THIS beautiful walk spans three counties but gives glimpses of perhaps a dozen counties altogether.
The panorama on offer from Ragged Stone Hill includes the entire Cotswold escarpment and the mountains of South Wales.
Ragged Stone and Chase End hills are the quietest in the Malverns and perhaps even more attractive than the higher hills to the north, while Whiteleaved Oak is an idyllic hamlet nestling between the two hills.
The parkland of Bromesberrow Estate is grazed by a herd of white park cattle, a rare and ancient breed, while exotic black swans glide across its scenic lakes.
Start: Hollybush, on A438 near Eastnor, grid ref SO758368.
Length: Seven miles/11km.
Maps: OS Explorer 190, OS Landranger 150. .
Terrain: Woodland and short turf on Malvern Hills, farmland and parkland elsewhere. Two steep but very brief ascents and one steep descent, but otherwise undemanding. Dogs must be on leads for most of the way.
Footpaths: Excellent in Worcestershire and Herefordshire but mostly poor in Gloucestershire, where they are obstructed by crops and nettles and have only occasional waymarking. Bromesberrow Estate is a partial exception – paths there are unobstructed, but still lacking in waymarking.
Public transport: Train or bus (44/44a/44b/ 363/372/374/417) to Malvern Link, Great Malvern, British Camp, Ledbury or Upton, then 244 (Malvern Hills Hopper) to Hollybush, weekends/bank holidays only, until September 28, worcestershire.gov.uk/bustimetables or 01905 765765.
1 Walk beside the road towards Eastnor until a gate gives access to Ragged Stone Common. Take the left-hand path and climb up Ragged Stone Hill to the summit plateau. Walk the length of this and then start to descend beside a rocky spine. The path soon forks – take the left branch here, by a stone waymarker for Whiteleaved Oak. Descend to meet a track, turn right and proceed to Whiteleaved Oak.
2 Turn right along a lane and follow it round to the left, then take a path on the left which gives access to Chase End Hill. Follow the main path to the summit then descend to the south, still on the main path which eventually acquires a hard surface before swinging right to meet a lane, where a stile gives access to Bromesberrow Estate.
3 Take the right-hand path, going diagonally right to a pool surrounded by trees. Pass the pool and walk along a dry valley until you’re approaching a large oak tree, beyond which is a fenced wood. Bear left to find a stile in the fence. If you turn around at this point you’ll get a good view of Bromesberrow Place. Walk into the wood to find a lake and proceed along the shore. Ignore branching paths and cross a second stile. The OS map shows the path going straight on here but you’ll have to turn right, still beside the lake, until you reach the corner of the wood and then turn left across a pasture, bearing very slightly left to regain the correct line of the right of way.
Cross a stile at the far side, behind a line of three trees. Walk through woodland to a lane and turn left.
4 Keep straight on at a small triangular green, then almost immediately fork right beside a larger triangular green, along Clencher’s Mill Lane. After 700m take a path on the left, going through a gate and then turning left along a track. This leads into a field, where you turn right along the edge. You should be able to join a track at the far side but access to it is blocked, so turn left along the field edge, parallel with the track, until a gate gives access.
Turn left and proceed past a treecovered hill to a waymarked junction. Turn left and walk to a lane. Turn right then immediately take another path and cross two fields to an access track. Turn left, passing Bromesberrow Church, and walk to a lane.
5 Turn left. When the lane bends left take a short track on the right into a bean-field. Turn right again through a concealed gate into a meadow and cross to a footbridge at a woodland corner. A seriously nettle-infested path runs along the woodland edge to emerge in the bean-field. If you can’t manage the nettles it is possible to avoid them by staying in the bean-field (follow the righthand edge); technically, this could be construed as trespass, but the law gives us the right to find a way round obstacles so it depends on whether or not nettles are considered to constitute an obstacle. The path then goes diagonally right across the beanfield, passing to the left of a large manure heap, and continuing through maize to a hedge gap. The path has been over-cropped but the maize is, as yet, too small to be a problem. The next field is planted with sugar beet and the path has again been over-cropped, but head towards the far left corner. Approaching the corner, look for a gate about 50m to the right of it. Pass through this to a driveway and turn left to re-join the lane.
6 Turn right, then take the first path on the left, just after Hillview. Follow it to a farm and then turn right on a waymarked path through a field, re-entering Bromesberrow Estate. Follow the right-hand fence until a gate gives access to woodland. Walk along the woodland edge, ignoring all turnings. Eventually, emerging from the wood into parkland, turn left until a gate lets you return to the wood. Follow a path up to a track and turn right along the edge of Ragged Stone Common. Walk to the A438 and turn left to Hollybush.
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.
Worcester News recommends the use of OS Explorer Maps, your ideal passport to navigating the countryside. This walk is based on OS Explorer 190.