IF there’s one place in Worcestershire where obstructed footpaths are never an issue it’s the Malvern Hills.
Fortunately, the same is mostly true of the Herefordshire meadows and woods just to the west of the Malverns, so it’s possible to enjoy a relaxing, problem-free walk in this lovely area without sticking exclusively to the hills.
Another great thing about the Malverns is the sheer abundance of paths, meaning that the route suggested here can be easily altered to suit your requirements.
So, if you don’t want to climb every summit, you don’t have to; in every case there is another path contouring round the hillside below the summit. You can’t avoid the final ascent from West Malvern Road (unless you make a long detour on foot, or use the 675 bus) but it’s so gentle it’s hardly noticeable.
Some stretches of this walk coincide with the Geopark Way, which runs from Bridgnorth to Gloucester through the UNESCOdesignated Malvern and Abberley Hills Geopark. The Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust (based at the University of Worcester) has produced an excellent guidebook to the Geopark Way, available in local bookshops.
The way runs from North Malvern to the Wyche by the Worcestershire Beacon and St Ann’s Well, so you will encounter it at the beginning and end of the walk, though perhaps without being aware of it.
But you can’t miss it between Evendine and Colwall Stone, where its green-and-white waymarks featuring an image of a fossilised trilobite guide the walker unerringly through several meadows.
The landscape in this area to the west of the hills is formed from alternating bands of limestone and shale, creating gentle ridges and valleys, and this section of the Geopark Way follows the line of a limestone ridge, with small patches of rock exposed in places by the action of tree roots.
The road that passes through Wyche Cutting was once part of a saltway from Droitwich.
Brockhill Road, a byway used in the walk, is another ancient route, once used for the transport of limestone and there are some old lime kilns close by.
Start: Great Malvern, grid ref SO775459.
Length: Eight-and-a-half miles/13.5km.
Maps: OS Explorer 190, OS Landranger 150, Harvey Superwalker Malvern Hills.
Terrain: Pasture, arable, woodland and open hilltops; good paths and tracks throughout; moderately hilly, occasionally steep.
Parking: Great Malvern.
Public transport: Very frequent buses (44/363/364) and trains on weekdays, less frequent on Sundays but still adequate; worcestershire.gov.uk/bustimetables or 01905 765765 or www.nationalrail.co.uk or 08457 484950.
Refreshments: Great Malvern, the Wyche, British Camp, St Ann’s Well.
1 Walk up Church Street, turn right on Worcester Road and then left on St Ann’s Road. Go straight on at a junction with Happy Valley, and then keep climbing to reach the ridge-top.
There are various routes available, both direct and indirect, so just choose which suits you best. Once at the top, head south, walking across Worcestershire Beacon and Summer Hill. Cross Wyche Road/Walwyn Road (B4218) at Wyche Cutting and regain the ridge by the steps next to the bus shelter. Continue south along the ridge, over several more hills. After passing Blackhill car park keep to the high ground until you can go no further and are forced to descend right to Jubilee Drive (B4232), meeting it close to the Malvern Hills Hotel, below British Camp.
2 Turn left to the hotel, then take a path opposite which descends past public toilets, passing through scrub and woodland to reach a junction at a stile. Go straight on, descending steeply to another junction. Go to the far right corner of the next field, cross a footbridge and follow a clear path to a lane at Evendine. Turn left, then first right on the Geopark Way. Follow it to Colwall station, cross the station footbridge then proceed to Walwyn Road (B4218). Leave the Geopark Way and go straight on to join Stone Drive. Turn right after a few metres on a footpath. Go straight on at two junctions, along Meadow Walk and Cowl Barn Lane (byway).
Having passed Cowl Barn, duck under a green barrier, turn right to go through a small gate and then follow a path to the left.
3 Meeting Brockhill Road, turn left past the Downs School and follow Brockhill Road (a byway) to West Malvern Road (B4232). Cross over and climb onto the open hillside. Choose any path up to the ridge but bear left if you’re looking for a gentle ascent – the bridleway which skirts The Dingle is a good choice. When you reach a col, look for a round, stone route indicator and head towards either Great Malvern or St Ann’s Well. In fact, both of these paths go to Great Malvern, with the St Ann’s Well path more interesting and only very slightly less direct.
Your Worcester News recommends the use of OS Explorer Maps, your ideal passport to navigating the countryside. This walk is based on OS Explorer 190.