Walking in the Malverns
The Malvern Hills are a 15km (c.9 mile) range of ancient rocks made up of a complex assemblage of crystalline igneous and metamorphic rocks (granite) of pre-Cambrian age (at least 650 million years old). The soils on the ridge top are thin and support little more than short wiry grasses, providing ideal walking conditions and stunning views. Lower down the soils are stony but thicker and support gorse, bramble and bracken interspersed with silver birch, mountain ash, hawthorn, sycamore and oak. The trees are stunted at higher levels but grow thick and lush in the valley bottoms.
The Hills divide the Counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire with the rolling hills and fields of Herefordshire to the West and the flatter plains of the Severn Valley to the East. Much of the drama and beauty of the Hills arise from the way they dramatically rise out of this landscape. Another feature of the Hills are the many (c. 88) springs and fountains which flow from outlets all around them - of particular note are St Ann's Well and Holy Well.
The Hills are protected under Acts of Parliament (originally passed in 1884 and subsequently amended in 1909, 1924, 1930 and 1995) and are administered and maintained by the Malvern Hills Conservators, controlled by a Board comprising directly elected members and representatives from the various Local Authorities and funded by a precept on local rate payers. Although now protected, our ancestors were not so caring and exploited the stone in the hills. As a result there are a number of old quarries dotted around the hills, all of which are now well weathered and form an integral part of the overall landscape.
The highest point on the Hills is the Worcestershire Beacon (425m) with North Hill (397m) and the British Camp Hill (Herefordshire Beacon - 338m) the other highest points. In total there are some 20 named hills comprising the complete range. The entire length of the Hills are open to the public and are criss-crossed with about 160km (100 miles) of bridleways and footpaths. Dogs are allowed on the hills and can be let off lead so long as they are well behaved. Cycling is allowed on bridleways only.
Further information about the Hills can be found on the following pages:
- Malvern Hills information on Wikipedia
- The Malvern Hills AONB website
- Information on the Malvern Hills Conservators
The town of Great Malvern lies at the Northern end of the Hills on the Worcestershire side, underneath the Worcestershire Beacon and North Hill. There is direct walking access to the Hills from the town via the path and 99 steps up to St Ann's Well (and café). The smaller village of Colwall lies on the Western slope of the Hills, about one third down their length. Both Great Malvern and Colwall have railway stations on the Worcester to Hereford line that can be used as starting points for a visit to the Hills.
There are car parks located at points all round the hills. The highest one is located on Beacon Road at the Wyche Cutting (B4218 road from Malvern to Colwall). This is also the closest to the Worcestershire Beacon. For those wanting to walk the Hills from end to end, the car parks to use are at the Clock Tower at the Northern end (on North Malvern Road) and at Hollybush at the Southern end (on the A438 Ledbury to Tewkesbury Road). Hollybush isn't quite at the very Southern end as Chase End Hill is only reachable on foot, although there is a minor road that goes to Whiteleaved Oak. The other major car park is at British Camp. This is situated about half way along the Hills, on the A449 Malvern to Ledbury road, and is the car park to use for the Herefordshire Beacon and points south. For those with difficulties walking, the Conservators have constructed "easier access paths" and disabled parking spaces at Blackhill Car Park on Jubilee Drive (B4232 road from Wyche Cutting to British Camp on the Western side of the Hills) and at Earnslaw Quarry on Wyche Road (B4218). There are public toilets at St Ann's Well, the Wyche Cutting and at British Camp.
For those wanting to use public transport:
The Wyche Cutting can be reached on Monday to Saturday by the 675 service from Malvern to Ledbury, and on Summer Saturdays by the 44B service.
British Camp can also be reached in the Summer on Saturdays by the 44B service. On Monday to Saturday, the 42 service goes to the Upper Welland Turn on the A449 (about 1 mile from British Camp).
It is also just possible to get to Hollybush by public transport via Ledbury on Saturdays (388 service).
Finally, a taxi from Malvern to British Camp will cost about £10
For people arriving by train at Great Malvern Station, the "Route to the Hills" guides you up from the Station onto the Hills with a series of information points including "QR codes" for those people with mobile phones with internet access. Maps showing the Route to the Hills can be found here (from Great Malvern Station) and here (from Priory Road).
For those needing refreshment whilst on the Hills, there are a number of cafés and pubs in convenient locations. There are cafés at St Ann's Well (closed during the week in winter), and The Kettle Sings on Jubilee Drive. There are also various cafés within the town of Great Malvern.
There are also pubs serving food:
- at the Wyche Cutting - Wyche Inn and Chase Inn
- at British Camp - the Malvern Hills Hotel and
- on West Malvern Road - Brewers Arms
- there are no food and drink facilities south of British Camp other than pubs off the hills at Castlemorton (Plume of Feathers and Robin Hood) and Rye Street (Duke of York). There are also a number of other town pubs in Great Malvern and Colwall.
To help you with your visit to the Malvern Hills, the Tourist Information Centre in Great Malvern (TIC) can sell you a number of guides and maps in person or over the phone (credit card needed) [for a full list of items items to purchase see here]:
- 6 Trail Guides detailing circular walks of about 4km each (Trails 1 and 2 cover the area above the town, Trail 3 covers Wyche Cutting to British Camp, Trail 4 British Camp to Gullet Quarry and Trail 5 Midsummer Hill to Chase End Hill. Trail 6 is an end to end guide).
- Malvern Hills Superwalker map (1:10,000) detailing all the paths and bridleways
- OS Landranger 150 (1:50,000) and OS Explorer 190 (1:25,000) maps
You can also download some maps and guides to help you to plan your visit:
- A set of useful leaflets produced by Malvern Hills Conservators.
Further information on accommodation and camping and caravan sites is also available from the TIC.
Useful contact points are:
|Tourist Information Centre||01684 892289||Brewers Arms||01684 568147|
|Malvern Hills Conservators||01684 892002||Wyche Inn||01684 575396|
|Bus Enquiries||0870 6082608||Chase Inn||01684 540276|
|Rail Enquiries||08457 484950||Malvern Hills Hotel||01684 540690|
|St Ann's Well Cafe||01684 560285||Plume of Feathers||01684 833554|
|Kettle Sings Cafe||01684 540244||Robin Hood||01684 833212|
|Duke of York||01684 833449|
The information in this short guide has been compiled from current information sources and is believed correct, however the Tourist Information Centre cannot be held responsible for any inaccuracies or omissions