Wrap up warm this winter and head out for an invigorating winter walk in The Malverns. Don’t let the crisp wind chill and wintry lows keep you cooped up indoors – walking when it’s cold is actually healthier because the body has to work harder to maintain your core body temperature, and you burn calories too. According to scientists, it’s a terrific brain booster as well – the fitter your legs are, the fitter your mind is!
Malvern Hills End to End – The Nine Mile Challenge (9.3 miles)
Seasoned walkers will love this challenging, linear trek along the entire undulating ridge of the spectacular Malvern Hills range. Winter intensifies Nature’s blues and greens, and leafless trees make for ‘new’ unobstructed views. Start from Chace End and head north along stony paths and wooded tracks to Chace End Hill, then on to Hollybush before reaching the peak of Midsummer Hill. Enjoy a dramatic canvas of contrasting landscapes (dusted with frost if you’re lucky) and big, atmospheric skies, before skirting Eastnor Park into Gullet Wood. Look out for gorse, rusty bracken and snowdrops and see if you can spot migratory birds, the redwing and the fieldfare from Iceland and Scandinavia. ‘End to End’ is just that, taking you to the top of Swinyard Hill, then on to British Camp, through the Silurian Pass and up Hangman’s Hill, to Wynds Point, Black Hill and Pinnacle Hill, Jubilee Hill, Perseverance Hill, Summer Hill, the famous Worcestershire Beacon and North Hill, before descending into Great Malvern town. Lunch stops: Malvern Hills Hotel, The Chase Inn, The Wyche Inn, Cafe H20, Sugar Loaf Cafe and The Kettle Sings. Find out more about the walk here. Get a map from Malvern Tourist Information Centre.
Hanley Swan – Railtrack, Pond & Pub (6.5 miles)
Once a settlement known as han lea (meaning ‘a high clearing’ in old English), Hanley Swan boasts a hunting lodge built by King John and in medieval times, was a flourishing pottery industry. On wintry days, when scaling the Malvern Hills might prove treacherous, this gentle route offers views of the peaks from the ground up, not to mention the sight of winter hedgerows glistening with holly berries and frosted spider webs. The ramble starts out from Peachfield Road along a wooded track, where through the trees (minus their summer garb), the perfectly manicured course of Worcestershire Golf Club can now be seen, rather than just glimpsed. The path crosses a small stream abundant in wildlife and a tunnel under the old (and now dismantled) Tewkesbury to Malvern railway track. Look up and you’ll see the majestic summits of Black Hill, Pinnacle Hill and Jubilee Hill towering over the land below. Hanley Swan village is a good mid-way stop. Take a seat on the bench by the pretty village pond with its resident ducks and moorhens, or stop for lunch at The Swan, with its beamed ceilings, roaring fire and cosy nooks and crannies, before heading out to the gentle slopes of Ox Hill and back down to Malvern Common. Lunch stop: The Swan Inn at Hanley Swan Find out more about the walk here.
If you’re interested in finding out about the historic houses in and around The Hanley’s, we have a NEW book available for sale in Malvern Tourist Information Centre called Hanley’s Historic Houses by Malcolm Fare. Read more about the book here.
The Suckley Hills Wildlife Circle (6 miles)
Dense woodland becomes sparse in winter, so rambles which pass through wooded areas are great for spotting wildlife – often elusive for most of the year. This circular walk in the beautiful Suckley Hills takes in some nature-rich woodland copses along the way, so look out for deer and of course, the fox, whose red fur is easily spotted in the rather more bare surroundings of this season. You might even see some unique Northern and European bird species who’ve flown here to escape icy climates further afield, and listen out for the song of the humble robin, quite vocal at this time of the year. Beginning at the Suckley parish road sign, the route takes you towards Alfrick Pound and over the Cradley Brook – a tributary of the Leigh Brook and full of native brown trout – before going back into the woods, where the architectural branches of naked trees form striking shapes against winter skies. You’ll eventually turn left on to the Worcestershire Way, where there are a few stiles to master, before you walk uphill to the ridge with views of the surrounding countryside. The path then goes steeply downhill (Grove Hill) to the hospitable Nelson Inn – a perfect pit-stop for the weary walker requiring some refreshment. From the Nelson, you’ll head back down to Cradley Brook, over a footbridge past Barrow Mill and Bearswood Common and into the fringe of Halesend Wood, before arriving back to Suckley. Lunch stops: The Glasshouse Cafe at Holloways. Find out more here.
Find out about other walking routes here.
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(Image: Adobe Image Stock)
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