre parkland feel of the place make the hill environment quite deceptive; you are really moderately high up there (around 400m according to the district council website) and the weather can turn bad surprisingly quickly. It would not be a good idea to go there unprepared with warmer clothing and a rain-proof coat, even on a seemingly nice autumn day.
There are occasional craggy parts alongside the walks that with a little effort, one of your family members could manage to fall off and injure themselves, and also some steep drops in the woodlands on the way up, so younger kids should be monitored at all times.
The views from the top are absolutely stunning: you look out across the Vale of Evesham to Cotswold Escarpment to the east, and westwards over wooded bracken moorland towards the mountains of Wales. The Malvern Hills themselves, which rise up to the north and south along the walk are also spectacular. It is a gorgeous piece of countryside, and only about 20- 30 minutes from the M5, so very easily accessible! We were really impressed with this part of the country, and will be visiting to explore more of the surrounding area again soon.