Clent Hills

Worcester News: The folly known as the Four Stones, Clent Hills The folly known as the Four Stones, Clent Hills

IT is estimated that almost one million people visit the National Trust’s landholding in the Clent Hills every year, which is no great surprise given its position close to the borders of the Black Country and Birmingham, and its proximity to Worcestershire towns Bromsgrove and Kidderminster.

Somehow, the hills manage to absorb these visitors, most of whom keep to well-trodden paths and many of whom don’t even venture very far from the car parks and pubs.

Most who do walk the hills probably reach the summit of either Clent Hill or Walton Hill. Clent Hill is the most popular, with a toposcope to identify distant landmarks, and a folly known as the Four Stones, intended to resemble a prehistoric monument and form a sort of focal point.

It was the idea of Sanderson Miller, the architect of Hagley Hall, which was completed in 1760 for the first Lord Lyttelton. From the Four Stones you can look down on Hagley Park, and another of Miller’s follies, a sham castle built with stones taken from a derelict abbey at Lapal, near Halesowen.

Beyond Hagley Park rises Wychbury Hill, now brutally cut off from the rest of the park by the A456 but still the site of an obelisk and a classical-style Temple of Theseus designed for Lord Lyttelton by the architect ‘Athenian’ Stuart.

Walton Hill is more wooded than Clent Hill, it’s quieter, it feels slightly wilder and it’s a little higher too; indeed it can come as some surprise to discover that it’s the second highest hill in the county, beaten only by Worcestershire Beacon.

On those rare clear days, the views from the tops are panoramic, embracing two countries, several counties, numerous towns, cities and villages, dozens of hills and even a few Welsh mountains.

While the views from both summits are undeniably grand, the hills have so much more to offer, with 179 hectares (443 acres) of woodland, heathland and grassland to explore, while numerous footpaths provide links to the wider countryside.

There is certainly plenty of scope to get away from the crowds.

Having said that, a few miles of this walk are along the relatively well-trodden North Worcestershire Path, but that’s just because it’s too good to miss. In any case, it is quiet enough once the top of Walton Hill has been left behind.

The return leg of the walk uses lesser-known paths and lovely, treelined Newtown Lane. A highlight at Newtown is Sling Common, a mixture of ancient woodland and wetland, with open access.

FACTFILE:

Start: Adam’s Hill, near Fountain Inn, between Clent and Lower Clent, grid ref SO925797.

Length: 6½ miles/10.5km.

Maps: OS Explorer 219, OS Landranger 139.

Terrain: Heath-like grassland, meadows, woodland, quiet but narrow lanes (care required). Most slopes are gentle but there are a couple of steep ones.

Footpaths: Excellent.

Stiles: 11.

Parking: Between Fountain Inn and Hill Tavern.

Public transport: Worcester-Birmingham bus 144 to Bromsgrove then Stourbridge bus 318 to Clent; or take a train to Hagley and catch the 318 from there, or walk – it takes 25-30 minutes from Hagley to Adam’s Hill; worcestershire.gov.uk/bustimetables or 01905 765765.

Refreshments: Pubs and restaurants at Adam’s Hill and Vine Lane, Clent.

DIRECTIONS:

1 Walk past the Hill Tavern on to the open hill and bear left on a rising path. After an initial steep climb you will arrive at a plateau.

Choose whichever route you prefer to the easily reached summit of Clent Hill, marked by a toposcope and the Four Stones. Join the North Worcestershire Path (NWP) and head north-east to meet a road.

Turn left, then right, and soon right again, following the NWP south across Walton Hill to Calcot Hill.

2 Approaching Calcot Farm, the NWP descends steeply to Shut Mill Lane, turns right and then left along Winwood Heath Road. Pass through woodland, climb towards the top of Romsley Hill then turn right on Farley Lane. Stay on Farley Lane when the NWP takes to the fields on the left. The lane can be quite busy, but there are grass verges for most of the way.

3 Take the first right, after Chestnut Cottage and Green Pastures, on to a much quieter, leafier lane. Go straight on at a crossroads, across Woodfield Lane and along Newtown Lane, then turn right at a T-junction. After passing Bay Tree Cottage turn right on an unsigned woodland path which leads across Sling Common.

Keep straight on at a junction. The path eventually turns left past a wetland and then turns right through more woodland.

4 Emerging on a lane, turn left to a junction and go straight on along a bridleway signed to Hollies Hill, Calcot and Munches. Fork left at a junction, pass a house then turn right on another bridleway, soon crossing a cattle grid to join a concrete track which leads to Calcot Farm. Turn left opposite the farm entrance.

5 Turn left at a waymarked junction, still on the bridleway, then keep straight on at an unmarked junction, passing a farm to meet a lane. Cross to a path opposite and walk across paddocks to Walton Pool Lane. Turn right and keep straight on at a junction. Great care is required as the lane is very narrow. Walk to a crossroads by St Leonard’s Church at Clent, where you have a choice of two routes. The easier option is to go straight on along Odnall Lane. A far more attractive, but much hillier option, is to turn right on Vine Lane, then shortly left on a bridleway. Climb to a junction with a footpath and turn left across Adam’s Hill to return to your starting point.

Views from summits are undeniably grand With 443 acres of woodland, heathland and grassland, the Clent Hills have plenty to offer, says Julie Royle

THERE ARE DOZENS OF LOCALWALKS FORYOUTO CHOOSE FROM ATWORCESTERNEWS.CO.UK Please note this walk has been carefully checked and the directions are believed to be accurate at the time of publication.

No responsibility is accepted by either the author or publisher for errors or omissions, or for any loss, accident or injury, however caused.

This walk is based on OS Explorer 219.

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