11:45am Tuesday 24th March 2009
By Julie Royle
LOCALS say that Clee Hill has the best views in England, and on a clear day it is very hard to disagree.
You don’t even need to go to the top of the hill because the panorama from Clee Hill Common is almost as good.
This walk begins on the common then takes you downhill, to the lovely countryside which lies just to the north of Tenbury Wells.
Highlights include two exquisite old churches at Whitton and Hope Bagot. St Mary’s at Whitton has a gloriously colourful window designed by Edward Burne Jones and made by William Morris.
At both Whitton and Hope Bagot the churchyards are managed as wildlife sanctuaries.
As a result, they host a variety of wild flowers, though it’s the wild daffodils at Whitton which make the most impact in March.
Start: Viewpoint/picnic site by A4117 on Clee Hill Common, at edge of Cleehill village, grid ref SO594753.
Length: Six-and-a-half miles/10.5km.
Maps: OS Explorer 203, OS Landranger 138.
Terrain: Moderately hilly; pasture, arable and woodland.
Footpaths: Neglected, with waymarking often inadequate or absent, but no serious problems. One path is obstructed by two fences but most walkers will be able to step over them.
Parking: Viewpoint/picnic site.
Buses: 294/295/300/303 to Kidderminster then 292 to Cleehill; worcestershire.gov.uk/bustimetables or 01905 765765.
Refreshments: Cafés, shops, pubs and chippy at Cleehill; pubs at Bennetts End and Knowle.
1 Take a bridleway by the edge of the common, beyond the car park. After you’ve passed a few houses you can gain access to the common. Walk downhill by the right-hand edge. Look for a group of three houses, painted white, cream and grey, and leave the common here. Follow a track to the Tenbury road and join another track almost opposite, leading to Gorstley Rough. Walk along a wide path terraced into the hillside. The path then narrows and descends quite steeply, before swinging to the right to enter woodland.
Eventually, the path becomes less clear: make sure you pass the end of a dry valley, and then climb above the valley, parallel with it.
2 Leaving the wood, turn left to a junction. Take the right-hand path, going diagonally across a field towards the far bottom corner, where a stile is hidden below a very steep tree-covered bank. To avoid this bank you’ll need to descend to the left-hand boundary well before the corner and walk below the bank to the stile. Go diagonally across the next field to the far corner, to Bennetts End. Turn left along a lane, then take the first footpath on the right. Go diagonally across a field towards a house.
3 Don’t cross a stile by the house – turn right instead, following a fence to a gate. Go roughly straight across the next field, then across another, heading for a stile to the left of a house. Join a track and turn right, then take a path on the left. Cross sheep pasture to the far right corner, cross Colly Brook, proceed to a stile and go uphill, keeping close to a fence. Cross a stile in a stone wall and go diagonally left across a field, passing the grounds of Whitton Court. Go straight across the next field, cross a driveway and continue across another field to meet a lane at a junction.
4 Take the Whitton lane opposite.
Look for a gate on the left which gives access to a path leading to the churchyard. Leave the churchyard at the main gate and don’t immediately rejoin the lane but take a path instead. Ignore another path going left (this is impassable) and proceed to the lane. Turn left, then left on a track after Whitton Farm. Keep straight on after crossing Colly Brook, passing to the left of a new house and climbing to the top of a hill, where you’re rewarded with a view of Bromyard Downs and the Malvern Hills.
5 Descend to a green gate and then steeply down towards Greer Brook. Just before you reach it, turn round and go back up the slope, heading diagonally right, to return to the level of the green gate.
Turn right and proceed to a stile in a fence. Go slightly left across the next field to a stile in the far fence.
Go diagonally left across another field, descending to a stile in the next fence. Walk towards a farm, but cross a stile at a fence corner before reaching the farm. Proceed along a field edge to a lane. Turn right, then soon left towards Hope Bagot.
6 Ascend steps to visit the church then return to the lane and take the Jays Farm footpath, to the left of Mill Cottage. Pass Upper House and then go past Jays Farm, refusing to be put off by the ‘private property’ sign. Go through a new wooden gate and walk along a green lane until a stile gives access to a field (obstructed by two fences – see Fact File). Go uphill to a hedge corner and then along the righthand edge of the next field to a junction. Take the left-hand option, crossing the next field to another junction. Again, go left, uphill to enter woodland (The Novers).
7 Turn left and keep straight on at a waymarked junction. The path climbs slightly and then swings round to the right. As it does so, watch for a path branching left to a stile. Walk through trees then turn right along a track, ignoring branching paths. Cross the Tenbury road to a bridleway, Lion Lane, and walk to the Golden Lion.
Return to Clee Hill Common and choose any route back to your starting point.
Worcester News recommends the use of OS Explorer Maps, your ideal passport to navigating the countryside. This walk is based on OS Explorer 203.
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.
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